August Wrap Up

Oh wow, I did not have a great reading month in August, you guys! I am ever so slightly ashamed of myself. At the end of July, I went to YALC and although it was amazing being surrounded by books and all things bookish, I definitely fell into a slump because I missed YALC. Truth be told, I had amazing reading months in June and July because we spent a lot of time on trains round Europe and so I got in a lot of reading then. So both being home from travelling and the come down of YALC really made me feel slumpy. I also started a full time job within the first few days of August so I literally have had no time to read. I am just about beginning to read more as I try and read in my lunch breaks at work, but I still haven’t dedicated myself an hour every evening to read yet. I will get better!

I didn’t read much, but I did read. That’s the main thing. In August, I read:

Saga Vol. 1 

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

I, very luckily, received this one from Penguin. I was so happy to read this one and, although I don’t actually know much about Wonder Woman, I feel like I do know a bit more about her after reading this wonderful book. It was so good and I definitely do need to sharpen up my Wonder Woman knowledge after reading this one. As always, Leigh never fails to disappoint! My review for Wonder Woman: Warbringer can be found here.

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

I read this as part of a buddy read with Morgan and Anna. I fell behind pretty quickly but I did manage to finish it before the end of the month so yay me! This was on my 2017 TBR list so I’m glad that’s another book knocked off! Just another 20 or so to go!

So there you have it, my disappointing August. Hopefully September will be better but I sort of doubt it! I just really need to up my reading speed and dedicate time to read!

 

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Editing Emma by Chloe Seager

 

Title: Editing Emma

Author: Chloe Seager

Pages: 331

Publisher: Harlequin Young Adult

Published: 2017

Source: Bought

Rating: ★★★★★


When sixteen-year-old Emma Nash is ‘ghosted’ by the love of her life Leon Naylor, she does what any normal teenage girl would do…
Emma spends the summer lurking in her bedroom, avoiding all human contact (and the shower), surrounded by the collection of chewit wrappers she saved from packs Leon gave her, back when he actually acknowledged her existence…

But seeing Leon suddenly ‘In a relationship’ on Facebook with the perfect Anna, spurs Emma into action and she embarks on a mission to make positive changes to her life (or ‘edits,’ if you will) and vows to use the internet for more than obsessively stalking Leon’s activities! Instead, she will use it for good and noble causes like finding someone who will actually be nice to her, and recording her findings for the rest of the world to see (i.e. BFF Steph and her mum) on her new Editing Emma blog.

But Emma soon discovers her ‘habit’ is harder to break than she first thought – turns out she’s not the only one ‘editing’ herself online (thank you Tinder for finding her mum’s profile, age 35, really?) and that life through an Instagram filter isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. But it could be worse, she could have outed her best friend, accidentally chatted up a 12 year old boy and revealed to the world why Leon Naylor is worth no girl’s time or virginity… oh no wait, that’s exactly what happened…


I finished this book in about 4-4.5 hours and if that doesn’t tell you that I more than enjoyed this book, I don’t know what will.

I had never heard of this book until YALC this year. Due to my 6 weeks away in June and July, I was pretty out of the loop regarding new releases. I practically had no clue what was being released this Summer but when I saw Jim from Yayayeah_ on Twitter talking about this book, I have to say, I was intrigued. I looked it up on the web and was more intrigued. I then saw it in Waterstones and finally had my chance to actually see the book in person and that was basically it.

The format of this book is in blog posts which is something that made it so easy and quick to read. I found Emma quite funny and loved that she had a supportive group of girls as her friends. This book reminded me of Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging a little which was a book that I read years ago when I was in high school and loved. Editing Emma is the perfect mix of funny and serious. It includes the main topics that occupy teenage girls lives – friendships, family, love – but it also included more taboo topics that I have never read about in YA fiction before such as sex, masturbation and periods. I was, at first, a little taken aback because when have you ever read a contemporary YA fiction that talks about this? Never. But in fact, shouldn’t topics like that be discussed with teenagers in ways other than just that CPSE lesson you have every few weeks or months? This book covers that.

