Friday 31 July 2015


If you read last Saturday's post then you'll know that this week I've been taking part in the TBR Takedown 2.0 readathon. I was originally going to post a mid-week update, but it kind of got to mid-week and I hadn't really read as much as I expected so...yeah that didn't happen. I thought it'd be a nice idea to wrap up the readathon separately from my monthly wrap up (that will be going up on Monday!) so that I can break it down and see how I did over the week.

In my readathon TBR I planned out five books to fit each of the five challenges for the readathon, I only ended up reading three of them but I still think that's pretty good! I do plan on reading the other two books I'll just be finishing them up in August. The readathon technically started on Saturday 25th, but I was still finishing up a different book then so the readathon actually started for me on the Sunday. I thought I'd do a breakdown of what I read on each day and my general experience of the readathon but I'll save my thoughts and ratings for the monthly wrap up. So here's how the week went in terms of the readathon:

Sunday 26th - pages read: 200, total pages read: 200
I started my first book which was The Secret Hour by Scott Westerfeld, this fit into the challenge 'the first book in a series'. I was pretty pleased that I managed to get 200 pages in seeing as I'd already read about 50 pages to finish off my previous read earlier that day. I think I already knew at this point that I wasn't going to get all the books read but I didn't mind.

Monday 27th - pages read: 162, total pages read: 362
I managed to finish off The Secret Hour pretty quickly and moved on to The Land of Stories: A Grimm Warning by Chris Colfer. This fulfilled the challenge of 'an unread sequel'. I was super excited to get back into this world and thought I'd get through it pretty quickly. However as always, I underestimated my exhaustion and my relative busy-ness for the next couple days.

Tuesday 28th - pages read: 126, total pages read: 488
I carried on with A Grimm Warning and managed to get a good chunk read, although I had hoped to be finishing it up I didn't really mind as I was reading at my own pace and enjoying the book. Although I did have to keep reminding myself to relax and that it didn't matter if I didn't get all five books read.

Wednesday 29th - pages read: 66, total pages read: 554
I didn't read very much this day, I was feeling quite unwell and resting in the day and then spent the whole evening with a friend and didn't read before bed like I usually do. This day actually felt like a nice rest from pushing myself to read and I was reminded of the importance of taking a break to socialise as it definitely lifted my mood.

Thursday 30th - pages read: 340, total pages read: 894
This was the day that I read the most and I honestly think it was because I'd taken a bit of a break the day before. I spent quite a lot of the day reading and found that I couldn't put down A Grimm Warning and finished it up in one sitting. I then had a bit of a break but was really in the mood for reading so picked up my third book Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay. This was my pick for the 'book that's been on your shelf for over a year/the longest challenge'. I kind of thought if I don't read it now I never will as I didn't have a huge desire to read it. It was a pretty easy read and I got through half of it before heading to bed.

Friday 31st - pages read: 123, total pages read: 1017
Today I finished off Darkly Dreaming Dexter fairly quickly because as I said it's an easy read and pretty fast-paced. I'll probably read some more tonight and if so I'll be picking up the fourth book Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover. But as it's unlikely that I'll finish it I won't be counting it as part of the readathon.

Total books read: 3
Total pages read: 1017

Overall I'm actually pretty pleased with how I did, I think I kind of knew that I wouldn't be completing all the challenges but I'm definitely happy with the amount I read. I did enjoy joining in with some of the sprints on Twitter and interacting with other readers and seeing how everyone else was doing. I think I'll definitely be taking part in more readathons in the future as I enjoy the challenge and think it's a really great way to get to books you might not have otherwise picked up.

Did you take part in the readathon? How did you do?

Monday 27 July 2015


If you've been following my Instagram account then you'll know that I've been posting every single day this month. Although there is the usual sprinkle of food and lifestyle pictures, I've mostly been posting bookish photos and have found myself becoming a part of the bookstagram community.

I've been aware of bookstagram for a while now, pretty much ever since I discovered booktube and started reading more book blogs. Most of the accounts I follow on Instagram are book accounts and I thought I'd share a few brilliant ones with you today. There are so many accounts that I love and I couldn't compile them all off the top of my head so I've listed below ten that sprang to mind as being particularly lovely.

I hope you go and check them out and discover some beautiful new feeds to follow :)

Don't forget to go and follow me on instagram @sarahschapter to keep up with what I'm doing and reading, I'll be posting every day this month and hopefully next month too!

