January roundup and February TBR


What I read in January

As many of you might know from my moaning on here and Twitter, January was a slow reading month for me due to exams and assignments but I managed to finish off three books.

Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer

Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer – Rick Riordan

I thoroughly enjoyed the Percy Jackson series, so when I saw that Rick had written a Norse mythology series I knew I had to read it. I did an Audible trial throughout December and January and I didn’t really get on with the narration of it or the general concept of an audiobook, but I really enjoyed the story.

Magnus Chase follows the same concept of the Percy Jackson series and is packed full of action, interesting characters, humour, and general badassery. Well worth a read if you’ve enjoyed anything else Rick has written.

 

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver – Maggie Stiefvater

I picked up Shiver while in Paris over Christmas on a bit of a whim (and by that, I mean it had ‘Maggie Stiefvater’ on the side of it) and I’m so glad I did. As with The Raven Boys, Maggie’s world-building is so enthralling and drags you in straight away.

For me, Shiver had quite an old-school young adult feel to it; it suffers from a serious case of absent parents, and it reminds me of Twilight a little. I really enjoyed Shiver, it’s become a fast favourite, and I cannot wait to see what happens next.

 

All The Rage – Courtney Summers

I received a copy of All The Rage in exchange for an honest review, and my full review will be up this Friday. I didn’t get on with All The Rage as much as I wanted to.

The blurb didn’t match what the book was about, which was confusing and I felt that the plot was a bit all over the place and couldn’t quite settle. This should have been a book that made me angry about what our main character was going through; my blood should have boiled at the injustice of her situation, but it didn’t. I failed to connect with the character, which combined with the plot issues just didn’t do it for me.

It’s worth noting that my opinions are in the minority, as the majority of reviews on Goodreads are 5 or 4 stars, so don’t let me put you off reading it if you want to.

 


February to be read

Tell The Wolves I’m Home – Carol Rifka Brunt

This was the January pick for The Olive Fox Book Club, and it doesn’t look great that I haven’t finished it yet! If I can put my defence forward:

  • Exams
  • I’m finding it slow going so far (did anyone else find it slow?)

 

February’s Olive Fox Book Club Pick

This hasn’t been announced yet, but obviously I will be reading February’s choice for The Olive Fox Book Club.

If you’re interested in taking part, keep an eye on my Twitter, The Olive Fox website and their Twitter page as February’s poll will be opening very soon!

 

Did I Mention I Need You – Estelle Maskame

Towards the end of last year, I read Did I Mention I Love You and while I had very mixed feelings about it, I am hooked on the characters. I need to know what happens to them next.

In the interest of transparency, I have received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

TBR jar pick: The Uninvited – Liz Jensen

In an effort to get through some of the books that have been sat on my shelf for a while, I’m picking one book at random using a TBR cup.

I bought The Uninvited about two years ago and it has been sat on my shelf untouched since then. I was really excited about it when I first got it, so it’s about time I read it.

 

What did you read in January? What are you planning to read in February?

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Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Oh, Maggie Stiefvater, how I do love thee. (I blame Cait at Paper Fury for my new found love.) Shiver is the most adorable and simultaneously stressful book I have ever read.

My relationship with Shiver starts at the end of December, in Shakespeare & Company in Paris. The shop was absolutely packed, way too packed for perusing. Doesn’t anyone know that you can’t peruse a book shop when it’s rammed?

At the back of the shop, they have a very small young adult section. And by small, I mean one bookshelf and I had read a big chunk of them, as they stock the most popular ones. I was ferreting around on my hands and feet, hoping that viewing the bookshelf from a lower angle would somehow mean more books just magically appeared. Poor Tom was stood there patiently (he’s a saint, I swear), when he pointed to Shiver and said “what about this?” I paused, saw Maggie Stiefvater’s name, inner Cait told me I must get it, and that was that.

Like, The Raven Boys, Shiver consumes you and drags you into it without you really noticing. It’s only when you put the book down that you realise you were in a completely different world, and now you have to have the real world which doesn’t involve adorable werewolves. I adore Maggie’s world building skills; her descriptions are so rich and detailed without ever being suffocating. Her descriptions of a sweet shop had my mouth watering and me hankering (I don’t think I’ve ever used the word ‘hankering’ before, but it feels right here.) to go and sniff a sweet shop to find out if I’m part werewolf.

