Sunday, 11 December 2016

UNDER £10 NON-BOOKISH GIFT GUIDE

I'm not trying to make you panic, but today marks two weeks until Christmas. I know, yikes.

Whilst I've nearly finished my Christmas shopping there are still some last minute presents to get and some awkward people to buy for! Let's not even mention starting my wrapping...

If you're in the same boat as me, or you haven't started buying yet, never fear - this gift guide is for you! I've picked out some gifts that will suit your mum, your sister, your boyfriend and your bestie, all for under £10! So let's get started...



Candles
Candles are a pretty safe gift for most people - who doesn't love a candle? Tangy Melon are an online shop with a HUGE variety of candles. Each candle has a quote or phrase, they have a great Christmas collection, and I chose the Scorpio candle* as a present to me, myself and I, but you could personalise this to anyone's starsign or choose a family and friends message. They're beautifully scented and all of Tangy Melon's candles are made with 100% natural wax and oils. They also have a crazy long burn time, I've been burning this sucker all week and it's hardly gone down at all. The scent throw is huge, it fills my whole flat, and they honestly smell like luxury candles, but for less than a tenner, so awesome.

You can also get some bargainous candles from B&M, they have some gorgeous Bath and Body Works dupes and the big jars are only £2.99 - incredible! I've picked up so many of these, and not just for myself haha.





Stickers
These gorgeous stickers from Dorkface would make such a great stocking filler or secret santa gift. This is the Cute girly sticker pack but Jemma makes a whole range of stickers from only £2.50! 

They're perfect for sticking on your phone case, laptop or for decorating your planner or journal. I use them in my bullet journal all the time. I also think it's nice to buy from independent sellers at Christmas because you're essentially getting a present for two people, I know that no matter how successful she is, Jemma is always so grateful for a sale!


Games
I don't know about you but my family has a tradition of always playing games around Christmastime. There's nothing better than curling up in front of the fire with some Quality Street, family and friends and a fun game to play. I bought these games from Waterstones and they have a huge selection, with so many under £10, including these.

Articulate is probably my favourite game of all time and I believe that everyone should own it. You basically have about a minute to read the word on the card and describe it to your team without mentioning the word. There are different categories and it always produces hilarious results. The mini version is perfect for people who travel a lot or who don't have a lot of storage space.

I bought this QI game because my family love a good quiz and this is the perfect way to get started. Cluedo is a favourite of one of my family members and I know they'll love this travel version so they can take it wherever they go.

I always get super competitive and I just have to win so if the person you're buying for is anything like me then they'll be playing these games all year round too.




Prints
This is a slightly more tricky one because prints can be quite a personal thing and everyone has different tastes. But if you're buying for a family member or friend who you know has similar taste to you then you should have no problem.

Over the past few months I've been building up a gallery wall in my office and I've collected some really lovely prints, each for under £10. The best places to find prints at this price are Etsy, Zazzle and believe it or not, card shops. Places like the Card Factory and Clinton Cards often have some beautiful framed prints and signs, sometimes for less than a fiver.


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So those are my recommendations for gifts under £10! I hope you found this helpful and happy shopping!

INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

Disclaimer: Items marked with a * have been kindly gifted to me by the company, this in no way affects the contents of my review as I only choose to work with companies I genuinely love.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

GIFT GUIDE FOR BOOK LOVERS + GIVEAWAY


This time of year we're swamped with gift guides wherever we look so I thought I'd give you one with a bit of a difference - all these gifts are perfect for book lovers!

Whether you're buying for a bookish loved one, planning on 'accidentally' emailing this to your mum or you just want to treat yourself this season, I've got you covered. I've scoured the internet and tracked down the best independent e-tailers for all things bookish, at some of the best prices. Plus, stay tuned until the end to enter a bookish giveaway!




Bookish subscription boxes have been all the rage this year, but most of them are US-based and those shipping fees for us UK folk aren't too pretty - enter Illumicrate! Illumicrate is a UK-based quarterly YA book subscription box - phew, that was a little wordy. Basically, you sign up and every quarter you'll receive a brand new YA release along with a whole host of bookish goodies, all wrapped up in a very instagrammable box.