The plot itself follows Emma trying to reinvent herself over a few months. Throughout the plot, we see her attend college, attend parties, build a relationship up with her mum, how she interacts with her friends, and how she attempts to get over Leon. There were parts of this book that actually made me laugh out loud, to the point where my sister told me to stop being so weird. One of my favourite funny scenes is when Emma is called on to reenact a character from Frankenstein. Just thinking about it now makes me smile.

Emma herself is a funny person. At first I found myself a little frustrated by her love for Leon after he ghosted her, what with her keeping old chewit wrappers, and I really just wanted to shake her, but then I realised that I was looking at this book as a..new adult? Is that what I am? I don’t know. When I tried to remember what it was like when I and my friends were 16, which wasn’t all that long ago, it really made me think that Emma’s behaviour is typical of a teenage girl at that age. Her relationship with her small group of friends was one that I admired. Though all groups of friends have their ups and downs, as this book shows, it was great to see that they supported one another and were able to discuss taboo topics as previously mentioned.

As I have already mentioned, Editing Emma is written in blog format. This helped me to get through it quite quickly. It also meant the writing wasn’t too over complicated because a teenage girl was behind the blog posts, although thankfully that wasn’t that much slang in there because the older I get, the more I realise that I am no longer ‘down with the kids’. There was also the use of other social media featured, such as Facebook and Twitter. Both sites are such a large part of social interactions nowadays so it was good to see that this book featured current social media platforms.

I would most definitely recommend this book. It is funny, realistic and such a quick, easy read, perfect for when you might be feeling a little slumpy or you’re not sure what to read and you just want something to pull you out of that mood. 10/10 would recommend.

You can see more of my pictures (like above!) here!

June & July Haul!

I am very late in showing off my June and July book haul. I began a new job at the beginning of August and so that has really kept me busy, and honestly, it is such a long day as I am out the house from 7:15am until 6:15pm! So there’s the reason why this haul is so, so late! I’m still going to post this because my birthday is in July and so I want to show you guys what books I received for my birthday, but a few I also bought or received! So without further ado, here is the haul!

First pile!

Birthday Presents: Harry Potter #4-7

Sent by Publisher: Daughter of the Burning City from Harlequin and Wonder Woman: Warbringer from Penguin! (Thank you so much!)

Morse Code Wrens of Station X was a present from my parents from their holiday in Gibraltar!

Pile Two!

Birthday presents: Beauty and the Beast Illustrated Edition and Wires and Nerve from my family. The Girl of Ink and Stars, Reign of Shadows and Dunkirk from ChristineWink, Poppy. Midnight. from MiaHunted from Suzanne. Not pictured is The Bear and the Nightingale and P.S. I Like You which Naz got me – I took these pictures prior to receiving the package!

Bought: Our Dark Duet and A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab

Last but not least, this boxset of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books from my parents for my birthday!

I had a decent book haul in June/July. Most were from July except for Wonder Woman and Daughter of the Burning City! I hope you enjoyed this haul. My YALC haul will also finally be up very soon!

The Graces by Laura Eve

 

Title: The Graces

Author: Laura Eve

Pages: 415

Publisher: Faber and Faber

Published: 2016 

Source: Received in Illumicrate box

Rating: ★


Everyone said the Graces were witches.

They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.

They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.

All I had to do was show them that person was me.

Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?


Most of the books I have reviewed thus far have mostly been in the range of 3 to 5 star ratings. This book was different. I really cannot even to describe to you the disappointment I felt when reading this book. This will be a shortish review as I really just did not enjoy this that much. It almost seemed a bit like a pointless story to me. I understand that some people have actually enjoyed this book, however, I am on the opposite end of the spectrum. I did give this book 2 stars when I first read it which I hesitant to give, however, I have now given this book 1 star.

This review does have spoilers in it, so proceed at your own risk!

