Top 3 January Reads 2018

As I write this, I have finished seven books this month. I’m debating starting wrap-up style posts, but then I have reviewed every book that I’ve read this month *gasp*. I probably – hopefully, as it needs to be read by the time this gets posted – will have finished another book, but it wouldn’t make this list even if I had finished it earlier.

BronzeWinter – Ali Smith 

I’m not sure that I felt so as soon as I finished it, but thinking back, I definitely preferred Winter to Autumn. It’s so rooted in present events, and that could be why – I read Winter only a couple of months after it was released. I’m definitely a lover of Ali Smith’s writing, and can’t wait to get to more of her work.

SilverPercy Jackson and the Lightning Thief – Rick Riordan

This was SO good. I loved the characters, the plot, everything. I’m so glad Hannah made me pick this up!

GoldNice Try, Jane Sinner – Lianne Oelke

This book was incredible. The premise, humour, Jane herself. It dealt with serious topics really well, whilst keeping the rest of the story lighthearted. I absolutely adored this book, honestly, I haven’t laughed so much at a novel.

Review: Richard II – William Shakespeare

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The fact that I couldn’t find a summary by goodreads sums up this play to be honest.

I am very definitely not a fan of the history plays by Shakespeare. I don’t understand half of what is going on, nor do I understand the reasons why things are happening. I mean, it’s very likely just me that can’t understand it, but there we go.

Richard II is a very complex character, granted. We see him descend into a state of madness (Hannah looked it up and he truly did go ‘mad’), and there are so many things wrong with him (again we looked it up and it’s mostly because of the inbreeding that went on in the royal family back in the 1300s), but these made his character incredibly interesting. And, considering the fact that this play was written in the Elizabethan times, it’s pretty well portrayed (nothing compared to today’s standards however – thankfully our expectations have improved).

As for the events of the play, I would discuss them… But I don’t actually understand what happened. They seemed dramatic? There was a lot of going back and forth between people and places and there were too many people and places to keep up.

I do feel that maybe because my heart wasn’t really into watching / reading it, I didn’t get the full benefit. However, I don’t think I’ll be picking it up again anytime soon to give it the benefit of the doubt. Shakespeare has written so many other plays, I have plenty to go through first before ending up rereading Richard II.

Rating: 2.5 / 5 🌟

Review: Hope – Rhian Ivory 

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Genre: YA, Contemporary

Publication date: 15th September 2017 by Firefly Press Ltd

Format: Paperback I purchased from Waterstones

The summer between school and sixth-form. When Hope doesn’t get into drama college, and her friends do, all her plans fall apart. She’s struggling with anger, grief for her father and a sense that her own body is against her. She meets Riley on the ferry and his texts give her someone to talk to. But this isn’t a story about a boy fixing everything. It’s about trying new things and having the courage to ask for help.

(from goodreads.com)


I read this book a little while ago, back when it was released. As soon as I saw it in Waterstones I picked it up and I was not disappointed. It was a wonderful read, and I’m so glad I got to it so soon.

Hope is a complex character, there is so much going on with her. Even now, though I’m at a different stage in my life / education, I relate to her struggle about what to do next with her life so much. It was interesting to see this portrayed accurately, and the struggle she faces when her dream doesn’t quite come true and the subsequent paths she has to look at and choose from were well executed.

The main thing with this book, however, it that is does not shy away from talking about periods. It discusses the condition of PMDD, and it was great to see something talked about that is usually shied away from. It’s not something I personally struggle with, but I can see how reading about Hope’s struggle and coming to terms with it would really help someone. I can’t comment on the accuracy of the portrayal, but Hope’s emotional response came across as realistic and raw.

I couldn’t put this book down. It’s set in the Midlands area, which was amazing as I don’t think I have read any other book that explicitly mentions Birmingham. It was a surreal feeling reading a book and recognising the places mentioned. I mean, I recognise some of the famous names dropped in books set in London, but America I kind of guess at. Reading a book set so close to home made such a lovely, lovely change.

