Sunday, 25 June 2017

Book Review: Release; Patrick Ness.

I'm actually really pleased that I managed to get round to this book, and even more pleased that it was such an enjoyable read. However, I was a little torn about the rating of this book purely because while I adored most of the story revolving around MC Adam, there was an additional experimental story that I really did not enjoy and almost caused me to bring the rating right down because it felt so out of place!

SOURCE: Edelweiss
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Release
AUTHOR: Patrick Ness
PAGES: 288
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, Fantasy

RATING: 4/5 Stars

Adam Thorn doesn’t know it yet, but today will change his life.

Between his religious family, a deeply unpleasant ultimatum from his boss, and his own unrequited love for his sort-of ex, Enzo, it seems as though Adam’s life is falling apart.  At least he has two people to keep him sane: his new boyfriend (he does love Linus, doesn’t he?) and his best friend, Angela.

But all day long, old memories and new heartaches come crashing together, throwing Adam’s life into chaos. The bindings of his world are coming untied one by one; yet in spite of everything he has to let go, he may also find freedom in the release. 

What I Liked:
  • It's amazing that a book set over the course of just one day could prove to be so interesting and keep my attention for so long! But it really does, and for good reason - this story is one of Ness' best. It's heartrending and real and hauntingly beautiful and I really fell in love with it from start to finish. I am of course talking about all parts of the story set around Adam's life. I'll get to the other bit later. Adam's POV was complex, but I really got it. And this is the best portrayal of gay relationships, breakups, sex, and the 'coming out' experience I have ever read.
  • The success of this story came largely down to characterisation and despite my worries after not liking them particularly in my last Ness read, 'The Rest Of Us Just Live Here' they more than made up for it in 'Release'. Adam's family is dated in their views and very religious, but doesn't fall into obvious stereotypes. Adam himself is not perfect, but is likeable and vulnerable which I like in a protagonist. Adam's friends, particularly Angela, are the kind of friends I want in my life. Linus is a-dork-able and patient and ACK! And even Enzo, despite being the one who broke Adam's heart, is still sad and relatable in some ways. I loved them all, good or bad.
What I Disliked:
  • Okay so here's where things get 'sigh-worthy' for me. Because Adam's story alone could easily have won a five star rating from me. But unfortunately, Ness made a very bizarre decision - to include a very meaningless, unrelated fantasy story that revolves around the murder of a local girl they reference a couple of times and a seven foot deer that only makes me thing of the Forest God in Princess Mononoke. Why? I have no idea? Did it impact Adam's journey? Not really. Did it serve as a deeper way of understanding Adam's story? No - it really just confused me. Was it even a good story in it's own right? No again - the language was very basic in comparison, it was a bit repetitive, super weird and felt like a middle with no beginning, no satisfying end, and certainly no explanation. So why was it there then? I have no idea. But it cost Ness a precious star (it almost brought my rating right down|) and made me feel a bit disappointed as a result.
Overall Conclusion:
Two thirds of this book really impressed me, to the point of almost making this my favourite Patrick Ness read and favourite read of the month! But that one third really let this book down. It felt very out of place, and whatever purpose it was supposed to serve I felt it failed because I did not have a clue as to why it was there. It's such a shame. I would recommend this book still because I adored Adam's segments so much. Great focus on LGBT relationships, great character development and relationships, and even great plot direction. Without the weird spirits and dead body coming back to life for no reason whatsoever it would have been a hit with me for sure!

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Book Review: One Of Us Is Lying; Karen M. McManus

On the surface this doesn't necessarily seem like my type of book - not only is it a teen high school drama (not famed for being my favourite genre) it's also marketed around fans of 'Pretty Little Liars' which is a show I didn't find myself overly bothered about watching. But this book, surpassed all of my expectations, and I do love a good murder mystery!

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: One Of Us Is Lying
AUTHOR: Karen M. McManus
PAGES: 358
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, Mystery

RATING: 5/5 Stars

On Thursday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention. 

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule. 

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing. 

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High's notorious gossip app. 

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon's dead. And according to investi­gators, his death wasn't an accident. On Thursday, he died. But on Friday, he'd planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they just the perfect patsies for a killer who's still on the loose? Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

What I Liked:
  • There were so many awesome things about this book that I barely know where to begin. I suppose I'll start with my favourite thing about the book - the characters. There were 4 POVs in this story, all of which were suspects to the murder and each had their own unique personality, secrets and interests. It was good to learn more about them as the story progressed. I also enjoyed watching them interact with each other, their relationships and conversation definitely felt very genuine.
  • The plot itself moved perfectly. Plenty of twists and turns along the way, some a little predictable but a lot of them fun enough to keep me guessing. This continued until the very end and I had only guessed a little bit of how the finale would play out. But I loved the pacing and plot direction, and McManus didn't let me become bored for one second. 
What I Disliked:
  • I'll be honest, nothing really struck me as a dislike about this book. It was an easy, fun read that had me hooked from beginning to end. I perhaps wish that a little more focus had been given to what happened to them all after the investigation, but at the same time I feel like McManus rounded off their stories really nicely. So really, I think it's more wishful thinking on my part to be honest.
Overall Conclusion:
All in all, this was a great book! A well built setting, a school that reacted exactly how I imagined in such a situation, a great murder mystery, and fantastic character building. This was everything I wanted in a read and it's actually made me feel that I might enjoy more books like this, especially if they involve something a bit juicier than the usual high school gossip!