Saturday 25 July 2015

TBR Takedown 2.0

The TBR Takedown 2.0 readathon is taking place from Saturday 25th July (today!) through to Friday 31st July and I've decided to take part! This readathon is hosted by Shannon from LeaningLights (you can see her announcement video here) but various people will be hosting sprints, challenges and giveaways over on Twitter so it's best to check out #TBRTakedown for updates.

I decided to participate to try and tackle my ridiculous TBR a bit (124 books right now *cringes*) and there are five TBR challenges for this readathon but it's a casual readathon and there's by no means any pressure to complete all the challenges or any at all. Since I have a bit of a crappy history with readathons (see my RYBSAT fail), I am going to be trying a bit harder this time to read as much as possible. So here are the five challenges and the books I've planned to read for each of them.

01. The first book in a series.
For this I'm going to be reading The Secret Hour by Scott Westerfeld. This is the first book in the Midnighters series; a series I knew nothing about until I found the trilogy in a charity shop and decided to pick them up because I've enjoyed Westerfeld's Uglies series. I'm not 100% sure what this is about but I know that it's YA paranormal and I chose it because it's been sitting on my shelf a while and it's relatively short at 276 pages.

02. An unread sequel.
I've chosen to read A Grimm Warning by Chris Colfer which is the third in The Land of Stories series. This is a middle grade fantasy series which plays on the concept of fairytale retellings. I read the first two pretty much as soon as they came out but I received this one for my birthday last year and haven't got around to picking it up yet and now the fourth book is out I figured I really should get to it. This one is a little longer but as it's middle grade I should get through it fairly quickly.

03. On your shelf for over a year/the longest.
I have no idea which book has been on my TBR shelf the longest, but the fact that I can't even remember buying Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay suggests that it's probably been there for at least a couple of years. I bought this because of the TV show Dexter which is one of my favourite shows ever and I wanted to see if the book it's based on is any good. I've never felt a strong desire to pick it up so it's kind of now or never and if I don't enjoy it then I'll probably be unhauling it.

04. Out of your comfort zone.
I had a bit of a hard time with this one as I'm a very varied reader and am usually open to anything but in the end I went for Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover. This is a new adult romance and has gotten a huge amount of hype in the blogging/booktubing world which in itself has kind of put me off. I'm not hugely into adult romances but Colleen Hoover gets such high praise that I've decided to give it a go.

05. A book from your most recent haul.
This book is so new that I haven't even hauled it on the blog yet. I went to Sainsbury's the other day with my boyfriend and couldn't help looking in the book section as always, and was surprised to see a lot of discounted books. I bought a few and one of them was Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham. This book has been in the back of mind ever since it came out and I was planning on picking it up at some point so why not now? I think after all that fiction I'll be in the mood for a bit of non-fiction and I love Lena Dunham so I'm really looking forward to it if I can make it that far into the readathon.

I'm super excited for this readathon and I'm so determined to get a lot read. I'll be posting a midweek update to let you know how I'm doing and you'll also find me tweeting (@sarahs_chapter on Twitter) and instagramming (@sarahschapter on instagram) my progress.

Are you planning to join in on the TBR Takedown readathon? Let me know!

Wednesday 22 July 2015


Top 5 Wednesday is hosted by GingerReadsLainey and you can see the complete list of Wednesday-ers here. This week's topic is 'Side Characters Who Deserve Their Own Series', but for some of these I think a whole series may be a bit of a stretch and I'd just be happy with a book from these characters' perspectives.

Now I actually think about this a lot, particularly when I'm reading a book or series with a large cast of characters. I sometimes become attached to certain characters and wish they were more developed and I've also always been interested in the idea of how the events of the narrative would be experienced and portrayed by a minor character, or just a normal person within that particular world. That is why I'm super excited for Patrick Ness' upcoming release The Rest of Us Just Live Here, which follows a character(s?) who isn't the hero or the chosen one or the one starting the revolution, they're just trying to get by in a world where someone else is causing all the drama.

Anyway, onto my picks for this weeks topic...

01. Literally anyone else from the Harry Potter-verse.
I know this is cheating a little as it's not a specific character. But I would give away all my other books and possessions and sell my soul to read another novel or series set in the Wizarding World. I know that we've got the Fantastic Beasts film and The Cursed Child play coming but I want more books damnit! The saddest thing is I know that we're not going to get them and my heart breaks a little every time I think about that. 