I would highly recommend this book. It completely grabbed me and I sped through it. The characters, their emotions and feelings, were so well developed, and I fell in love with it. I find myself wanting to reread it, which is unusual for me, and always a good sign!

Rating: 5 / 5 🌟

Review: Henry V – William Shakespeare

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Henry V is Shakespeare’s most famous “war play”; it includes the storied English victory over the French at Agincourt. Some of it glorifies war, especially the choruses and Henry’s speeches urging his troops into battle. But we also hear bishops conniving for war to postpone a bill that would tax the church, and soldiers expecting to reap profits from the conflict. Even in the speeches of Henry and his nobles, there are many chilling references to the human cost of war.

(from goodreads.com)


Firstly, I don’t feel I can write a ‘review’ of a Shakespeare play. It’s Shakespeare, England’s most famous writer, I think it’s fair to say. But I wanted to share some of my thoughts about the play anyway.

I’m not really a fan of the histories, I must admit. I read this play back in year twelve (nearly three years ago) and wasn’t really keen on it, and reading it again for uni made me understand why I don’t particularly enjoy it. I watched it, rather than read it, this time around. It helped, as my attempts at reading it were just not going to happen!

There are so many characters. I know it’s a historical piece and Shakespeare couldn’t exactly cut them out of the play but I could not follow them. This is why watching it made it so much better. I could put a face to a name at the very least (admittedly, I had no clue who some of the people were but hey). I just got so confused reading this and I struggled to get through it (well, I didn’t). It is important to remember it is written for the stage though, even more so than today’s plays as the majority of Shakespeare’s audience wouldn’t have been able to read, so I guess there’s that.

I did love some of the speeches, the ‘Crispin’s Day’ speech is truly wonderful. Henry V definitely has good, motivational speeches going for it. But otherwise, I was bored. As I said, I’m not really a fan of the histories – I prefer the over the top drama of the tragedies and comedies personally. But I can see its merit. I mean, I find history interesting to learn about, but historical fiction in general is not my thing, let alone Shakespeare’s version of it!

Rating: 3 / 5 🌟

 

Books I’m Not Interested In Reading

I am struggling to find inspiration for posts at this moment, for a whole number of reasons, but I was scrolling through youtube earlier and saw multiple videos along these lines… I thought it’d be fun to do my own. If you love these books, I apologise! You are more than welcome to love them and rave about them to me, I just personally have no interest in reading them myself.

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Anything by Richard Yates

I loathed Revolutionary Road – I only finished it because I had to for school. It was horrific in so many ways I just can’t make myself read anything else by the same author.

How To Build a Girl – Caitlin Moran

This is one of the few books that I have consciously DNF’d. It wasn’t for me.

Zenith – Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings

Controversial, I know. I’m not really interested in science fiction generally anyway, and I was reading a little bit Sasha had shared on her Instagram story (I think), and the writing is just… not great.

Anything by Stephen King

I’m scared of my own shadow and so would have no hope with Stephen King.

A Game of Thrones – George R. R. Martin

I’m not really a fan of high fantasy, and these books are massive.

The Bronze Horseman – Paullina Simons

I’ve heard mixed reviews about this book, but the bad aspects definitely outweigh the good.

The Divergent Series – Veronica Roth

It’s been out such a long time now, and I’ve never particularly wanted to read it.

If you love these books / authors, honestly that’s great! I’m not going to blab on about disclaimers etc. I’d like to think everyone can have their different opinions and share them in a nice manner. I’d love to hear your thoughts on my list!

 

What I Am Currently Reading

I have so many books on the go at the moment, especially on Goodreads, far too many… I like having multiple books on the go, but it is getting a tad ridiculous now! My aim is to shorten the list this year… we hope!