Book subscription boxes make a great gift because they're often a little too pricey to justify buying for yourself and they're also the gift that keeps on giving, literally. 

Pictured above is the November Illumicrate box which contained Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid along with a bunch of cute items like a notebook, candle, coffee cosy, socks and a load of bookish swag.

Plus, readers of Sarah's Chapter can get 10% off Illumicrate with the code 'SARAHSCHAPTER'. Check out Illumicrate here.




Bookish prints always make a great gift for book lovers, especially if they fit on a bookshelf. This framed book page from Bookishly is the perfect gift.

Bookishly has a number of different typographical products, including bookmarks, notebooks and gift cards and a huge range of prints. The framed book pages are my favourite because they're so unique; literary quotes in a font based on hand-lettering, printed onto vintage book pages and mounted on handmade block frames. This is such a beautifully crafted item; there's no glass so you can feel the beautiful old page and because it's an original book page each one is truly unique.

Bookishly has over 100 different framed book pages to choose from, meaning no matter who you're buying for, you're likely to find a quote to suit them!

I chose this quote from Pride and Prejudice* because it's my mum's favourite book and I just know she'll love it. The prints come wrapped in a vintage map which means they're all ready for gifting!





A trend that's come back with full force this year is pins and badges. There are so many out there but Literary Emporium has the best range of bookish enamel pins* for only £7.50! I'm obsessed with the 'Readers Gonna Read' and 'I Like Big Books' pins. I've got them pinned to my winter coat; they're so sassy and I've had a crazy amount of compliments about them. They're great quality, made from durable enamel and are super shiny.

The thing with bookish products is that it's actually quite hard to find things that are both bookish and pretty. If you do manage to find something bookish it's more often than not kind of plain. Literary Emporium has everything from notebooks to jewellery and it's all gorgeous. The designs are beautiful, they come in lovely packaging and everything's super reasonably priced.

These pins would make a great stocking stuffer or secret santa gift!



Speaking of gorgeous, Anna of EnchantedBottleCraft on Etsy sells the most beautiful handmade bookish jewellery. Her Enchanted Bottle necklaces are so unique and from as little as £7.99, they make a wonderful gift.

The necklaces are all themed and inspired by a range of books and films, from Harry Potter to A Song of Ice and Fire. Pictured above is the Lumos Bottle Necklace* which, obviously inspired by Harry Potter, is a beautiful bottle filled with pale crystals which glow in the dark! I love the idea of carrying a spell around with me, and lumos has always been my favourite as it reminds me of light in dark times.

Not a fan of necklaces? You can choose to have your design as a bookmark, earrings or a keyring! Again, these would make a perfect stocking stuffer or secret santa gift. Check out the full range of Enchanted Bottles here.





Next up is The Little Bookish Gift Co. which sells a mixture of handmade items and carefully selected bookish gifts. Here you can find journals, greetings cards, coasters and stationery, but I've chosen two of my favourite products to recommend to you today.

My favourite items from The Little Bookish Gift Co. are their handmade wooden door signs. Pictured above is their 'Quiet Please...I'm Reading!' door sign*, but they have a range of different designs perfect for the reader (or writer) in your life. These signs are handmade using wood, biodegradable twine and old book pages. Each sign is unique and I was pleased to find that mine was made with a page from Pride and Prejudice! 

This is the perfect gift for someone who needs a little peace and quiet this winter. They also come beautifully wrapped which is a lovely bonus.



Another perfect stocking stuffer is The Little Bookish Gift Co's 'Novel Tea'*, a pouch of five teabags tagged with literary quotes. The only thing better than a good book is a good cup of tea to go with it and these teabags are such a fun idea. Each one is tagged with a different literary quote and the tea is a delicious English Breakfast blend - the perfect kind of tea if you ask me! At just £2.50 these are the perfect extra little gift.

Check out The Little Bookish Gift Co.'s other items here.




Last, but certainly not least, the perfect gift for book bloggers, book club members or just book enthusiasts: the Busy B Book Journal*. Busy B have a whole range of beautiful stationery but this journal is the perfect thing for organised book lovers.