In particular I'd love to delve into the past and read about Dumbledore or the Marauders, but just as equally I'd love a book or series from the perspective of a Hogwarts teacher, a ministry employee or a random Hogwarts student whilst Harry's running round causing all sorts of drama. J.K. Rowling's world is so well thought out and finely drawn that the potential for more stories is endless. I think my best bet is probably fanfiction and I know there's a lot of great ones out there so if you have any suggestions please let me know? (comment or tweet at me)

02. The Darkling from The Grisha trilogy
I'm completely fascinated by villains, particularly ones whose villain-y intentions aren't completely black or white. So I'd be really interested in reading something from the Darkling's perspective. Plus he's pretty sexy so that wouldn't hurt.

03. Wilf from the Chaos Walking trilogy.
I love Wilf! He's my favourite character from the series and I just feel like he's got so much more to him than is shown in the novel. He doesn't get a lot of page time overall but from what we do see of him we know that everyone trusts him implicitly and there's a lot more to his intelligence and personality than meets the eye. I just think he's a really interesting character that could be developed further.

04. Jaqen H'ghar from the A Song of Ice and Fire series.
Again this is a character who doesn't get a large amount of page time (I've actually only read up to A Storm of Swords part one so he probably returns) and I think that's where the mystery lies. He's such an interesting character and his interactions with others (no spoilers!) are so well constructed and leave you wanting to know more about him. I'd love to know about his past and how he came to be where he is in terms of the narrative and again I just think his character has so much potential to be devloped into a series.

05. Isaac from The Fault in our Stars.
I was kind of struggling for a fifth option but I realised that I'd pretty much only included fantasy characters so I thought I'd throw in a little contemporary to mix it up. Isaac is one of my favourite contemporary side characters. He's really sweet, funny and insightful and I think his story is just as interesting as Hazel or Augustus' so I'd be really happy to read a book from his perspective.

So those are the top five characters I think deserve their own book or series. Please comment down below and let me know if you agree or if you've done a T5W post, I'm always looking for new blogs to read! 

Monday 20 July 2015


I'm sure by now you've seen the trailer for the upcoming Disney Pixar movie, Inside Out which comes out this week. I'm super excited to see it  because it looks like so much fun and I saw this tag going round YouTube and thought I'd join in. Each of the questions are based on the characters that are emotions inside a little girl's head, sounds a little strange but just go with me...

01. Joy: Which book brings you the most joy?
Can I say the entire Harry Potter series? It's so obvious but it's truly the most honest answer. Particularly The Philosopher's Stone, which is a book which instantly takes me back to my childhood and makes me feel comforted and happy. I also find something new in each re-reading so that always brings me joy.

02. Disgust: Which book grossed you out the most?
Definitely American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. It was actually physically difficult for me to read this book in some parts as I was so close to throwing up. It's brilliant and excellently written but it's completely disgusting and horrifying and I will never read it again - not for the faint hearted!

03. Fear: Which book scared you more than anything?
This is difficult because I haven't actually read a lot of horror/scary books, I know that the Goosebumps series used to terrify me when I was younger but hopefully I've grown out of that now! I read The Woman in Black at the beginning of the year and that freaked me out a lot, but the move was definitely scarier.

04. Sadness: Which book made you cry the hardest?
I'm not much of a crier when it comes to books, they do make me emotional but I rarely tear up (when it comes to movies it's a whole different story, but I won't get into that). Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows obviously had me in floods throughout and The Fault in our Stars is also an obvious one that had me sobbing but I can't think of any others!

05. Anger: Which book pissed you off?
Gone Girl. I don't even want to talk about it. It's just terrible and hateful and it makes me so unspeakably angry. grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

This tag was so fun as it's interesting to remember books that provoked such intense, visceral emotions. If you're reading this then I tag you to do this and remember to link your version in the comments below!

This tag was created by Kristina Horner, go check her out!

Saturday 18 July 2015

10 things that have made me happy this week: holiday edition!

I've just come back from a lovely, relaxing week in north Wales with my parents and boyfriend where a lot of sun was soaked up, amazing food was eaten, books were read and I for one was completely at peace. We came ready to brave the ridiculous unpredictable Welsh weather and only had to splash our way through two days of serious downpours before being treated to blissful sunshine for the rest of the week, so we felt very lucky indeed. I thought I'd share some of the highlights of the trip and round up the things that made me happy and grateful every day...