These are the books I currently have on the go:

  • There But For The – Ali Smith
  • Hawthorn and Child – Keith Ridgway
  • Twelfth Night – William Shakespeare
  • Richard II – William Shakespeare
  • Evening Primrose – Kopano Matlwa
  • A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
  • The Refugees – Viet Thanh Nguyen
  • Sunshine – Melissa Lee-Houghton
  • American Gods – Neil Gaiman
  • The Divine Comedy – Dante
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
  • Les Miserables – Victor Hugo
  • The Exact Opposite of Okay – Laura Steven

Believe it or not, there are more listed as ‘currently reading’ on Goodreads, but I’m not really. I haven’t picked them up in ages and I don’t really intend to. I mean, some of those in the above list I haven’t picked up in a while and won’t for a while yet (my copy of The Divine Comedy is at home so I definitely won’t read any until Easter at the earliest) but I have good intentions. I’m sure there are other too that I have started and not added to Goodreads, and hence forgotten I have started!

What are you currently reading? Do you prefer to read one book at a time or have more than one (maybe not as many as me because my list is a bit too long to be honest!)?

My Favourite Social Media Platforms

I love social media and spend way too much time on it! I feel like the bookish community is so contradictory sometimes though, pushing positivity and at the same time being negative and pulling others down.

I love reading negative reviews waaaaaay too much, even for books I love, and I definitely don’t mean ‘negativity’ in the form of reviews – more shaming other people for one reason or another. But enough of that, I just wanted to clear up what I meant. I actually want to talk about why I love social media so much.

Pretty pictures

Instagram is one of my favourite platforms; I can scroll through pretty photos, like them easily, and not have to read the captions or comments. It’s actually a fairly positive place too, from my experience. There are some incredible photographers with accounts on there, and I love to find new recommendations from them. I’m a sucker for the stories, and will happily sit watching through them all. I know some people aren’t so keen, but I definitely am!

New connections

Twitter is my most used platform, probably. I spend far too much time on it, especially when I should be doing something productive. The only downside is that I see a lot of arguing on there – usually political – and whilst I really don’t want to read it in certain moments, I don’t like to silence certain terms because I may be able to learn from someone tweeting about an issue. Those arguments usually come through people I have randomly followed though – not the bookish community! I see a lot of love on Twitter, and people supporting one another, and I genuinely love that. I love the random bookish conversations with people every once in a while.

Reviews and recommendations

Goodreads is such a wonderful site. I love having somewhere to keep track of my reading and I use it as a bible now when book shopping, looking at the average rating if I’m unsure about a book, and often reading some of the reviews. I’m also super nosy, and enjoy seeing what other people are reading. Plus the reading challenge is a bit of motivation! Even if I’m already behind…

What are your favourite platforms? And your accounts? Or maybe you don’t like these ones? I’d love to hear your thoughts!📚

Things That Are Different This Semester

I’m barely two weeks into this semester and for some reason, I’m finding it a lot harder than the last. I thought I’d make a list of some things that are different this time around, both good and bad, to think about it. I desperately wanted to come to uni and wouldn’t change it for anything, but that doesn’t mean it’s always a walk in the park.

  1. I’m desperately homesick. I’ve never been as homesick before, yes, I’ve missed my dogs and family but now I want to be with them all the time.
  2. I have grades now that count towards my degree (they’re good, but that doesn’t mean I’m entirely happy with them, as I worked so hard for them and completely burned myself out).
  3. I’ve realised how beneficial exercise is. Even half an hour walking offers me a reprieve and a time when I don’t think about anything at all except walking (unless I’m listening to an audiobook). Same for the gym.
  4. I have to actually make life decisions.
  5. I need to plan work experience.
  6. I’m going to write more poetry!
  7. I’m struggling to get motivated, maybe because of the grades, maybe the homesickness, I’m not sure. Last semester I was well ahead of the game for quite a few weeks.
  8. I’m trying to read books for myself and not just for uni.

Do you find that every semester brings new changes and challenges? Each time, something has changed, good and bad. I enjoy the change, most of the time, and I’ll get myself together eventually and enjoy this semester no doubt. Especially writing poetry; I haven’t written much for a while now, and I can’t wait to be writing it again!

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Throwback to summer with this picture. I miss these two SO much (but that hasn’t changed a bit).