The Busy B Book Journal is divided into four individual sections; Book Club, Read, To Read and On Loan - to keep track of all your bookish needs. It's kind of a like a portable Goodreads and it's oh so pretty.

My favourite part is the 'Read' section, where you can make a note of all the books you've read, including your thoughts on the book. As a book blogger this is so handy for me as I'll be able to refer to it when it comes to my monthly reading wrap ups and it'll save me so much time. I also love that it includes an 'On Loan' section to keep track of all the books you've lent out - a book will never be lost again!

It also comes with cute page markers and name stickers for your books - things which I find super handy - all tucked into a storage pocket at the front. I'm absolutely in love with this journal and it's definitely going to stay by my side throughout 2017. Check out the book journal here.

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I hope you've found this bookish gift guide useful, whether you're buying gifts for yourself or others.

And that's not all! To celebrate the holiday season I'm going to be giving away a bookish bundle filled with goodies from the above shops!



The bundle will include a bookmark and greetings cards from Bookishly, two enamel pins from Literary Emporium, a Bottle Necklace from EnchantedBottleCraft and a door sign and Novel Tea from The Little Bookish Gift Co!

To win, simply enter the rafflecopter below. RULES: UK entries only, ends 17/12/2016.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

Disclaimer: Items marked with a * have been gifted to me by the company, this in no way affects the contents of my review as I only choose to work with companies I genuinely love.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

#THEGIRLGANG BOOK CLUB UPDATE + GIVEAWAY



Just a quick post today with an update about The Girl Gang book club!

If you didn't already know, back in March I started The Girl Gang book club, which is a branch of Jemma's awesome blogging community The Girl Gang! It's a twitter-based book club, so each month there's a different theme or genre (be it YA, classics, thrillers etc.) and members vote for the book they want to read. Everyone then reads that book and discusses their thoughts and feelings using #GGbookclub and at the end of the month (or a month after the book is chosen) we have a big twitter chat, hosted by me, where everyone can compare their thoughts and ideas about the book! It's perfect for those like me who don't have a local book club and love chatting about books as an online community!

The book club pick for December is going to be Christmas themed, perfect for those cosy winter nights in. There are four books to choose between and you have just two days to vote in the twitter poll to choose the next book! The four books are:

- Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle
- Christmas at the Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan
- My True Love Gave to Me, edited by Stephanie Perkins
- The Gift by Cecelia Ahern.

So pick the book you want to read and go and vote in the poll!

So to celebrate nine awesome months of the Girl Gang book club, I'm hosting a giveaway! One lucky person is going to win the chosen book club pick for December! All you have to do to enter is head over to the #GGbookclub twitter, follow, and retweet the pinned tweet (the poll). Simples!

Rules: one entry per person, only direct retweets will be counted (no quote retweets), no spam or bot accounts. Must be following @theggbookclub on Twitter. The giveaway is open internationally as long as The Book Depository ships to your country. Giveaway ends 24/11/16 at 23:59 GMT.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

SEPTEMBER + OCTOBER MINI BOOK REVIEWS


Total number of books read: 7
Total number of pages read: 2351
Genres: 2 memoir, 1 adult post-apocalyptic, 3 YA Fantasy, 1 MG Fantasy
Nationalities of authors: 1 UK, 1 Australian, 1 French, 1 Korean, 1 Canadian, 2 USA

Let's pretend we're not already half way through November and that I'm not SUPER late with these reading wrap ups! After quite an impressive reading month in August, I've been reading at a slow and steady pace for the past couple of months and I'm totally okay with that because I've read some pretty great books. So let's start with my reviews for September...

Ctrl Alt Delete by Emma Gannon | ☆☆☆☆
You've probably seen this memoir floating around the blogosphere and that's because Emma Gannon is not only one of our own but she's an incredible writer. Ctrl Alt Delete is a hilarious and thought-provoking account of growing up alongside the internet. What I loved about this book is that Emma is around my age so we probably started using the internet around the same time and some of our experiences are near identical. I spent a large portion of the book laughing, cringeing and nodding along with Emma's tales of msn-messenger flirting and catfishing before Catfish. I even think you'd enjoy it if you're a bit younger and want to find out what internet-life was like before Twitter, Instagram and the app store (yep, those were dark days). Along with laughs galore, Emma offers a great insight into turning your side-hustle into a business and relationships in the online era. You should also check out Emma's equally awesome podcast of the same name for inspiring conversations with some pretty incredible women.