01. Dappled skies.

02. Unexpectedly hot and sunny beach days in beautiful, quiet, sandy coves.

03. No internet connection = a peaceful mind.

04. Rolling hills and endless landscapes.

05. Playing hilarious games in the caravan. Favourites include; Articulate, Rummy and Keep Talking.

06. The crazy sparkling blueness of the sea.

07. Hours of uninterrupted reading time in beautiful surroundings.

08. Exploring castles and pretending I'm in Game of Thrones (without all the murder and nudity obvs.)

09. The best BBQ ribs I've ever had, courtesy of The Ship Inn, Edern.

10. Simple British seaside pleasures like markets, ice cream and braving the beach in all weathers.

I hope you're all having a brilliant summer and enjoying the unprecedented British weather we've been enjoying lately! I really enjoyed North Wales and discovered some wonderful places so let me know if you'd like me to do another Weekender's Guide.

What has made you happy this week?

This post is inspired by the lovely Cider With Rosie, whose 10 things posts are some of my favourites.

Wednesday 15 July 2015

T5W: Anticipated Book Releases

Top 5 Wednesday is hosted by GingerReadsLainey and you can see the complete list of Wednesday-ers here. This week's topic is 'top 5 anticipated pre-orders for the rest of the year'. I haven't actually pre-ordered these as I'm hoping to get some of them for my birthday so I decided to just list the releases that I definitely want to get hold of when they come out. So here they are in order of release date...

01. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee - July 14th
Now this is kind of cheating as it's already been released by the time this post goes up but it was still one of my most anticipated releases of the year. This is the sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, one of the most important books of the last century. I read To Kill a Mockingbird at school and fell in love with it, just like everyone else. I'll be picking up Go Set a Watchman as soon as I can get to my local independent bookshop and re-reading TKAM because I haven't read it since I was 16.

02. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness - August 27th
"What if you aren’t the Chosen One?

The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again."

I love Patrick Ness, and since reading all of his YA books this summer he's become one of my auto-buy authors. I've always wanted to read a fantasy or dystopian book from the perspective of a normal person, rather than the one who's saving the world so The Rest of Us Just Live Here sounds right up my street. This is one that I might actually pre-order because Waterstones are currently offering signed copies with free delivery upon release. 

03. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo - September 29th
This is a standalone novel set in the world of Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy, it follows an unlikely band of thieves attempting to pull of a heist. Although I haven't yet finished the Grisha trilogy, I do plan to this year so I'll hopefully be getting this when it comes out.

04. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: The Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling, illustrated by Jim Kay - October 6th

This is the book release that I'm most looking forward to out of any on this list. Although I've obviously read the first in the Harry Potter series I can't wait to get my hands on this illustrated edition. Some sneak peeks have already been released and it looks incredible. This is kind of expensive so it's going to be on my birthday list but I'm just so sjdhufiosdughsioh EXCITED!

05. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell - October 8th 
Carry On is a spin-off of Rowell's earlier novel Fangirl, which is one of my favourite books of all time. This isn't a spoiler so don't worry, but in Fangirl the main character Kath writes fan-fiction about the Harry Potter esque series Simon Snow. Carry On is set in the world of Simon Snow and follows his final year at wizard school. I'm so ridiculously excited to get into this, but again will probably have to wait until my birthday in November.

So those are the books I'm most excited for this year!

Are you looking forward to any of these? Let me know in the comments!

Monday 13 July 2015

The 2015 Classics Challenge: Persuasion

Persuasion by Jane Austen
My rating: ☆☆

Twenty-seven-year old Anne Elliot is Austen's most adult heroine. Eight years before the story proper begins, she is happily betrothed to a naval officer, Frederick Wentworth, but she precipitously breaks off the engagement when persuaded by her friend Lady Russell that such a match is unworthy. The breakup produces in Anne a deep and long-lasting regret. When later Wentworth returns from sea a rich and successful captain, he finds Anne's family on the brink of financial ruin and his own sister a tenant in Kellynch Hall, the Elliot estate. All the tension of the novel revolves around one question: Will Anne and Wentworth be reunited in their love? [summary from Goodreads]

When I discovered this classic:
I think I'd always been vaguely aware of it as my mum is quite a big Jane Austen fan and we've always had her books in the house. However I never really knew what it was about and didn't have a huge desire to read it until not very long ago.

