Monday, 31 October 2016

October Wrap Up and November TBR Pile - Overambitious TBR piles, NaNoWriMo and a Hiatus


Ha, gotcha.

I can't believe it's the end of October, I just can't. I'm kind of sad as October is one of my favourite months. I must say, though, I'm really looking forward to November because then it's practically December which means CHRISTMAS! I love Christmas, it's the best! Also, is it socially acceptable to start singing Christmas songs yet? PLEASE SAY IT IS.

October was a fun month! I met some amazing authors, I've been walking into town most days, buying too many books from charity stores and living in the library. I attended YA Shot and the Cheltenham Literature Festival which was SO MUCH FUN. So I had a lovely October! How was yours?

It's November tomorrow which means NaNoWriMo which means tears and breakdowns and excessive chocolate consumption – SUCH FUN! I wasn't going to participate as school but I have 15,000 words left to write from last year's draft and then I've completed my first draft. WHAT?! It might not seem like a big deal to frequent NaNoWriMoers (is that what we're called?) but since I was ten I've been meaning to actually finish writing a book so I'm feeling very motivated to write those last few words!

Because of this (and because of school) I will be taking a hiatus for the month of November. It might not even be for the whole month but I have a lot of things coming up with school and writing, so if you don't see me around much DON'T PANIC, I will be back!

I've also stupidly bravely decided to try to read 10 books this month, which isn't a lot for most people but I generally only average around 4-7 books a month so I'd like to get that number up!

Would you like to see a picture of my (probably) overambitious TBR pile? Of course you do.

Wish me luck. I need it.
The GiverPrince Frog FaceHeist Society (Heist Society, #1)Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)Gemina (The Illuminae Files, #2)More of MeDare: The New Way to End Anxiety and Stop Panic Attacks Fast (+Bonus Audios)The Rain (The Rain, #1)

Ah I had such a spectacular reading month! I loved ALL of these! Illuminae and Gemina blew my mind (new favourites), More of Me and The Giver were incredibly thought-provoking, The Rain was SO good as well and I LOVEEEDDDDD the Heist Society! Also I highly, highly recommend Dare by Barry McDonagh if you have panic attacks and anxiety. It's really helping me! Despite having a panic attack yesterday, it wasn't as bad or as long as previous ones I've had. My general anxiety has been much better though! 

How was your October? What books did you read? Have you read any of these? What books are you planning on reading in November? ALSO, are you participating in NaNoWriMo?! LET'S TALK!
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Wednesday, 26 October 2016

THIS IS WHAT I WANTED - Alistair Grim's Aquaticum by Greg Funaro review

Alistair Grim's Odd Aquaticum (Odditorium, #2)Title: Alistair Grim's Odd Aquaticum
Series: Odditorium #2
Author: Gregory Funaro
Publication: 2016, Alma Books
Pages: 312 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you to Alma Books for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 4/5 CUPCAKES!
When Grubb, an orphan and runaway chimney sweep, entered the wondrous world of the Odditorium, his life changed forever. Apprenticed to the mechanical marvel’s strange proprietor, Alistair Grim, Grubb unfortunately must settle into his new position on the lam, as the whole of London is convinced that Alistair Grim is a villain bent on mass destruction. Grim, however, has come up with a plan to expose the real villain: Prince Nightshade, a wicked necromancer who wants the Odditorium’s power source for himself.
With the evil prince hot on their trail, Grim, Grubb and the rest of the Odditorium's crew embark on a perilous adventure to find the legendary sword Excalibur: the only weapon capable of penetrating Nightshade's magical suit of armor. As expected, their quest turns out to be anything but ordinary. Not only can the Odditorium fly, but it can also swim! And so the crew battens down the hatches and sets off on an underwater voyage to the otherworldly realm of Avalon, home to Excalibur. Along the way, they must battle a banshee assassin, sea monsters, and a witch who seeks revenge on Alistair Grim for stealing her magical objects.
But that’s not all. Unbeknownst to Grubb and the others, their fate has been written in an ancient Avalonian prophecy—a prophecy that holds the key to a destiny not even Alistair Grim could have possibly imagined.

After being quite disappointed by the first book in this series, I entered into Alistair Grim's Odd Aquaticum with trepidation, afraid that I would again encounter underdeveloped characters and a chaotic plot expectations were blown out of the water. I found myself caring deeply for the characters, being sucked viciously into the story and having a splendid time searching for King Arthur's sword, battling skeleton armies and discovering underwater kingdoms with the dynamic characters. Alistair Grim's Odd Aquaticum was extremely entertaining and wonderfully whimsical - Delve underwater with Grub and co in this stellar sequel, adventure awaits – I assure you of that!