The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J Walker | ☆☆☆☆.5
I picked this up after doing the Try A Chapter tag and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it, I would even go so far as to say that I loved it. The End of the World running club is an adult post-apocalyptic novel which follows less-than-perfect husband and father Edgar who is fed up with life and fed up with himself. After much of the UK is pretty much decimated by asteroids and Edgar is separated from his family, he is left with no other option than to run the 550 miles to get back to them. I think the main thing that I loved about this book was that it was just so real. The post-apocalyptic setting was so well-done, every single character was well-drawn and realistic and the emotions were raw and authentic. The End of the World Running Club is a wonderful examination of what it means to be human in post-society. After finishing it I immediately pressed it upon my boyfriend so I could have someone to talk about it with, and he loved it too!

The Graces by Laure Eve | ☆☆.5
I was kindly sent this copy for review by Faber. The Graces follows 'River' (her chosen name, we never find out her given name) who has recently moved to a new town and is fascinated by the Grace family, who are mysterious, beautiful and, according to rumour, witches. I was so so excited for this book but was unfortunately left feeling disappointed. It was packed to the brim with cliches, which I might have been able to get past if it hadn't been for the inclusion of the frankly quite damaging trope of putting down other women to make the main character feel better.
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It just had me eye-rolling so hard. I also found the plot very predictable and I saw the supposedly shocking twists coming. However I liked the writing style for the most part and enjoyed the setting and some of the characters. If you like paranormal or witchy vibes I would definitely say give it a go because pretty much everyone else I've spoken to has loved it! But unfortunately I don't think I'll be continuing on with this series.

That's it for September, so let's have a look at what I read in October...



Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake | ☆☆☆☆
This is a recent release that I picked up on a whim (not gonna lie, it was mostly a cover buy) and was pleasantly surprised by. Three Dark Crowns is about triplets who were each born with a different gift and separated at birth, destined to kill each other because only one can become queen. The cool thing about this release is that there are three different cover designs to represent the three different types of magic; poisoner, elemental and naturalist. I have the naturalist edition which has a red spine and a crown entwined with red roses - I also have my eye on the green 'poisoner' edition though! Three Dark Crowns is very character driven, rather than plot driven, and although some might find this a little slow, I really enjoy character driven novels, especially in series, as it gives the reader a chance to really get to know each of the characters. The great thing about this novel is that none of the sisters is put forward as the 'villain', they are all likeable and I found myself not rooting for any one in particular. I enjoyed the multiple perspectives and found them very easy to follow. I felt that the plot built to a good climax and a great ending and I'm looking forward to continuing on with the series.

Bloom: navigating life and style by Estée Lalonde | ☆☆☆☆
Another memoir from another queen of the internet, Estée Lalonde. I've been watching Estée's YouTube videos for nearly five years now so I was really excited when I heard that she was writing a book. I think she has such a great sense of style and her personality always shines through in her videos so I was looking forward to find out if her book would do the same, and I wasn't disappointed. I was kindly sent a copy for review by Ebury but that in no way affects the contents of this review. Bloom is split into eight sections in which Estée gives her perspective and shares her experiences of each subject; life, people, work, beauty, fashion, home, travel and food. This structure makes the book perfect for dipping in and out of and I really enjoyed cosying up on the sofa and reading a section at a time. Once again, Estée's warm personality and unique voice is evident in her writing; I found her reflection on the difficulties of moving to a different country particularly moving. Bloom is just a downright beautiful book, the pages are thick and almost glossy and it's filled with incredible photographs which really add to the overall content of the book. It's definitely one of the better memoirs I've read and I think it'd make a lovely gift.