Why I chose to read it:
I went to see a performance of Persuasion as a play at my local theatre with my mum before Christmas, I didn't really have very high expectations for it, it was just something to do. I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed it! There were only four actors playing all the parts and this was done so well, I loved the story and it was actually very funny. I decided after this that I needed to read the book and I received this beautiful edition for Christmas.

What makes it a classic?
I think that when people think of classics, Jane Austen is probably one of the first authors that comes to mind. She wrote about __ society with such a wry wit and most importantly gave women a voice in her work in a way that other writers of that period did not. Her heroines are usually intelligent, witty, resilient women and Anne Elliot, the protagonist of Persuasion, is no exception. It is not only one of the greatest and most honest romances in literature but it is also a clever commentary on family, friendship and social politics.

What I thought of this classic:
When I decided to pick up Persuasion, I expected to appreciate it as a great novel but I also expected to perhaps find it a bit of a chore to read (I think that's what puts people off classics in general, I know I should know better!). I didn't expect to be completely immersed in the story and not be able to put it down. I found it totally absorbing and absolutely loved it. Anne Elliot is now one of my favourite literary protagonists for her intelligence, grace and maturity. She is kind, funny, incredibly perceptive and isn't afraid to make her opinions known. In one of my favourite quotes from the novel she says of representations of women in literature:
"Yes, yes, if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.” 
I really really enjoyed the romantic plotline, as it begins pre-page one there is a depth to it which provides a lot of feelings and tension which is handled excellently within the narrative.

Will it stay a classic?
I believe that this is one of Jane Austen's most important novels, it being her last completed novel before she died at the age of 41. It is considered to be her most mature and realistic love story and I strongly believe that it will remain a popular classic for as long as books exist.

Who I would recommend it to:
Obviously anyone who has read any Jane Austen previously, a lot of people have read Pride and Prejudice so I would recommend this to anyone who enjoyed that, you might find that you enjoy this more! I think I might actually prefer this, but only a re-read of Pride and Prejudice will decide that.
Also I'd recommend this to anyone who is a fan of romantic fiction and anyone who enjoys character-driven novels.

The 2015 Classics Challenge is hosted by Stacey of Pretty Books and you can find out more about it here.

Have you read Persuasion? What did you think?

Saturday 11 July 2015

June Book Haul

I was doing so well with buying less books up until the end of the month, and then charity shops happened and I just couldn't resist. Anyway, I'm not going to shame myself for buying books because most of the books I buy are from charity shops, so I'm just doing a good deed really, right?

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor - £1.99, Oxfam Books.
I actually have no idea what this book is about and the blurb doesn't really give too much away, but I've heard a lot of booktubers talk about this and I'm pretty sure it's the first book in YA fantasy series, which sounds good to me. I just couldn't resist this beautiful hardback for such a good price.

The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham - £2.49, Oxfam Books.
Ever since reading The Day of the Triffids, I've been really interested in reading more John Wyndham. So obviously I had to pick up this lovely edition of The Kraken Wakes, a sci-fi/post-apocalyptic novel where fireballs reign down from the sky into the ocean, followed by mysteriously sinking ships and 'sea tanks' coming to claim people. It basically sounds like it's along the same lines of The Day of the Triffids with less monstrous plants and more reasons to be terrified of the ocean - I can't wait!

Eragon, Eldest and Brisingr by Christopher Paolini - £1.49 Oxfam Books, £1.49 Oxfam Books and £1.00, Cancer Research UK.
I've always been interested in The Inheritance Cycle (because dragons - duh) and have had my eye out for them for a while and managed to pick up the entire series over the course of a couple of days for brilliant prices - winner! I think I'm really going to enjoy this one, it's pretty much a YA classic, so I can't wait to get into it.

Fangirl (the special collector's edition) by Rainbow Rowell - £9.81, The Book Depository
Now this was a purchase I had been uh-ming and ah-ing over for quite a long time, and after constantly seeing it on bookstagram and blogs and whilst feeling particularly crappy one night I decided to just go for it and made my order. I read Fangirl last summer and it was definitely one of my favourite books of the year, I already own a paperback copy but I'm so glad I invested in this beautiful special collector's edition which includes a specially designed hardcover, fanart and an exclusive preview of Rainbow Rowell's upcoming Fangirl spin-off novel: Carry On. It's just a lovely addition to my collection and I'm planning a re-read soon to fully appreciate it's awesomeness. See below for a sneak peek at the wonderful fanart on the inside covers:

So those were all the books I bought in June, I don't think I did too badly and overall I'm pretty pleased with the bargains I managed to get. Here's to a hopefully just as thrifty July...