Review: Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters – Rick Riordan

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Genre: Middle grade, fantasy

Publication date: 1st April 2006 by Hyperion books

Format: Paperback purchased from The Works

After a year spent trying to prevent a catastrophic war among the Greek gods, Percy Jackson finds his seventh-grade school year unnervingly quiet. His biggest problem is dealing with his new friend, Tyson–a six-foot-three, mentally challenged homeless kid who follows Percy everywhere, making it hard for Percy to have any “normal” friends.

But things don’t stay quiet for long. Percy soon discovers there is trouble at Camp Half-Blood: The magical borders which protect Half-Blood Hill have been poisoned by a mysterious enemy, and the only safe haven for demigods is on the verge of being overrun by mythological monsters. To save the camp, Percy needs the help of his best friend, Grover, who has been taken prisoner by the Cyclops Polyphemus on an island somewhere in the Sea of Monsters–the dangerous waters Greek heroes have sailed for millenia–only today, the Sea of Monsters goes by a new name…the Bermuda Triangle.

Now Percy and his friends–Grover, Annabeth, and Tyson–must retrieve the Golden Fleece from the Island of the Cyclopes by the end of the summer or Camp Half-Blood will be destroyed. But first, Percy will learn a stunning new secret about his family–one that makes him question whether being claimed as Poseidon’s son is an honor or simply a cruel joke.

(from goodreads.com)

This was such a good second book; I’m still fairly new to the series, but I already feel so invested in the world and the characters’ lives. The introduction of Tyson, a cyclops, really changed the character dynamic in the story and I loved his character as well.

The character development almost seemed a little different in this book. I mean, it was explicitly stated in the first book – to an extent – whereas in this one I felt that there was more showing and less telling. I enjoyed both, but I felt that maybe it was done ‘better’ in this book. We learn some of Percy and Annabeth’s deepest flaws and worries, and I loved this, it really altered the story and the way I saw the characters in their given situations.

Reading this book almost makes me a lot more excited for the continuation of the series. The first book made me want to continue to see what happened next, whereas this one has given me faith in Rick Riordan (not that I didn’t have any faith in him before – the sheer number of books he has published says it all really about his writing and storytelling abilities!). He took his characters and gave them a completely new adventure, adding new characters and changing relationships along the way. It wasn’t just a continuation of the first book, it was a new story in itself.

The development of the backstories of several characters really caught my interest too – Annabeth’s in particular. I feel as though there is a lot more to her character compared to what has been revealed so far, and I look forward to where this will go later on in the series. Chiron, too, has a backstory that I hope to learn more about as I work my way through the rest of the books.

I really enjoyed this book, and I can’t wait to carry on through the series – I will be picking up the next one as soon as I’m on track with uni reading! This has definitely given me confidence that every book will be different in some way, and not just an ‘oh it’s a new summer so there must be a new adventure’ kind of thing, the adventures have their reason for being and are well thought-out. I completely understand the hype about this series now, and my only regret is not reading it sooner.

Rating: 4.5 / 5 🌟

Unique Blogger Award

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Thank you so much to Hannah for tagging me to do this!

Rules:

  1. Share the link of the blogger who has shown love to you by nominating you
  2. Answer the questions
  3. In the spirit of sharing love and solidarity with our blogging family, nominate 8-13 people for the same award
  4. Ask them 3 questions

My questions from Hannah:

  1. What was your favourite genre of books in 2017?
    Contemporaries probably, though I also loved the 19th Century classics I read.
  2. What’s a book that you really wanted to read last year but never got around to it?
    Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. I’ve heard mixed things about it, but regardless I want to read it myself and have my own opinion.
  3. If you could adapt one book into an amazing TV show, which book (or book series!) would you choose?
    I have to say the House of Night series because it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t. Done well, I think it could really work, though it would end up so long I probably would put off watching it (as I do most TV)😂

I tag anyone who wants to do this tag! Just comment down below so I can read your answers.

My questions to you:

  1. What do you want to read more of in 2018?
  2. Which book do you find yourself recommending to everyone?
  3. Which fictional character do you wish you could meet up with and go for a coffee (or drink of your choice!)?

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