The Nightmare Before Christmas by Tim Burton | ☆☆☆
I was kindly sent a lovely illustrated copy of Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas just in time for Halloween by Puffin. This is a gorgeous edition, especially released for the twentieth anniversary of the book, and it's filled with illustrations by Burton. The story is a little different to the film, and doesn't quite live up to the beautiful illustrations, but is enjoyable nonetheless. I think this would make a great gift for children, or anyone who's a fan of the film.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo | ☆☆☆☆☆
I know right? I must be the last person in the world to have read this. But last month I got tickets to see Leigh Bardugo and Rainbow Rowell on their Worlds Collide tour in Manchester and I thought I'd better get round to reading Six of Crows in case of spoilers! However, I failed in my task and only read about 100 pages before the event. But after meeting Leigh, getting my book signed and being surrounded by lovers of the series I knew I had to finish it. So I stayed up until 3am, and boy was it worth it. This is one of the best books I've ever read. The characters, the setting, the plot were all truly excellent. Leigh's writing is wonderful and this world she's created is just incredible. I'm really struggling to express my feelings so I might have to do an in-depth discussion of both Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom - because you totally know that I read Crooked Kingdom immediately afterwards, stay tuned for that review.

Phew! So those are my September and October mini book reviews! I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts on these books and I'm really really going to try and get my November reviews up a little earlier next month! I now have a laptop and softboxes, so hopefully all the blogposts and Instagrams will be coming your way!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

Thursday, 13 October 2016

TRY A CHAPTER TAG


The Try a Chapter tag was created by Malia of Book Paradise and I was tagged by the completely wonderful Bee over at Vivatramp, who you must go and follow immediately if you're not already. The idea is to pick a selection of books and read the first chapter of each, give your thoughts on the first chapter and choose one of the selection to continue on with. I love this premise because it means you can get a taste of books you've been meaning to get to for a while, without too much commitment.

I picked five books to try a chapter of, but you can choose as many or as little as you like. Cogheart and The Wolf Wilder are two middle-grade books I've heard so much about and definitely want to get to at some point this winter. Cherry and The Otherlife are both recent YA releases that I was sent by the publishers and haven't got around to reviewing yet, whereas The End of the World Running Club is an adult book which I'd heard loads of good things about but wasn't sure if it was for me. A couple of the books had really short prologues, so when I say 'first chapter' I'm talking about the first chapter that was more than just a couple of pages. So stay tuned to find out my thoughts...





Cogheart by Peter Bunzl
Lily's life is in mortal peril. Her father is missing and now silver-eyed men stalk her through the shadows. What could they want from her? With her friends - Robert, the clockmaker's son, and Malkin, her mechanical fox - Lily is plunged into a murky and menacing world. Too soon Lily realizes that those she holds dear may be the very ones to break her heart... [Goodreads]

The Victorian/steampunk-esque time period had me intrigued straight away and the initial setting of a girl's boarding school reminded me of A Little Princess, which I loved. The writing was really fresh and the first chapter delivered quite a lot in terms of plot and character development and I felt attached to the main character, Lily, almost immediately. I don't read enough middle-grade books and this made me want to jump right in, but I've got four other first chapters to try...

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell
Feodora and her mother live in the snowbound woods of Russia, in a house full of food and fireplaces. Ten minutes away, in a ruined chapel, lives a pack of wolves. Feodora's mother is a wolf wilder, and Feo is a wolf wilder in training. A wolf wilder is the opposite of an animal tamer: it is a person who teaches tamed animals to fend for themselves, and to fight and to run, and to be wary of humans. When the murderous hostility of the Russian Army threatens her very existence, Feo is left with no option but to go on the run. What follows is a story of revolution and adventure, about standing up for the things you love and fighting back. And, of course, wolves. [Goodreads]

The Wolf Wilder hooked me in immediately, the first sentence was atmospheric and reminiscent of fairy tales:
"Once upon a time, a hundred years ago, there was a dark and stormy girl."
The main character Feo was well established and I found the idea of being a wolf wilder really intriguing. Middle-grade novels tend to get right into the plot which I actually really enjoy and this book definitely did that whilst also building the world and the characters quite well. The snowy setting is just my kind of thing and I can definitely picture reading this in the upcoming colder seasons.