Have you read any of these books? What have you been buying recently?

Wednesday 8 July 2015

Top 5 Wednesday: Things on your bookshelf that aren't books

I haven't done a Top 5 Wednesday in such a long time but I couldn't resist this topic, I can't wait to see what other people come up with for this! 

As always, Top 5 Wednesday is hosted by GingerReadsLainey and you can see the complete list of Wednesday-ers here. Today's topic is 'things on your bookshelf that aren't books', now my bookshelves aren't the neatest in the world, I only really have one main bookshelf so all the books are double parked and there are all sorts of bits and bobs perching on top of them. I like the idea of really neat, minimalist shelves but with the amount of stuff I have it was just never going to happen, I also think that becuase my shelves are so filled it adds interest and personality.

So for this post I decided to just pick out a few things that are quite special to me or things I just think are cool, so here they are in no particular order...

01. My Little Ponies and fairy dust
I have absolutely no idea where these little guys came from but they're unbelievably cute so they ended up on my shelf along with a couple of little bottles of 'fairy dust' which I also couldn't tell you the origin of. I just think this little area is quite sweet and magical.

02. My wand
I visited the Harry Potter studio tour for my 21st birthday and my boyfriend surprised me with a wand from the gift shop as my birthday present, it's probably one of my favourite presents ever. I chose Hermione's wand because I probably connect with her the most and it's just so beautiful, it's really intricately designed and looks as if delicate vines are wrapped around it. It sits in pride of place alongside my Harry Potter books and it's definitely one of my most prized possessions.

03. My photo snow globe
This is just one of the things that I think is pretty cool, I love snow globes and this one has a photo inside of when I went to Berlin with some of my best friends.

04. A parade of elephants
My sister lives and works in Malawi so I went to visit her in October last year, it was one of the best trips of my life so of course I had to bring back some souvenirs. These carved wooden animals are very common in Malawi and can be found at pretty much every market. I have quite a few different ones in different places around my room, including a hippo by my bed and a giraffe on my desk. They're all so amazingly well-crafted and I think they're just really beautiful. These elephants are sold in sets of twelve as an 'elephant calendar', I believe you're supposed to put another one out as the months pass. However I just liked the idea of having them set up, I gave six to each of my best friends and the remaining six are parading along my bookshelf. These mean a lot to me as they remind me of my sister each time I see them.

05. Jon Snow
This is another present from my brilliant boyfriend who knew I'd been wanting a funko pop figure for ages. Little Jon Snow sits next to my complete A Song of Ice and Fire collection. He is the sword in the darkness, the watcher on the bookshelf and he is the shield that guards the realms of books. I love him! 

So there's a little peek into some of the things that are dotted around my bookshelf, there's a whole lot more where that came from and at some point I might do a bookshelf tour if anyone would be interested in that. 

What things do you keep on your bookshelf that aren't books?

Monday 6 July 2015

Review: Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill

In a world in which baby girls are no longer born naturally, women are bred in schools, trained in the arts of pleasing men until they are ready for the outside world. At graduation, the most highly rated girls become “companions”, permitted to live with their husbands and breed sons until they are no longer useful.

For the girls left behind, the future – as a concubine or a teacher – is grim.

Best friends Freida and Isabel are sure they’ll be chosen as companions – they are among the most highly rated girls in their year.

But as the intensity of final year takes hold, Isabel does the unthinkable and starts to put on weight. ..
And then, into this sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride.

Freida must fight for her future – even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known. . . [summary from Goodreads]

My Rating: ☆☆

This is one of the most difficult reviews that I've written as I'm so unsure how I feel about this book. Firstly, as I said in my June wrap up, if you're triggered by anything to do with body image, eating disorders or similar then I really recommend that you don't read this book, just don't even think about picking it up. I'm not usually triggered by these kinds of things but even I found it had a strange effect on me and made me feel very uncomfortable and pretty upset. Now that that's out the way, I'm going to try and put my very confused thoughts about this book into words...