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

The Best Weekend Of My Life - Finally!

So some of you might have read my 'Last Week' post and realised something was up due to the lack of detail on the end of the week - Sunday specifically! Well, Sunday marked the first of a very special two days for me, days that I will never forget for as long as I live.

Here is a very unsuspecting me on the very beginning of our adventure, which was revealed to me through a series of clues referencing places in London we have been too and enjoyed together. Many of those were the first places in London we went to together, and our first destination was London Zoo because of this reason! But we didn't just go there for any old reason, oh no!

Because my wonderful, amazing boyfriend, took me to feed the Giraffes!

This was definitely a real highlight of the weekend, as the giraffes are such an interesting animal and so cool to see up close! Especially as they feed in such a way that it ends up being a very personal, memorable experience. I enjoyed every second of my time doing this and it was so much fun!

After a continued journey around the rest of the zoo, followed by a walk around Regents Park to feed some squirrels and enjoy the hottest day of the year, Mat took me to the next surprise of the day.

He'd booked the very first hotel we'd ever stayed in, the Hilton Hotel in Islington! I was so overwhelmed with emotion and I cried. A lot. When we got up to the room there were chocolates and petals, and it was so nice! One of Mat's elves (as he called them) had even packed a suitcase for us and left it in the room before we got there!

We went out for dinner at Masala Zone later in the evening before heading back to the room for a lovely evening in ready for day two of adventures! I really didn't want the weekend to end at this point, it was so perfect!

On day two, after a lay in, we went downstairs for breakfast which was delicious and for me consisted of many courses because there was so much to choose from! After breakfast we packed up and headed to our next destination, a picnic in Holland Park!

It was a long, lazy afternoon lounging in the sun, visiting the beautiful Kyoto Garden before finding a nearby bench to while away time reading and being content in each other's company. It has been such a long time since I spent a day doing that and it really gave me the kind of relaxation time I'd been missing for a while. But the day was far from over!

We next headed to the Southbank area, as it has long been our favourite riverside view in London and as we've eaten at Giraffe so many times while living in London, we chose that as our next destination! I love the Chicken Milanese there, and it was delicious this time around as well! It seemed like the perfect end to our wonderful weekend outing, but little did I know that my evening had so much in store for me, because as soon as I returned home, there was a huge surprise waiting!

Lights, candles and flowers were everywhere. Not the most comfortable combination for the hottest day of the year but I was so overwhelmed that it was a long time before I noticed. And as I'm sure you've all guessed by now, my partner in crime of seven and a half years finally proposed to me to the backdrop of a video comprising of our favourite movie clips, beautiful music and the flat we've lived in and adored for almost a year. I feel like the luckiest girl alive though that might be cliche to say, and I'm so happy!

I really wanted to share with you my very special few days, as it's something I've been looking forward to for a long time. A long time. 

Monday, 19 June 2017

Last Week's Shenanigans (12th June - 18th June)...

This week started off like any other week. A little boring and work-filled, with the only 'social' event being a trip to the cinema with Mat to watch Wonder Woman. That is an excellent film by the way, which is good because I was really starting to give up on the DC film franchise. While it's clear they are trying to be as successful as Marvel, they really weren't succeeding up until this point. But Wonder Woman actually made me want to wipe the past away and give them a fresh chance, I was that impressed. The idea that Wonder Woman has never had a proper film made revolving around her character before is very telling, I bet it's a big regret for Hollywood now!

The end of the week I'm not going to talk too much about. Because it was the start of a special weekend for me and I want to make a special post about it. But it was wonderful. And that's all I'm going to say.

I Read...

I Received...

- 'Ink' by Alice Broadway: Bought on Amazon (16/06/17)
- 'The Hunter's Kind' by Rebecca Levene: Bought On Amazon (16/06/17)

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Book Review: Green Rider; Kristen Britain.

While I enjoyed this book, I have to say that I struggled with this one. At 500+ pages, it was a lot longer than the reads I've been used to and when you're not falling head over heels in love with what you're reading, it can be difficult to get through.

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Green Rider
AUTHOR: Kristen Britain
SERIES: Green Rider (#1)
PAGES: 560
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure

RATING: 3.5/5 Stars

Karigan G'ladheon, running away from school, is travelling through a deep forest when a galloping horse pounds up to her, its rider impaled by two black-shafted arrows. With his dying breath, he tells her he is a Green Rider, one of the magical messengers of the King. Before he dies, he makes Karigan swear to deliver the message he's carrying, and gives her his green coat, with the symbolic brooch of his office. 