This book is set on the coast in the U.K.. The main character, River, moves to a new town and is basically obsessed with the Graces siblings. There is a rumour that the Graces are witches, probably because they’re strange in comparison to the rest of the kids at school, yet everyone is taken with these apparently higher, gorgeous beings. River takes an automatic liking to them, although it is a bit more than like and an obsessive love, want and desire to be part of their group.

Now don’t get me wrong, I was looking forward to this book because I haven’t read a lot of books involving witches and so I was eager to see what this would be about, but as I’ve said before, the main bulk of this book is River and her obsessiveness over the Graces. It’s like her whole life revolves around the siblings and how she can get them to like her. There is virtually no plot to this book. We essentially plod through it just following River and her relationship with Summer and the others. It’s made out by River, the narrator, that she’s achieved something so big about being friends with a Graces and this makes her slightly more insufferable because it seems to me like she’s all ‘look at me, I’m better than all of you because I did something none of you could’. There is some ‘magic’ in this book, but that is literally about it when it comes to witchcraft.

I’m not usually one to put books down, but I was so close to not even finishing this. It was only because my Kindle said I had half an hour left that I pushed through. Was it worth it? The simple answer is no. It did not add anything to my overall experience. There was no huge twist that made me think ‘wow, this has really turned the book around for me’. Instead, I was met with an attempt at a huge plot twist but by this point, I just wasn’t interested. It was almost as if the author had realised the book was coming to an end and quickly had to shove a twist in there. The twist was pretty predictable from the start and I was not surprised at all.

In all honesty, this book just was not for me. I have seen other ratings on Goodreads following my read of this book and I am glad to see that I am not alone in my feelings towards this ‘story’. I think the only thing I actually like about this book is the cover.


You can see more of my pictures (like above!) at here!

International Book Shops

On my 6 week trip around Europe, I obviously encountered a couple of bookshops..well 5 or 6 is more like it. Three of these bookshops are considered to be quite famous. I thought I’d do a mini review of the bookshops that I visited. I would recommend you visit them all if you are in the cities, but some of them were a little disappointing for me personally. So without further ado, here we go..

Shakespeare & Company, Paris

Shakespeare & Company in Paris has been on my list of places and more specifically, bookshops, to visit and so as soon as we booked our accommodation in Paris, I informed Myles that we would be visiting, and visit we did! I love the vibe in Shakespeare and Co., it felt old but also so lovely. It was also organised and tidy so I was able to find books easily, although I did have to wander a bit to find the YA section. I did expect a larger YA section in a such a famous and well-known bookshop, but the adult section did take up the rest of the bookshop. There were some areas for you to have a sit and there was also a cafe attached to it, which was cool! Although we didn’t actually go into the cafe because we needed to save our money for the rest of the trip!

All in all, I think Shakespeare & Co. is one of my favourite bookshops and I’m super glad we got the chance to go. I would like to visit again in the future, but I doubt I’ll be going to Paris anytime soon! Here is me in one of the nook and crannies of the shop on the typewriter although I didn’t actually type anything!

Libraria Acqua Alta, Venice

This was a funny one. I’m sure you’ve probably heard of this bookshop. As you can see in the picture below, it has the stairs made out of books. It also has a gondola in the middle of it. I wasn’t totally thrilled with this shop. I was excited to visit it because the idea of a Gondola in the middle sounded so cool, but this shop is quite small inside and with the amount of people that were shuffling about in there while we visited was enough to make anyone get a little frustrated with the lack of space. It was also super messy. I saw one YA book and that was Half-Bad by Sally Green. The plus side was that they had a delightful section of bookmarks and pictures and that there was seating right in front of the canal, as you can sort of see in the picture above. I love the little doodle instructing you where the fire exit is!

I was a little disappointed by the shop, however I wasn’t disappointed by the book stairs, although in my head, I had thought that the book stairs actually led up to the bookshop but it doesn’t – the stairs are in fact out the back of the shop and you can look just over this wall onto one of the many canals of Venice!