If you are looking for a happy book, this isn't it. I can definitely understand what O'Neill was trying to do with this book; portraying a future which doesn't really seem too far off in terms of how society treats women, I'm just not sure how well it worked. The reading experience here is obviously designed to be incredibly uncomfortable. The reader is supposed to dislike the characters and feel repulsed by them and the narrative, however I felt at times like it was all just a bit too much. It was like a standard YA 'issue' book amplified to an insane degree, and I understand this is close to the effect that O'Neill was going for but it just didn't quite work for me. O'Neill takes a bunch of issues that teenage girls are dealing with today (body image, eating disorders, drug abuse, bullying etc.) and magnifies them to such an extent that it is all the characters talk about. This is highly effective in making the reader feel uncomfortable and gets the point across to a certain extent but after a while I found myself thinking 'yes, I GET IT, these are serious problems and it's awful that this is all these characters know but just get on with the story already and what are you actually trying to achieve?'. 

I think my main issue here is that the book is driven by characters much more than plot and I feel that a story like this might have been told better with more of a balance between the two. Because basically every single character was despicable, the character-focus kind of ended up like one unending stream of pain, self-conciousness and bitching and the narrative spent a lot of time repeating the same nightmarish situations, which I know is the point but not much actually seemed to be happening and that just frustrated me. None of the cornerstones of YA were there; realisations, growing up and rebellion. Ok yes, the fact that these things were missing means that Only Ever Yours avoids being a typical YA book but my point is that these things are important in YA. Yes, it's important for young readers to be aware of how our society treats women and to give a signpost to a possible terrifying future but it's also important to give a message of resilience, strength and hope. I know that a book like this is supposed to be honest rather than enjoyable and I also know that a book doesn't have to be happy or hopeful to be great. I'm well aware of the importance of books like Lord of the Flies and 1984 but for me Only Ever Yours just didn't quite reach that level.

Although the plot did drag quite a bit, I generally found Only Ever Yours to be a compulsive read, it's difficult to tear yourself away from the horrific brutality of the pages and I read it in two quick sittings. It isn't your typical horror book, but it is definitely horrifying, I constantly felt like someone was ripping out my insides. Despite my issues with the book, O'Neill does write very well and that's what made me give it a higher rating. The emotions delivered by her writing were brutal, raw and gut-wrenching and the hellish situations were finely drawn, I just wish that the plot had developed a little better. Although I didn't particularly like this book, it wouldn't put me off reading others by her. 

Keep in mind that this is just my opinion; pretty much every blogger and booktuber who I have heard talk about this book seemed to absolutely rave about it, so it may be that I just didn't fully connect with it personally. Overall I don't regret reading it and it is definitely a book that will stick with me and gave me some interesting things to think about.

Have you read Only Ever Yours? What did you think?

Saturday 4 July 2015

July TBR

Hello again and happy July! We've had some pretty amazing weather this week in these parts so I've been spending some much-appreciated time reading in the garden, I hope it's just as nice where you are!

It's that time again where I share with you a few of the books that I plan on reading this month. I really want to tackle my ridiculous physical TBR (currently at 120 books!) so I haven't got any library books out this month. I also don't want to put too much pressure on myself and quite fancy a bit of freedom with my choices this month so I've only planned four books which is a couple less than usual. So without further ado, here are the books I hope to get to in July...

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
This is my classics pick for the month, after reading Persuasion last month and loving it I'm in the mood for some more Jane Austen. I know I've gone on about it before but I really love these editions, they're just so beautiful - I definitely want to collect them all.

A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
Every month I pick something from my TBR jar which mainly consists of books that I've had for a while but just haven't got to yet, and this happened to be what came out of the jar this month. I've been intrigued by this book for a while, ever since seeing the movie trailer, and I always like to read the book before watching the film. This book follows four very different people who happen to meet on a rooftop on new year's eve, all with the intention of committing suicide. I'm always interested in books that deal with mental health and I've enjoyed Hornby's work in the past so I look forward to getting into this.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
I've had this book for so long that I actually have no idea when and where I bought it! I know very little about the plot of this book only that it has a teenage protagonist and deals with gender issues. I'm also pretty sure that the narrative goes back into the past and follows the main character's family over a long period of time which is the main thing that's drawing me in. I love stories that trace families back through time and span decades, one of my favourite books is Behind the Scenes at the Museum which does this particularly well. I had mixed feelings about Eugenides' The Virgin Suicides but I can't deny that he's an excellent writer, so I'm really excited about this.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
I started re-reading the Harry Potter series earlier this year but for one reason or another took an extended break around May time. I picked up the fifth book at the end of June and am currently about half way through so expect to finish it soon. I'm really enjoying getting back into this series, it's like sinking into a warm bath or getting into bed after a long day, it just feels like coming home.

What are you planning on reading this month?