Our main character’s, Grace and Sam, are well developed with good backstories, making it easy for you to just fall into their lives alongside them. Grace is snarky and exactly the kind of person I would be friends with; I think I would be Olive as she’s obsessed with photography. Sam is much more sensitive, and that seems to balance Grace’s dry humour.

I’m pretty sure it’s not a spoiler for me to tell you that their relationship is adorable. It’s your typical sweet YA romance; well if your typical sweet YA romance involves a boy who might turn into a werewolf when it gets cold out.

It’s adorable and hopeful, which makes the whole thing so stressful because you need to find out what happens next. I was glued to the last third of the book (screw revision) and I think I actually did the whole “held a breath she didn’t know she was holding in” thing several times because ANTICIPATION! I needed a rest after the end.

The secondary characters are just as interesting, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else we might find out about the pack. I’m sure Shelby has a couple of interesting stories to give up.

To my delight, Shiver wraps itself up quite nicely. Of course, it is part of a series (and I’m looking forward to reading Linger) but everything is wrapped up quite neatly.

Unfortunately, I started reading Shiver just before exams so I didn’t read it as fast as I normally would have done, so I can’t tell you that I tore through it in a couple of days. What I can tell you is that while I was revising, my brain was trying to distract me and get me to pick Shiver up. It was longing to know what happened next – so if I fail my exams, I’m blaming Maggie for distracting my brain. Those are extenuating circumstances, right?

I have done a lot of fangirling about Shiver so far, but it does have niggles:

  • Conveniently non-existent parents – WON’T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!
  • Some more conveniently absent parents – some major plot points relied on the fact that the parents were not in places they should be.
  • Why does no one care that Grace suddenly isn’t at school?
  • Or that Olive suddenly isn’t at school?
  • WHY DOES NO ONE CARE ABOUT THE CHILDREN?!

 


In short

Shiver consumes you all at once and completely, dragging you into this adorable and stressful world as you hold a breath you didn’t know you’d been holding in, desperately hoping that everything turns out OK for Sam and Grace while the parents are conveniently absent.

What was the last book you read?

Shiver Maggie Stiefvater book rating - new favourite

Shiver Book Cover Shiver
The Wolves of Mercy Falls
Maggie Stiefvater
Young adult, fantasy, romance, paranormal, werewolves
1st August 2009
Paperback
Shakespeare & Company

 When a local boy is killed by wolves, Grace's small town becomes a place of fear. But Grace is fascinated by the pack, and finds herself drawn to a yellow-eyed wolf. There's something about him - something almost human. Then Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away...

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Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer audiobook Rick Riordan

Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer was definitely a worthy first book to complete in 2016.

I actually started it at the beginning of December. I was in a mega reading slump, depsite having a handful of good books on the go, and I thought that trying out an audiobook might help, so I signed up for an Audible trial. It turns out, audiobooks and me don’t get on too well (that’s a story for another day), but I really enjoyed Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer.

In November, I finished off Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, and after discovering he was writing a series about Norse mythology, it was a no brainer; I had to read it.

Essentially, Magnus Chase follows the same formula as Percy Jackson; someone discovers they are the child of a god and they have magic powers. They meet some other magic-powered people and set off on quests to do stuff for other people, to find out where other people are who want them to do things for them, to eventually defeat someone evil.

It would have been easy for this series to be a rinse and repeat, but Rick Riordan did a fantastic job of making it stand out on it’s own and creating a wonderful world that I wish I could explore myself.

 

Why you need to read this book

  • The characters; they’re quirky, snarky, have good back stories. Jack is brilliant. Samirah is wonderful. Blitz and Hearthstone are fantastic also. THEY’RE ALL REALLY GOOD, OK?
  • The friendship; I am so happy that Rick Riordan focused on friendships, rather than romance. He did that pretty well in the Percy Jackson series too.
  • The humour; “babes before blades,” is the best line I’ve read in a book in a while. It’s a book that had me chuckling at so many points.
  • Pop culture references; I always enjoy it when a fantasy world makes reference to pop culture. For example, in Magnus Chase, Thor streams TV in HD on his hammer – he’s about to start Game of Thrones.
  • The world; I’m a big fan of Norse mythology, and the world Rick Riordan creates is so immersive that I wish I could hop on a plane and explore it myself.
  • Percy Jackson references; If you’re a Percy Jackson fan, you’ll be happy to know there are a couple of references to series and one character from the series even makes an appearance in Magnus Chase. You can probably guess who from the last name…