Cook & Book, Brussels


By far the biggest disappointment of the bookshops we visited. I have often seen this in the ‘top bookshops in the world’ posts on Pinterest and buzzfeed. Known for it’s flying books attached to the ceiling, when we visited, we saw no such thing. I think this must’ve been in one of the many rooms that this bookshop had. We thought we visited all of the rooms, however we must not have done as I saw Alwyn Hamilton had visited a week or so after we got home and I saw her pictures of the room that had the flying books. Also, for such a famed bookshop, I couldn’t find any English books (I can’t speak any languages so english it is for me), however, I did see the French editions of Six of Crows, Crooked Kingdom and A Darker Shade of Magic! Perhaps I will have to go back to Brussels for a day just to visit this bookshop again and see the flying books!

We did visit a few other bookshops on our travels, however I forgot to take pictures! I did enjoy the American bookstore in Amsterdam as well as the Waterstones there too. It was just nice to see some bookshops that I had heard about on the internet or via Instagram and I’m super lucky that my boyfriend wouldn’t complain about being in the bookshops, no matter how long we were in them for!

 

Why I Stayed at Home for University 


After reading through Ashleigh‘s post on why she has chosen to stay at home for University, I thought that I would write my own post from my perspective as a recent Graduate (although my University doesn’t actually hold Graduation week until October/November). I think that picking a University to attend is a big decision and it really does rest on your grades at A-Level or Highers or any other qualification you do that enables you to attend university.

When I was picking my university choices of UCAS, I had my local university twice and then two universities further away. Both my first and second choice were my university. I did end up taking a year out but I went to University a year later – I actually applied during Fresher’s week so it was sort of a last minute decision but I had been thinking about it for a while during my gap year anyway.

You might think ‘didn’t you want to move away from uni?’ and the thing is, I actually have everything I need where I live. I have a job which means income, my parents were absolutely fine with me staying at home and my main thought is that I am at University to get my degree and further my education. If I can do it cheaper when it’s already so expensive, I may as well. Plus I know a few people who moved away and then came home and feel like they’re a kid again with their parents telling them what to do! I definitely don’t feel like that because my parents have seen me grow up more whilst at University.

I live roughly 7 minutes away from the main university campus, which was the campus I was on for pretty much all of my lectures so there was no point me moving into halls at all. I understand that you may think ‘didn’t you miss the halls experience and making friends?’ The answer is a little bit, but it was not the end of the world. The idea that you only make friends if you live in halls is so far from right, it’s almost left. I attended the welcome events during freshers week (the ones I could attend as I was still working full time) and met some people at those, some who were on my course. I also then attended my lectures (obviously..) and made friends there, one of which is a definite friend for life. So halls is not the be all and end all of your university experience. In fact, throughout my three years at university, I made friends through other friends, but also through sports and society groups.

Society groups can be your best bet at meeting people. I dabbled in a few throughout my three years, but only in my third and final year did I attend a sports group, Pole fitness, which I attended almost every week. I made friends there, and although I couldn’t attend the socials every Wednesday night, I still made friends with the girls in my class. The best way to make friends while living at home is to really put yourself out there, whether it’s in your classes or in a sports or society group.

The other thing about halls is that you always hear students have had arguments with their flatmates. Halls aren’t all fun and games constantly. Also, students don’t live in them the whole duration of their course. They move out into student housing for second and third year and in both years, the work ramps up a bit. By the time you’ve made it into second year, most people have made friends and know who they are and so halls really aren’t that big of a deal. If you really feel like you are missing out on the ‘university away from home’ experience, move into student housing in your second year, before the workload increases.

One of the things that staying at home benefits you with, is that say you get a job in your first year of university, that then means you have a job to carry you through the whole three or four years. Then university finishes and you need to find a full time job. Unlike your friends that moved away for university that are now moving back home, you have that part-time job you got while at university while you’re looking for a new role, whereas those that have had to move home will have nothing straight away (unless they are lucky or do a store transfer!).