Wednesday 1 July 2015

June Reading Wrap Up

# of books read: 5
Genres: 1 Contemporary YA, 3 Dystopian YA, 1 British Classic.

After reading nine books in May, things slowed down a little last month and I only managed to finish five books. I'm always setting far too high standards for myself and I have to keep reminding myself that it's ok, that I shouldn't see reading fewer books as a failure and I should just go with the flow and enjoy reading at my own varied pace. Reminder: some people haven't read five books this year let alone this month, so reading anything at all should be seen as a success! I read almost all the books on my TBR for the month, except for the Raven Boys which I didn't manage to get to. As it's a library copy and it's due back soon I think I'll be returning it and picking it up another time.

Again last month I seemed to follow the pattern of reading more at the beginning and end of the month with a bit of a slump in the middle. I tend to read best and enjoy the reading experience more when I read in large chunks, dedicating whole afternoons or days to just sitting and reading - dipping in and out doesn't work so well for me. So it was the sunnier days in June when I was feeling relatively okay that I sat outside and got the most reading done, I predict that it will continue this way for the rest of the summer. So here's what I read in the month of June...

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins | ☆☆
I read the first in this series Anna and the French Kiss last month and really enjoyed it. The sequel follows a new set of characters but a couple of characters from the first book make appearances. I really enjoyed how Perkins linked up the two books in this way and I can't wait to see how she ties it all together in the third book. This book follows Lola, a girl from San Francisco who expresses herself through costume and how she deals with a past flame coming back into her life. I think this contemporary YA series is so much fun, the books are so quick and easy to read and they just provide light relief and lovely romance-y feels. I'm not sure I liked this one as much as Anna but I still really enjoyed it and am looking forward to the next in the series.

Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill | ☆☆
It's pretty difficult to describe what this book is about and even more difficult to pin down how I feel about it. It's essentially set in a dystopian future where women are literally designed in labs to be 'perfect' and grow up in a school (I use this term loosely) where they are taught to be 'perfect' and trained to become teachers, concubines (basically sex slaves) or companions (kind of like wives without any of the love or happiness). As you can tell from my shaky description there, it's very dark. Brutally dark. I can see what O'Neill was trying to do here but I do have a lot of issues with it, so many that I think I'm going to do a separate review/discussion post on this book sometime soon. You should probably just read it and see for yourself what you think about it.
Disclaimer: Do not, I repeat DO NOT, read this if you are triggered by anything to do with body image or eating disorders. I wouldn't usually be triggered by this kind of thing but even I found it pretty upsetting and uncomfortable to read. You have been warned.

Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness | ☆☆☆.5
This is the final book in the Chaos Walking trilogy so I can't really explain what it's about because of spoilers. The conclusion to the series didn't disappoint, it was a wild ride which, although it dragged a little in parts, had me gripped for the most part. I was reading this whilst my boyfriend was sat in the same room gaming and he became concerned when I kept gasping and yelling 'OH MY GOD' and 'I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT JUST HAPPENED!'. This is now one of my favourite series and if you haven't picked it up yet then you definitely should. 

Persuasion by Jane Austen | ☆☆
This was my pick for the 2015 Classics Challenge and I'll be writing a separate post about it soon so won't go on about it too much here. I wasn't expecting to enjoy this as much as I did. I expected to appreciate it but I definitely didn't anticipate the level of enjoyment I got from this and how compelling I found the narrative. I actually found that I couldn't put it down and that came as such a pleasant surprise. It was my favourite book of the month and now I really want to read some more Jane Austen.

More Than This by Patrick Ness | ☆.5
This was my TBR jar pick for the month and I went into it knowing very little about the plot but knowing that I'd like it regardless because come on, it's Patrick Ness. I definitely wasn't disappointed. It probably is best to go in blind with this one but I'll just say that it's the story of Seth, who in the very first chapter dies, only to awake naked and bruised in a strange deserted place. This was so unlike anything I've ever read and I really enjoyed it. After finishing it, I'm still not entirely sure what happened but I know that it was ridiculously compelling. I really enjoyed the original concept and the mysterious plot. Ness' writing is so beautiful and atmospheric, this book is really one to lose yourself into.

So that was everything I read this month, I'm keeping my options open for this month and I'll be posting a short TBR on Saturday so stay tuned for that.

Have you read any of these books? What was your favourite read this month?

If you've posted a reading wrap up please link it below, I'm always looking for new blogs to read!

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