The only negative feelings I have about this book are that perhaps it’s a little longer than it needs to be. There were points towards the end of the book where it felt like things were being dragged out a little unnecessarily, but it wasn’t a massive annoyance for me. I think it would have been less of an annoyance if I’d read it, because I could have read those parts faster than the narrator read them.

 

A bit about the audiobook

Since the narration is pretty important when it comes to an audiobook I wanted to quickly touch on my thoughts on that. I wasn’t overly impressed by Christopher Guetig‘s narration, mostly because I felt his voice did not sound like that of a 16-year-old; his narration reminded me a lot of the voice used for the first Percy Jackson book which I listened to. Magnus did not sound like a 16-year-old boy.

I was pretty disappointed with the voice used for Samirah also because he also made her sound really young, but I don’t think he got a great handle on her tone of voice in general. Everything she said was said in exactly the same way, and most of the time it made her sound a bit weak, even when she was saying something she was annoyed about, or being fierce about.

Also, the accents were pretty bad. Especially the Irish one.

 

In short

A fun blend of Norse mythology, adventure, pop culture, and wonderful characters.

 

Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer book rating - really good

I love Norse mythology so if you have any recommendations, please let me know.

Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer Book Cover Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard
Rick Riordan
Fantasy, Adventure, Mythology
October 6th, 2015
Audiobook

Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.

One day, he’s tracked down by a man he’s never met—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. The man tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.

The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.

When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.

Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .

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9 Best Books I Read in 2015

I don’t know about you, but I love it when we get towards the end of the year and I get to find out what people’s favourite books of the year were. Today, I’m sharing my 9 favourite books of 2015, and I hope you’re going to share some of your favourites with me.

Watch the video above or read on to find out about the books that have topped my list this year. Click on the title or author to read my review.

The Raven Boys – Maggie Stiefvater

The first book I read in 2015 got the year off to an excellent start. After hearing Cait at Paper Fury talk about The Raven Boys and Maggie Steifvater repeatedly, I finally delved into The Raven Boys and boy was the wait worth it.

Maggie creates stunningly detailed worlds, that leave you wondering whether or not the world you’re reading about is in fact the world you’re living in.

 

All The Bright Places – Jennifer Niven

I love books that deal with mental illness and give readers an accurate portrayal into the life of someone with a mental illness, or what it’s like to care for someone with a mental illness, and All The Bright Places does both of these things.

It tells the story of Violet and Finch who meet as a result of difficult situations they’re both in. It’s heartwarming and absolutely heartbreaking all in the same book. I’m still not over the book and I read it about 9 or 10 months ago now.

 

The Rose Society – Marie Lu

The Rose Society is somehow even better than Marie Lu’s 2014 release, The Young Elites. It sees Adelina become even darker and more ruthless, much like Game of Thrones’ Daenerys Targaryen. The beautiful world is even more enchanting and I found myself wishing it was a place you could visit more than once.

 

The Girl On The Train – Paula Hawkins

I love a good thriller, and after hearing so much hype about this over the summer, I was excited to read it as part of The Olive Fox Book Club.

Paula Hawkins has created characters that are detailed and absolute despicable, but you still find yourself desperate to know what happened to them.

If, like me, you are sometimes put off by the hype, then don’t be because The Girl On The Train lives up to it.

 

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

See above. Fangirl is one of those books I put off reading for so long because of all the hype around it but this is another one that absolutely lives up to the hype. Yet again, Rainbow Rowell has created realistic and relatable characters that you end up feeling like you know by the end of the book.

Fangirl is a lovely blend of learning to become independent, friendship, coming of age, family issues, and a sweet romance to top it all off.

 

Your Voice Is All I Hear – Leah Scheier

Like All The Bright Places, Your Voice Is All I Hear is an important book that gives readers an accurate portrayal of mental illness. This book allows you to read from the point of view of a girl who finds herself in a relationship with someone with schizophrenia.

