January 2015: Monthly Wrap Up!

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Hello my bookish peeps! It is the end of another month and yes, it was a month where I was rather absent from the blogging world. January was a pretty fun yet hectic month for me but I shall explain all!

Life:

Life was extremely hectic for me this month! Not only did I go back to university, I also (finally!) got a job, was catching up with my boyfriend after a few weeks of being apart, had some roommate drama and some girlfriend of a friend drama and then, of course, my laptop once again broke! Now, if you follow my blog that sentence probably feels like a broken record but it is now fully and completely fixed!


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The first time it broke I took it to a person who was not a Mac/Apple expert so he couldn’t fully fix it but I dealt with it and just said whatever but it completely shut down a few weeks ago so I finally handed it into a Apple store and it was going to cost so much to fix but I needed it for school and life so I just said whatever, do it! Here’s the good news though: due to some clerical error I got my laptop fixed completely for free! 😀 Let us thank the Apple Gods!

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So to celebrate I bought the complete box set of the West Wing – as you do.

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Books:

I only read three books in January and they were Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge and Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch. So it wasn’t the best reading month for me in terms of numbers but in terms of quality it was fantabulous! Reviews for Code Name Verity and Cruel Beauty are up and my review of Snow Like Ashes is coming up next week!

One of my resolutions for 2015 was to stop buying books (until the end of March anyway) and I am pleased to say I made it through all of January without buying a single book…it was not without difficulty. There are so many good books out that I wish to own and love. But I will be strong…I will.

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So that was my January! In February I hope to read at least three to four books and I am hoping to do Books and Cupcakes Book Photo Challenge on Instagram and to write a few more discussion posts.

And watch more of the West Wing!

I hope you all had a wonderful month and I shall see you tomorrow with my Top Five Most Anticipated Post!

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Code Name Verity: Review

code name verityAuthor: Elizabeth Wein

Publisher: Egmont Press

Genre: Historical Fiction

Summary: Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.
When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy? (Via Goodreads.)

Review:

I had a lot of expectations when I started this book. I thought I would love it from the very first page and I didn’t. In fact, I found it very hard to get into. It’s very technical at times – a lot of code words, types of aeroplanes and I was just like, “what?” and I was quite disappointed but I had judged too soon.

This book is split into two parts; told from two different points of view and you really appreciate the first part of novel as soon as you start reading the second. It transforms and elevates what you have just read; it makes it beautiful and stunning and heart-wrenching and inspirational and just…words that mean greatness.

The writing is at times clunky at times but it has to be which you’ll understand once you start reading. The characters are wonderful, multifaceted and just incredible to read about, you’re very unlikely to forget them and their story. Simply amazing.

This book is definitely worth the hype and I would recommend it to everyone even if historical fiction is not your thing – it’s definitely not mine but I’m already looking forward to picking up Elizabeth Wein’s next novel. Just Fantastic.

4 STARS.

Cruel Beauty: Review

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Author: Rosamund Hodge

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Genre: Fairytale Retelling

Summary: Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love. (Via Goodreads)

Review:

Let me preface this by saying that Cruel Beauty has been on my TBR list for like ever! And I finally got it for Christmas so of course I just tore into it and I was not disappointed.

Cruel Beauty is a wonderful mix of fairytale and mythology which at first seemed a bit odd to me but it actually melded together extremely well and made for a very compelling, well told story and interesting world that I would very much like to visit again.

The characters too are sublime especially the main character of Nyx. She is quite dark; poisonous and resentful and made for such interesting reading and while she wasn’t written to be likeable I simply adored her. It was so enjoyable to read about her and watch how she struggles between what she was chosen to do, her resentment and her own desires and ugh it was just so, so good. I would recommend reading it just for her.

The supporting characters are also quite interesting – Nyx’s family in particular and how cold and calculating they are and I would love to have read more about them.

The story itself is quite interesting and it’s definitely an interesting take on Beauty and the Beast but alas it is quite predictable – but it in no way distracted from my enjoyment of the book or the story. The ending in my opinion was a little weak but overall it was a fantastic book and I would recommend it.

4 Stars.

Graham Norton: The Life and Loves of a He-Devil: Review

graham nortonAuthor: Graham Norton

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughten

Genre: Biography

Summary: Revealing, moving, and hilarious, Graham Norton tells the story of his life through the things he loves in a brand new memoir.

Graham Norton has been entertaining audiences and having fun with some of the world’s biggest stars for nearly 20 years. He is loved for his delight in the peculiar and for his ability to find humor and a common ground in all that life brings. Here is Graham’s funny and honest memoir on the theme of love. As he shows, it’s really the things you love that make you who you are and so Graham tells his story from his Irish childhood to the present day, describing just what and who he loved—and sometimes lost—as a young boy, and his new loves and obsessions—big and small—as he’s grown older. It’s been 10 years since his last book and being a decade older Graham has come to realize that what makes a life interesting is less what happens to you and more what inspires and drives you, what you love. From Dolly Parton and dogs to wine and Ireland, Graham tells of his life and loves with characteristic humor and outrageous candour. (Via Goodreads)

Review:

Let me preface this review by saying that I love Graham Norton. I loved him in Father Ted, I love his talk show, I think he is absolutely hilarious so it was unsurprising that I bought his biography and that my mother bought it for me too what was surprising was how unfunny I found it.

I really expected this biography to be rip-roar funny and it just wasn’t. The book isn’t strictly a biography, it’s more Norton discussing his favourite things from dogs to work to men and he tells story under each topic and while they are at times interesting they are just not funny. I was expecting major big belly laughs and anecdotes from his Father Ted and standup days but it just wasn’t there.