In this instalment, our kind, brave Grub is still finding his footing around his enchanting home filled with mechanical wonders. Narrowly escaping Prince Nightshade – and becoming a wanted boy in the process - he and the rest of the Odditoria family are on edge as they try to destroy the malevolent dark forces as well as attempting to avoid imprisonment due to the misunderstanding that arose between Alistair Grim and law enforcement. Mr. Grim believes that if they can locate the legendary sword of Prince Arthur, they may be able to succeed in defeating the prince of darkness once and for all. However, to do they need to send the Odditorium underwater in order to locate the hidden Avalon and the hidden sword. With dangerous dates with demons, savage sea serpents and an unexpected visit from another banshee, there's no smooth sailing involved. 

A prominent difference between the book and its predecessor is the characters are more real, more detailed, more emotional than in the previous book. In order for me to connect to a book, I need to connect to the characters and that was something that caused a significant decrease in my enjoyment levels whilst reading the first book – they felt like mere names on a paper and not flesh and blood that breathes and lives – but I can safely say that the author improved the characters drastically in this novel. I found myself wanting to spend time with them whenever I put the book down, I found myself marvelling at Grub's bravery and smiling at his kindness. I found my heart squeezing in empathy whenever Alistair or Nigel revealed the agonizing pain that lived in them due to tragic events of their past. I found myself loving being in the company of Lord Dreary, Mrs. Pinch, Cleona, McClintock, Gwendolyn – among others. I was very aware of the enormous amounts of potential these characters contained and I was ecstatic to see that in this instalment, their vibrant, charismatic personalities emanated from the pages.

The plot in this book was so much better as well! In the first book, there were so many subplots and different themes and genres occurring that it was quite jarring reading it at times. However, the plot was stitched seamlessly together and I found myself devouring certain parts of the book because it was such an enthralling adventure I was embarking on. I absolutely LOVE books that take place underwater and I found it fascinating when they did so in order to discover underwater kingdom, mythological swords, and fairy realms. It was the perfect fantasy landscape that played out, immersing me completely. There were surprising twists that I didn't see coming, there were high stakes that kept me perched on the edge of my seat and there were moments that had my heart lurching due to the unexpected turn of events that occurred.

Alistair Grim's Odd Aquaticum was a sensational sequel that had my fingers feverishly turning the pages. With a fantastically fun adventure involving underwater kingdoms, fairy realms, banshees and samurai, your imagination will be set free. Rife with charismatic characters, authentic and heart-warming relationships, a vintage writing style and a captivating plot, Alistair Grim's Odd Aquaticum will ensnare you from page one.

I give it: 4/5 cupcakes!

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Tuesday, 25 October 2016

YA Shot 2016!

I attended YA Shot this weekend for the first time and I had so much fun! Thank you so much to Maximum Books for giving me the chance to win tickets as it was incredible meeting some of my favourite authors!

When I woke up on Saturday, I wasn't feeling too well so I didn't manage to attend the first few events (which is a pity as I would've loved to meet Sophia Bennett and Kathryn Evans!) but I left my house at around 12:00 and got to Uxbridge (where the event was held) at around 14:00. We parked at this one mall and the civic center was actually RIGHT THERE and I managed to get my parents and I completely lost (I'm not very good at directions, unfortunately) so I was slightly late for the first panel! 

I attended two panels: Stand by Me (friendship in YA) and Terms of Endearment (feminism and the portrayal of romance in YA) and I loved them both! The first panel featured Alexia Cassale, Maggie Harcourt, Jess Valance and Sara Barnard. I've only read Maggie's book (The Last Summer of Us which I loved - you can find my review here) and I loved learning more about Limpet, Steffan and Jared and their friendship, as well as why it's so important to have more friendships featured in YA. Afterward, I went to the signing room to get my copy of The Last Summer of Us signed and to meet Maggie Harcourt - she's so, so nice and funny and I absolutely loved meeting her! 

After having a lovely chat with Maggie, I rushed off to the next panel which was hosted by Holly Bourne, Holly Smale, Harriet Reuter Hapgood and Rachel McIntyre. They discussed feminism and the portrayal of romance in YA. I thought it was a brilliant talk and everything they had to say was so true and so eye-opening! Once that was done I rushed to the signing room and I tried to compose myself because the Geek Girl series and the Spinster Club trilogy are among my favourites so staying calm was an effort! They're both so nice and I want to be their best friend! Also, I've met 5 authors the past month but I have yet to master remaining calm and collected when meeting my favourite authors – I tend to babble and fangirl a lot. I'M SORRY.