It looks at not only the issues of being in a relationship with someone with mental illness, but also the pressure, stigma and comments from family, friends, and classmates.

 

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Illustrated) – J. K. Rowling and Jim Kay [No review yet, but keep an eye out for one in the New Year.)

This is everything I wanted the illustrated copies of Harry Potter to be and so much more. Somehow, it made the story even more magical and I found myself excitedly turning the pages not only for the story, but to see what stunning illustrations were over the page.

 

Only Ever Yours – Louise O’Neill

This is not a book to read when you fancy a cosy afternoon with a nice book. Absolutely nothing good happens in Only Ever Yours, but don’t let that deter you. Louise O’Neill drags you into a world where women are clearly second class citizens and spend the childhood and teenage years training to be everything a man could want.

It deals with sexism, eating disorders, competitiveness based on appearances and more. It’s not an easy read, but it’s an important one.

 

Magonia – Maria Dahvana Headley

I didn’t write this in any kind of order, but I did definitely save the best ’til last. And so, it should come as little surprise to you if you’ve been reading my blog for a few months now that I’ve chosen Magonia as my favourite book of 2015.

Magonia is so unlike anything else I’ve read before, and I fell absolutely head over heels in love with it. The world building is amazing, and I can’t help but wonder if something like Magonia exists every time I look up at the clouds.

It’s a wonderful combination of life, friendship, love, family, action, space ships, and more.

 

Go on, tell me what were the best books you read in 2015?

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5 books to make you warm and fuzzy this Christmas

When I think about Christmas, I think about being all cosy, and reading a book that makes you go all fuzzy on the inside.

I’m always on the hunt for a nice fuzzy books, so I thought I would share my favourites with you in the hopes that you will share your fuzzy books with me.

Anna / Lola / Isla – Stephanie Perkins

What list of fuzzy books would be complete without mentioning Stephanie Perkins’ heart-warming trilogy:

  • Anna and the French Kiss
  • Lola and the Boy Next Door
  • Isla and the Happily Ever After

I defrost a little inside just thinking about those three books. For me, Anna is definitely the sweetest and the best, but you really can’t go wrong with the other two either.

If you enjoy books with realistic characters that you feel like you know, getting a serious case of wanderlust, and some of the cutest romance, then these books are for you.

 

Love, Rosie – Cecelia Ahern

I picked this up partly because the main character shares my name, and partly because the film was being advertised everywhere when I went to Dublin last year.

Love, Rosie is a fuzzy story about the lives of two best friends, that starts when they’re in school together and ends when they reach middle age (though the film ignored a huge chunk of the book – the book is waaaaay better). The characters are so real, as are the experiences they go through.

Throughout the whole book, you’re mentally screaming “ADMIT YOU LIKE EACH OTHER, DAMMIT!”. Definitely one to read if you want to be all fuzzy inside and have a chuckle too.

 

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl is everything you need in a coming-of-age romance, and more. The romance is balanced against Cath going to university, leaving her Dad behind, making her own friends, dealing with her twin sister wanting to do things on her own, handling being in uncertain situations, and more. It works perfectly, and I think Rainbow did a wonderful job of creating situations that a lot of people can relate to.

 

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight – Jennifer E. Smith

If you’re short on time over Christmas (aren’t we all?), The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is exactly what you need to fulfill your fuzzy reading needs.

It takes place over the space of 24 hours, is fast-paced, gripping, and took me about four hours to finish. Despite the short reading time, everything is wrapped up nicely, though of course you wouldn’t complain if you got to find out what happened next for the main characters.

 

Dream A Little Dream – Giovanna Fletcher

All of the books I’ve mentioned so far (apart from Love, Rosie) have been young adult books, but if you’re looking for characters who are mid-twenties, Giovanna Fletcher has you sorted.

Dream A Little Dream deals with the frustration of our MC’s career stagnating, annoying people in the workplace, sucky bosses, dealing with exes, wonderful friends, and, of course, a romance right out of your dreams. I’m sure we can all relate to at least one of those things there, right?

It’s one of those books that has you hooked from the first page and desperate for more when you reach the end. Luckily for you, Giovanna has released a festive novella called Dream A Little Christmas Dream, which I’m sure will be just as good.