I personally finished university, worked for a month, and then left to go interrailing round Europe for 6 weeks, however based on my past experiences during my time at university and in my gap year, I was lucky enough to find a temporary job! Honestly though, staying at home enabled me to be able to save and go away interrailing, as had I moved away for university, I definitely would not have been able to go!

Do I sometimes wish that I had attended a University away from home? Yes, I do, but then I also don’t regret staying at home at all. Like I said, I have absolutely everything I need here. If I was to do a Masters, which I have considered doing and it is something I would like to do in the future, I would attend a different, but still close university so that I can still live at home.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting or having to stay at home and go to a local university, and I promise that you really don’t miss out on much. University and your experience of it really is what you make it to be.

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

 

Title: Wonder Woman: Warbringer

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Pages: 364

Publisher: Penguin

Published: August 2017

Source: ARC courtesy of Penguin (thank you!)

Rating: ★★★★.5


She will become one of the world’s greatest heroes: WONDER WOMAN. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning. . . .

Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world.

Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.


‘You do not enter a race to lose.’

Wonder Woman: Warbringer was a really interesting book for me as I’ve never read a book based on a superhero or comic book character before, so this was a new realm for me. I really enjoyed this book for many reasons, with a few being to do with friendship, family, learning about ourselves but also loyalty and of course, being the hero.

I actually went into this pretty blind when it comes to Wonder Woman’s background. Despite her having been around a long time, I really had no idea about who she actually was, where she came from and all that jazz so I was a littttle worried about whether I would struggle with this book. I did actually look up Wonder Woman so I had a little bit of awareness when it came to where she came from and Benjaminoftomes also explained to me a little about where Wonder Woman came from and a little bit about her too. The thing is, I didn’t actually need to worry about basically not knowing anything about Wonder Woman, because Leigh gave us her backing story within the first few chapters so that was really helpful. Definitely a good thing for those like me who are completely unaware.

Diana is such a fab character. I really love her almost-naive approach to the world, mostly because she has learnt all about the world through books so she does not have life experience in comparison to the other girls on her island. One of the other things I loved about Diana and is something that I felt was emphasised in this book, is the sisterly relationship that Diana has with the other girls on the island and holds very close to her. It is clear that Diana sees all the women on the island as her family and she would do anything to keep them safe. It is clear that Diana has compassion for others, and in this book, this costs her to an extent.

I also enjoyed the other relationships that Diana had, specifically her relationship with Alia, throughout this book. Alia is such a great character, as are the other characters featured in this book (I don’t want to use names as I don’t want to spoil it for others as this book is literally released today in the UK!). I felt that, despite Diana having not been in contact with the outside world before, she was quite knowledgable and there was a bit of banter between characters. This really added to the story and brought a topic deemed serious within the story down a notch with the friendly jokes and humour.

I felt that the plot was an interesting one and that it flowed really well. I enjoy Leigh Bardugo’s writing and her other books anyway, but they are set in fictitious, fantasy worlds so this was a little different to what she usually writes. However, her writing style just translates so well across all genres. I bet I could read any genre from Leigh and just love the writing. This was no different. I just absolutely loved the writing in this book, and there was plenty of dialogue so I was happy!

Now the setting. The beginning of this book opens up on the island of Themyscira, before heading off into the world as we know it and dropping us at New York City! Having visited New York last year, I really enjoyed the book being partially set in New York as I was pretty much able to identify where exactly the characters were. This made for extra enjoyable reading! The setting does change a few times throughout this book, but it is all necessary and it is interesting to see different places throughout this book. What I most like about the fact that we see Themyscira and New York, is that we see a fictional world mixed with a real world place.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book. There was so much to love and enjoy. The only thing that stopped it from being a 5 star read for me was that it did take me a while to get into it. I don’t know if that was more me than the book because after YALC, I was feeling a bit slumpy, but either way, it took me a bit of time to get into it, but once I did, I was away!

A huge thank you to Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of this, along with the super cute Wonder Woman badge which I wore on my jacket at YALC!

You can see more of my pictures (like above!) here!