Cherry by Lindsey Rosin
To be honest, the sex pact wasn’t always part of the plan. Layla started it. She announced it super casually to the rest of the girls between bites of frozen yogurt, as if it was just simply another addition to her massive, ever-evolving To Do List. She is determined to have sex for the first time before the end of high school. Initially, the rest of the crew is scandalized, but, once they all admit to wanting to lose their v-cards too, they embark on a quest to do the deed together... separately. [Goodreads]

This was such a change from the previous two middle-grade books in terms of characters, tone and language that it initially felt quite jarring. I kept finding myself cringing and rolling my eyes, which isn't a particularly good sign, but it might just take some time to get into the tone of the novel. I found the characters quite intriguing and am interested in getting to know them a little more. I'm always wary when YA books approach the topic of sex, in case they handle it badly, but I'm actually quite excited to read a book that is heavily focused on sex as from the first chapter it actually seems quite sex positive. I'm definitely going to carry on with this one but I'll just need to be in the right mood for it.

The Otherlife by Julia Gray
When troubled, quiet Ben begins at the ruthlessly competitive Cottesmore House, school to the richest, most privileged boys, he is befriended by Hobie: the wealthy class bully, product of monstrous indulgence and intense parental ambition. Hobie is drawn to Ben because he can see the Otherlife: a violent, mythic place where gods and monsters roam. Ben has unnerving visions of Thor and Odin, and of the giant beasts that will destroy them, as well as Loki, god of mischief. Hobie is desperate to be a part of it. Years later, Ben discovers his beloved tutor Jason is dead. And he can’t help wondering if Hobie – wild, restless, dangerous Hobie, had something to do with it…

I don't know much about Old Norse myths but that premise has me totally intrigued and it seems like it's going to have a slightly darker edge, which I really like. Not too much was given away in this opening chapter, and I didn't find out enough about the main character to have much connection to him but the introduction of an element of mystery was really intriguing. I think this is going to need my full attention as I get the vibe that it's built on some complex back story so I'm going to pick it up when I have the time to dedicate myself to it properly and read it in a couple of sittings.


The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J Walker
When the world ends and you find yourself stranded on the wrong side of the country, every second counts. No one knows this more than Edgar Hill. 550 miles away from his family, he must push himself to the very limit to get back to them, or risk losing them forever... His best option is to run. But what if your best isn’t good enough? [Goodreads]

Holy bloody moly, this was one hell of a first chapter. I was immediately hooked, the writing was excellent and the plot got off to an explosive start. I am a bit of a sucker for post-apocalyptic novels so I figured I'd probably enjoy this but I had no idea that the first chapter would be so gripping. I was quite literally gripping the book, my heart racing and I actually got out of the bath after I read the first chapter to tell my boyfriend how good it was. I simultaneously disliked and felt connected to the main character, which is a sign of pretty good writing. I really liked that it was set in Scotland as I feel like I don't read a lot of Scottish-based settings. It mused on the small things that would definitely be part of your thought process if an apocalyptic event was happening and it just felt really real. I immediately knew that this was the book I was going to continue with, and I did and have now pushed it on to my boyfriend to read so we can talk about it, review coming soon!

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Overall I really enjoyed doing this tag and think it will probably be something I'll do again in the future when I can't decide what to read. I'm really excited about reading all the books that I picked up and will definitely be getting to them soon.

If you're reading this then I tag you to do this and send me a link once you've done it! I think it's such a great way to try out a few different books, perhaps it'd be an idea to try ones you've had on your shelf the longest to see if you still want to read them?

I specifically tag:
Almost Amazing Grace
Emma's Bookery
Ali Caitrin

Monday, 10 October 2016

AUGUST MINI BOOK REVIEWS


Total number of books read: 8
Total number of pages read: 2812
Genres: 1 YA Horror, 4 YA Contemporary, 2 Adult Contemporary, 1 Adult Fantasy.
Nationality of author: 2 USA, 5 UK, 1 Ireland.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern | ☆☆☆☆☆
This was the #GGbookclub pick for August and it was my second time reading it. The Night Circus is adult fantasy/magical realsim and I genuinely believe you should go into it not knowing anything. You'll probably be a little confused for most of it but you'll most likely become enchanted with the atmosphere and the magic of the book and you'll enjoy it, maybe you'll enjoy it quite a bit. But don't stop there, wait a while, read a few other books, then go back in for a second reading. It is on this second reading that you'll fall in love. The time line of the book is non-linear, so the second time around it makes much more sense and you'll find little intricacies that you didn't notice the first time. It's so beautifully written, with intoxicating descriptions and wonderful characters - it's become one of my favourite books, and I can't wait to read it a third time.