 

What fuzzy books do you recommend I read over Christmas?

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November Roundup and December TBR

November wasn’t a great reading month; I finished a grand total of two books, and I’m not setting myself a much bigger target for December.

Click play on the video above, or read on to find out which books I read in November and what I plan to read in December.

November roundup

As I said above, I only finished off two books in November. I didn’t finish anything off at all during the second half of the month.

The first book I finished off was Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian by Rick Riordan. This is the fifth and final book in The Percy Jackson series. I put off reading this for a while because I didn’t want the series to come to an end. These books have been the perfect books for when I’m busy or if I’m feeling in a bit of a reading slump and want something light, fast-paced, and fun to read.

The Last Olympian is absolutely action-packed and I felt like I needed a bit of a rest after finishing it. There was so much going on that, at points, I got confused about who was who. All in all, it was a fun book that I tore through, and I gave it 4 starts. You can read my full review of The Last Olympian here.

The second book I finished in November was The Olive Fox November Book Club pick, and that was The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith. I got through this in about 4 hours, and it’s a good job it’s a short book because I doubt I’d have finished it otherwise.

It takes place over the course of 24 hours, and starts when Hadley misses her flight to London to her Dad’s wedding to his new woman. She’s not happy about that at all, and isn’t over her parents divorce. While waiting for her next flight, she meets Owen, who by a stroke of luck that only happens in books, is on the same flight as her and is sat a seat across from her.

There is instalove, but the book takes place over 24 hours so you can’t really complain about that. Jennifer E. Smith does a brilliant job of helping you understand why the two characters like each other, so it’s really not a bad case of instalove at all.

 

December to be read

With Christmas, holidays, work, and revision coming up, I’m not setting myself a huge goal but I am hoping to finish off three books:

  • Allegiant Collector’s Edition – Veronica Roth
  • The Manifesto On How To Be Interesting – Holly Bourne
  • My True Love Gave To Me – Stephanie Perkins: This is December’s Olive Fox Book Club pick. I got about three quarters of the way through this last year, so I’m looking forward to starting it over and finishing it off.

What did you read in November, and what are you hoping to read in December?

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Book crush books

Nope, I’m not talking about characters I’ve got a crush on, I mean the entire book.

There are some books I enjoyed so much that I feel like I’m crushing on them from afar, admiring them, while they go about their day (sat on my shelf) completely oblivious to my existence. I can’t be the only one who feels like this, can I?

Magonia – Maria Dahvana Headley

Oh, I have a definite crush on this book. I read it at the end of July and I still cannot stop thinking about it. I really want to read it again, but at the same time I don’t – does that even make any sense? It feels so sacred that it would be wrong to read it again.

I loved everything about this book. The world is wonderful and is something I wish existed for real – in fact, maybe it even does?

The characters were people I liked and really rooted for. My heart was aching as I read, desperate to know how things would turn out for them.

I’m so eager for the next book to come out, and I’m definitely regularly stalking Maria’s Twitter profile to look for any Magonia sequel-related hints.

 

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks – E. Lockhart

This book is that crush that’s so cool that every little thing they do drives you crazy. Where do I even start on why I love this book so much?

To start with, Frankie Landau-Banks is just an awesome person who is going to play by her rules regardless of what the ol’ boys club want her to do, and I respect her so much for that. The tone of voice, and the way this book was told was really enjoyable too because there were a few occasions where E. Lockhart broke the fourth wall, which I loved.

We Were Liars is definitely E. Lockhart’s most popular book, and I think The Disreputable History is so underrated. In my opinion, it’s better than We Were Liars (which I loved by the way) and is well worth a read if you enjoy YA books set in boarding schools with a take no prisoners female lead.

 

Anna and the French Kiss – Stephanie Perkins

Oh Stephanie Perkins is the Queen of creating YA books you slip right into and feel like you’re in whichever wonderful location the characters are at.

What I loved so much about Anna is that Paris in itself becomes a character, and you feel like you’re discovering Paris while you’re reading along, which is amazing. How can that not be amazing?

The characters are realistic, there are multiple issues, the romance is the most adorable thing ever, and just squee.

 

Ok, your turn; what books do you have a book crush on and why?

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