After I had met Holly Bourne and Holly Smale, I went to the Waterstones pop-up shop and bought a book! One book – LOOK AT THAT SELF-CONTROL. It literally took me like 10 minutes to decide which book to buy but I eventually decided on Head Over Heels by Holly Smale, which is the latest Geek Girl book that I've been meaning to get! I also really wanted to buy Songs Abut a Girl by Chris Russell and The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood...but maybe another time!

It was then a 2-hour trip back home which consisted of me squealing to my parents about how much I adored meeting all the authors and how nice everyone was and OH MY GOSH MY NEW BOOKMARKS AND BADGES AND SIGNED BOOKS.

I had a lovely time and I'm so glad I got the opportunity to go! Thank you to everyone who was involved in organising such a fun event!

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Monday, 24 October 2016

What I've Been Reading #10 - Books like making me cry, it seems

HELLO EVERYONE! I'm on holiday for a week which means lots of blogging, reading and guitar. YAY! My last 3 reads have been amazing but ALL OF THEM have made me cry. But I'm okay. I think. 

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Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)Gemina (The Illuminae Files, #2)More of Me

I FINALLY READ ILLUMINAE. And I loved it! The first 200 pages I didn't have a clue what was going on and I was slightly bored and I was like NOOO I DON'T LOVE IT but then once I was 200 or so pages in I fell in love. I flew through the pages, I laughed, I cried and I fell completely in love with it. I was lucky enough to get sent an ARC of Gemina and I was pretty wary about reading it as WHAT IF I DIDN'T LOVE IT?! but boy, oh boy, did I love it?! The new characters (Nik is my new boyfriend) are amazing, the plot is so fast-paced and everything was just on point. 

I then started reading More of Me as I was hoping to meet the author on Saturday (I didn't, unfortunately, but I did meet a few other authors - I should have a post up on that soon!). I read this book in a day or so and it was SO GOOD. It was incredibly thought-provoking and quite chilling at times but oh so brilliant! I cried, though. A lot. 

The Rain (The Rain, #1)

I'm currently reading this! I'm only two chapters in and the writing is very light-hearted for such a dark situation but I really like that! It hasn't got the best reviews though but hopefully I end up loving it!

As I have so many library books out, I have a lot of books I can read next! I'll probably read Red Glove by Holly Black or The Darkest Part of the Forest!

Have you read any of these? Which book should I read next? Let me know your thoughts!
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Saturday, 22 October 2016

Stacking the Shelves #100 - Please take my library card away from me.

Once I've finished these library books no more until next year. DON'T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT. I mean it. Unless new releases come in. Or there's a book I really really really want to read or...okay, fine. JUST TAKE MY LIBRARY CARD AWAY FROM ME. PLEASE. But don't actually because it's my baby.

I was really good at the library this week! I only took out 3 books and two of them were reservations I made from like, 3 weeks back. So...go me. #selfcontrol

I also got some really awesome book mail that I'm SO EXCITED TO READ. I got Holly Bourne's latest book and you guys know how much I love reading her books! Also, I can't believe I'm meeting her today, I'm so excited and I'm probably going to fangirl too hard. OOPS.

I'm so excited to read these! I've been waiting forever for my reservation of Valiant to come in so I can marathon the Tithe trilogy. Then I've been meaning to read The 100 as I've heard SUCH GOOD THINGS and when I saw The Call I immediately took it out as I first saw it on booktube and I thought it sounded very interesting!

IKSHLKGJSD I got the new Holly Bourne book!!! Excuse me while I flail copiously. I love, love, LOVE her books - you should go read them. The books deal with tough topics in such a brilliant way, there's incredible female friendships, cute romances, and awesome writing. I LOVE IT. I also got #Famous which sounds SO CUTE and Instructions for a Second Hand Heart is going to make me sob. I JUST KNOW IT. 


So pretty. Excuse me while I go hole up in my room with my books because I have MUCH READING AHEAD OF ME!

What books did you acquire this week?
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Friday, 21 October 2016

Gemina by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman deserves all the stars

Gemina (The Illuminae Files, #2)Title: Gemina
Series: The Illuminae Files #2
Author: Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman
Publication: 18th October 2016, Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: 672 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you to Rock the Boat UK for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 5/5 CUPCAKES!
The saga that began with breakout bestseller Illuminae continues aboard Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of BeiTech’s assault. Hanna is the station commander's pampered daughter, Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.
When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station crew one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon, Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.
But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.
Told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless. 

I try to attain some level of professionalism in my reviews but I'M NOT ABLE TO WITH THIS FREAKING BOOK. I'm just going to fangirl and use GIFS and all caps because I HAVE TOO MANY EMOTIONS. 