I do think this book is interesting and it was a pretty compelling, if a tad boring in places, but it really wasn’t what I was expecting and it just wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be. In fact, it was distinctly average in all ways and that was extremely disappointing to me.

3 Stars.

 

 

Waiting on…Royal Wedding

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Breaking the Spine which highlights upcoming releases that bloggers are excited for. This week my pick is:

royal weddingAuthor: Meg Cabot

Publisher: William Morrow and Company

Genre: Contemporary

Expected Release Date: June 2nd 2015

Summary: From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Princess Diaries series, comes the very first adult instalment, which follows Princess Mia and her Prince Charming as they plan their fairy tale wedding–but a few poisoned apples could turn this happily-ever-after into a royal nightmare.

For Princess Mia, the past five years since college graduation have been a whirlwind of activity, what with living in New York City, running her new teen community center, being madly in love, and attending royal engagements. And speaking of engagements. Mia’s gorgeous longtime boyfriend Michael managed to clear both their schedules just long enough for an exotic (and very private) Caribbean island interlude where he popped the question! Of course Mia didn’t need to consult her diary to know that her answer was a royal oui.

But now Mia has a scandal of majestic proportions to contend with: Her grandmother’s leaked “fake” wedding plans to the press that could cause even normally calm Michael to become a runaway groom. Worse, a scheming politico is trying to force Mia’s father from the throne, all because of a royal secret that could leave Genovia without a monarch. Can Mia prove to everyone–especially herself–that she’s not only ready to wed, but ready to rule as well? (Via Goodreads)

Why I’m Excited: IT’S A PRINCESS DIARIES BOOK! MY CHILDHOOD (okay I was a teenager but still!)!

 

2015 Resolutions: Classics

So if any of you read my Top Ten New Years Resolutions/Goals post you will know that I wanted to read five classics in 2015 and if you didn’t read that post I want to read five classics in 2015…there now we’re all up to speed! 🙂

Now, I have a terrible habit of buying books and never reading them, especially when it comes to the Green Penguin Popular Classics that usually retail for under €3 so this year i decided that I will finally start to read some of them. I only picked five because I’ve got some other challenges I want to complete as well this year so without further ado here are the classics I hope to read in 2015!

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

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Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

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The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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1984 by George Orwell

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And there you have it! Hopefully I will get all five of these read (More than likely I’ll only read two but hey at least I’m trying!)

Top Five Most Anticipated January Releases!

Happy New Year! It is the beginning of a new year which means plenty of well intention resolutions that you probably won’t keep, some extra holiday weight and most importantly, some new books due to be released.

January has some incredible books due for release, there are so many that I want…

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But alas I am on a Book Buying Ban and as usual I can only pick Five for my Most Anticipated Books of the Month (I really should come up with some catchy title considering that I do this every month…) so without further ado here they are!

the darkest part of the forestAuthor: Holly Black

Publisher: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers

Genre: Fantasy

Expected Release Date: January 13th 2015

Summary: Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough? (Via Goodreads.)

whenAuthor: Victoria Laurie

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Genre: Mystery/Paranormal

Expected Release Date: January 13th 2015

Summary: Maddie Fynn is a shy high school junior, cursed with an eerie intuitive ability: she sees a series of unique digits hovering above the foreheads of each person she encounters. Her earliest memories are marked by these numbers, but it takes her father’s premature death for Maddie and her family to realize that these mysterious digits are actually death dates, and just like birthdays, everyone has one.

Forced by her alcoholic mother to use her ability to make extra money, Maddie identifies the quickly approaching death date of one client’s young son, but because her ability only allows her to see the when and not the how, she’s unable to offer any more insight. When the boy goes missing on that exact date, law enforcement turns to Maddie.

Soon, Maddie is entangled in a homicide investigation, and more young people disappear and are later found murdered. A suspect for the investigation, a target for the murderer, and attracting the attentions of a mysterious young admirer who may be connected to it all, Maddie’s whole existence is about to be turned upside down. Can she right things before it’s too late? (Via Goodreads.)

i was hereAuthor: Gayle Forman

Publisher: Viking Juvenile

Genre: Contemporary

Expected Release Date: January 27th 2015

Summary: Cody and Meg were inseparable.
Two peas in a pod.
Until . . . they weren’t anymore.

When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

I Was Here is Gayle Forman at her finest, a taut, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story about redefining the meaning of family and finding a way to move forward even in the face of unspeakable loss. (Via Goodreads.)

the mime orderAuthor: Samantha Shannon

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Genre: Fantasy/Dystopia

Expected Release Date: January 27th

Summary: Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal penal colony of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the fugitives are still missing and she is the most wanted person in London.

As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on Paige, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city’s gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take center stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner.

Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. But where is Warden? Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided. Will Paige know who to trust? The hunt for the dreamwalker is on. (Via Goodreads.)

all fall downAuthor: Ally Carter

Publisher: Scholastic

Genre: Contemporary/Mystery

Expected Release Date: January 27th 2015

Summary: Grace Blakely is absolutely certain of three things:

1. She is not crazy.
2. Her mother was murdered.
3. Someday she is going to find the killer and make him pay.

As certain as Grace is about these facts, nobody else believes her–so there’s no one she can completely trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door who is keeping an eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands.

Everybody wants Grace to put on a pretty dress and a pretty smile, blocking out all her unpretty thoughts. But they can’t control Grace–no more than Grace can control what she knows or what she needs to do.

Her past has come back to hunt her . . . and if she doesn’t stop it, Grace isn’t the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world all stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down. (Via Goodreads.)

And there they are! I hope you all had a lovely New Years and that some of you actually get to buy and read these books when they come out…curse you book buying ban *shakes tiny fist*