Pursued by unknown assassins, following a path only her horse seems to know, Karigan becomes a legendary Green Rider for when given to the right person, a Rider's brooch awakens the magic inside.

What I Liked:
  • There was a really good attempt made at world-building, and I definitely appreciate that in Fantasy literature above all things because I want to be able to envision the world I'm reading about. It did remind me if a lot of other Fantasy worlds I've delved into, which in some ways was a good thing because I have fond memories of those books, but it also did highlight that so far, there wasn't anything hugely special about this world. It seemed to draw upon a lot of specific elements from other Fantasy series, which has been picked up on by other reviewers of this book) or vague elements from a general Fantasy 'feeling'.
  • I did like the characters a lot, especially the feisty MC Karigan. She was everything I wanted in a feisty heroine, stubborn and bad-ass but emotional and with the capacity to develop. I liked the occasional jump to other POVs too, particularly Karigan's Father who was a good, solid character. I really think a book series like this would benefit from more of a variety in POV though I'm more on board with sticking with Karigan than I was to begin with.
What I Disliked:
  • Like I said, some of the content felt a little, dare I say, copied? 'The North' and a great big wall to keep out ancient evil were just two of the many things that made me think of the ASOI&F series, and then so many other elements that I felt like I'd read before. Now we must consider that this book was published a long time ago and so more modern books that share similarities will not have been taken from. However, sad to say the lack of something truly unique to this story made me a little sad.
  • While I liked the characters, some of the conversations in this book and the way they interact with each other is excruciating. My main example of this was during Karigan's conversations with the Berry sisters. My goodness. Britain should have named those chapters 'info dumping' because that is what it was. The sisters spent an unnecessarily long time explaining magic, it's uses in the wider world, spirits, lore, propriety, and all sorts of things that could definitely have been spread out. They were the most boring chapters of the book by far because of this.
Overall Conclusion:
This was not a bad book. I liked a lot of it, and never found myself totally becoming disconnected from the plot other than that weird blip with the Berry sisters. Britain kept the plot interesting throughout and made sure that her characters developed well. I liked Karigan sticking to her guns, and even after adventures not deciding that she's ready to be a hero. Yes, there were some wholly unoriginal elements - that can be expected from most Fantasy. I would have liked to see something a bit different, though perhaps those individual details will show better in later books This was certainly a good attempt at building a world!

Monday, 12 June 2017

Last Week's Shenanigans (5th June - 11th June)...

Another week bites the dust! It's been a good one, if a little uneventful, and my only disappointment is that I didn't manage to finish 'Green Rider', the book I'm currently reading. It's taking me quite a while to get through which is a shame, as I have so many great planned reads for June! But on Monday, I did go to watch the new Pirates Of The Caribbean film despite my initial reluctance due to the amount of drama going on in Johnny Depp's life as of late. The film itself was really good, and actually took me back to the original first couple of films that made me fall in love with the film series. Curse Of The Black Pearl and Dead Man's Chest will always be my favourites, and I felt it started to lose things in At World's End and especially with On Stranger Tides. But Salazar's Revenge was right up there with the great Pirates Of The Caribbean films and I loved it!

I've been watching a lot of TV this week, mostly Game Of Thrones with Mat (we are re-watching them all ready for the new season happening in July). I finished Emerald City, a remake of 'The Wizard Of Oz' that despite feeling very mediocre had me intrigued enough to be disappointed that it got cancelled in the end. I've also been watching American Gods based on Neil Gaiman's acclaimed novel that I have yet to read and despite it's very bizarre nature...I love it! I'm so hooked! Even now all I want to do is watch another episode! Having fully caught up with RuPaul's Drag Race too and watching the US version of The Office with Mat as well, I think we can all safely say that TV won this week!

I Read...


I Received...

- 'Nasty Women' by 404 Ink: Approved by Netgalley (07/06/17)

Monday, 5 June 2017

Last Week's Shenanigans (29th May - 4th June)...

This week has been a wonderful end to the month of May. The main highlight of it was on Monday when Mat's family came down for the day. We had a lovely time, starting with a picnic at the Olympic Park in Stratford. The rain threatened to make it a bit rubbish, but luckily it stayed at a light drizzle. Afterwards, we went shopping in Westfield and I finally got myself some new sandals! Hooray! It was a really great day and I enjoyed spending time with them all.

The rest of the week was pretty much filled with work but I had some great days off on Friday and Sunday where I got to relax and work on this blog. My Illumicrate came this week too which was really exciting. It was like another birthday present!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'Truth Or Dare' by Non Pratt: Received from Illumicrate (31/05/17)
- 'The Waking Land' by Callie Bates: Received from Illumicrate (31/05/17)
- 'The Taste Of Blue Light' by Lydia Ruffles: Approved by Netgalley (04/06/17)


Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Reads For The Rest Of 2017

I Posted...

Illumicrate Unboxing (Box 7)
May Wrap-Up
Planned Reads For June
Bookish Bingo (Jun - Aug) Sign-Up Post