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Okay, so. After reading Illuminae, I immediately picked up my arc of Gemina and I was nervous to read it. Because a) the authors have shown that they aren't afraid to rip my heart out and stomp on it and b) Illuminae was so freaking epic I was terrified that the sequel wouldn't live up to it BUT I NEED NOT HAVE FEARED and c) that I wouldn't form an attachment to the new characters. Boy, oh boy, was I wrong. Gemina was amazing, I dove straight into it and I was immersed from page one, I fell completely in love with the new characters and I did several happy dances when characters from the first book appeared. I have gone through the entire spectrum of emotions from horror to fear to disgust to fangirlyness (shh, it's a word) to amusement, to sadness...holy heck, that was one hell of a ride. Like, I didn't think anything could top Illuminae but I fell completely in love with this new stellar cast of characters, the plot, the unique format, the romance...this book was perfect and all I could've asked for.

Where do I even begin? The characters? ALL RIGHT THEN, if you insist.

I LOVED THE CHARACTERS SO MUCH, THEY ARE MY PRECIOUSES AND IF YOU DON'T LOVE THEM I WILL FIGHT YOU. They are so brave and snarky and complex and I just love them so much. I love how they have these exteriors that hide who they truly are – Hanna is viewed as a high-and-mighty, privileged princess by most people and Nik is viewed as a criminal, bad boy from a lethal family – and I loved how the authors stripped them bare to the bone and showed us who they truly are inside, making me love them all even more.

Can I have a Nik? Please?! CAN I? I want him for Christmas. He's so sweet and funny and he's so badass. He has these tattoos, he's Hanna's drug dealer and he comes from a crime family which makes him seem scary but he's actually a squishy marshmallow on the inside. I absolutely love how protective he is of his family and the sacrifices he would go through in order to protect those he loves. He's perfect and I LOVE HIM SO MUCH.
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Then there's Hanna Donnelly. Holy. Freaking. Heck. Everyone's got her down as this spoiled, rich princess but OH MY GOSH, although she's incredibly privileged, she's so much more than that. She's so clever. Like, thank you to the authors for incorporating female characters who are interested in science/maths/engineering – YA needs more of that! As an aspiring astrophysicist, I LOVE seeing female characters finding an interest in the STEM subjects/careers. Also: she's a smart blonde. #breakingthestereotypeyasss Hanna is also brave. Like that girl is not afraid to get her hands dirty and mess up Falk and his minions' shiz. She's sassy and snarky and courageous and she has guts. I think she may be my new favourite heroine.

I LOVED Ella too! She was Nik's fifteen-year-old cousin who is an incredible hacker with sass levels that know no bounds. She was hilariously snarky and I utterly adored her!

The other characters in this book were written so incredibly well, too. The villains?! The villains, guys. They were evil and terrifying and my heart is pounding now even just thinking about it. All the characters were brought to life and they all felt like living, breathing beings. Which is awesome when you encounter characters like Hannah, Nik and Ella but when it's people like Falk and his squad, well, you feel like you should be sleeping with one eye open.

ANOTHER thing I loved about this book was the family dynamics. It was so sweet seeing loving father/daughter relationships and I adored Nik and Ella's relationship. I cried several times because of these said relationships as my feels were stabbed multiple times. I LOVED IT.

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Now, the plot...holy schnitzels, it was incredible. My heart was racing several times, I felt physically sick most of the time (which is a good thing, right?) because THE TERROR and SICKENED DISGUST I felt due to the events that unfolded sent actual shivers up my spine and there were some moments where I just needed to take a breather. There were so many heart-stopping moments that left me breathless, not to mention the MIND BLOWING things that happened that left me screeching at the authors for putting me through this ordeal. I was in denial through most of the book and the ENDING?! KJZDLGKJLDSGH is all I can say. My mind was blown, yet again. Also: I LOVED the physics in this book. I'm a quantum physics nerd and the science-y things it contained made me love it even more.

The romance – geez. SOMEONE HOLD ME. The first conversation spoken between Hanna and Nik had me screeching “I SHIP IT” and I totally do. The chemistry between them is palpable and even when Hanna pretended she didn't have feelings for him I was like YOU LOVE HIM AND YOU KNOW IT. He's such a wonderful cinnamon roll, how can you not?! I loved how they protected each other and I love how they were strong on their own but when in close proximity of the other they were unstoppable. I found another OTP, guys, I found another OTP. I also loved the writing, I loved the humor, I loved the format – this book was incredible.

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Gemina is a stellar sci-fi sequel with a unique format, extraordinary characters, brutal villains and horrifying, yet fascinating, plot – with the deadly, breathtaking backdrop of outer space. Gemina left me breathless and wordless and craving more, an exhilarating, phenomenal sequel that deserves all the stars.

I give it: 5/5 cupcakes!

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