Nothing Tastes as Good by Claire Hennessy | ☆☆☆.75
This was a July release from Hot Key Books who kindly sent me a copy for review along with With Malice and The Yellow Room. Nothing Tastes as Good is kind of a like a more grown-up version of Jacqueline Wilson's Vicky Angel. It follows Annabel, who may be dead, but she's not gone. She's been assigned as a ghostly helper to her former classmate Julia. Nothing Tastes as Good is about food and control and I think it was really well done. I connected to the characters and I felt their emotions quite deeply. The only thing that let it down slightly was that it was slightly lacking in terms of plot and I think it could have explored the characters more deeply.

With Malice by Eileen Cook | ☆☆☆
Another July release from Hot Key Books, With Malice follows eighteen-year-old Jill who wakes up in hospital to find six weeks of memory missing, her best friend dead and the rest of the world accusing Jill of murder. This was marketed as kind of a thriller, which I don't think it was, it was almost a mystery but it didn't have that edge-of-the-seat feeling to it. However I did find the characters interesting and I think the ending worked well.

The Creeper Man by Dawn Kurtagich | ☆☆
I was kindly sent this book for review from Orion and was immediately intrigued by the premise. Sisters Silla and Nori escape London and their abusive father for their Aunt Cath's large country house on the edge of a mysterious wood. It seems like a perfect haven at first, but as the days go on the trees draw nearer and the girls feel a strange presence in the house. I'm not sure whether I just wasn't in the right mood for this but I was just kind of disappointed. The beginning was promising but it began to really drag towards the middle and I found myself almost skimming by the time it got to the end. It wasn't as scary as I thought it was going to be and even it's initial creepy intrigue became quite tenuous by the end. I thought the characters were great, I just think I was expecting something different in terms of the plot.

The Yellow Room by Jess Vallance | ☆☆☆
Another July release from Hot Key Books, The Yellow Room follows Anna who receives a letter from her father's girlfriend, Edie, informing her that her father, who she hasn't seen for years, has died. Anna is feeling distant from her friends, isn't getting on with her mother and is therefore drawn to eclectic, warm Edie. I don't really know what to say about this book, it was well-written and pretty engaging but for me the plot was just lacking something. I found it quite predictable and although I enjoyed it, it didn't wow me.

The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss | ☆☆☆☆.75
What if your loved one just stopped breathing and there was nothing you could do to protect them? Exploring this question is just one fact of The Tidal Zone, which follows stay-at-home dad Adam as he struggles to deal with his daughter's collapse at school and the effects of this shocking event on his family.

After seeing Jen's rave review of this book I immediately requested it from Granta books and man, I wasn't disappointed. This might just be the most well-written book I've ever read. It was beautiful and slow and it unfurled and lingered like smoke, I still can't stop thinking about it. I took my time with it, reading it over almost two weeks, and savouring every wonderful sentence. If you're after a fast-paced plot-based novel then this isn't for you, but if you fancy finely drawn characters and excellent musings on loss and family and emotion then read it immediately.

Nina is Not Ok by Shappi Khorsandi | ☆☆☆☆.5
Seventeen year old Nina likes a drink, but what teenager doesn't? And does it really matter if she wakes up with a hazy memory of the night before? Nina is Not Ok is a dark, raw and unflinching story of addiction which also manages to remain warm and funny and truly human. Nina is such a well-developed character who I couldn't help forming a strong connection to. I couldn't put the book down because I just needed to find out what happened to her. Shappi Khorsandi deals with heavy issues so well and with such grace and humour whilst maintaining the gravitas they deserve. Definitely recommend!

Foxlowe by Eleanor Wasserberg | ☆☆☆☆
Foxlowe is the story of life in a isolated commune told from the perspective of a young girl, who believes that the 'family' she lives with are a 'new, better kind of family'. The young girl, Green, is raised alongside two other children by the nine adults in the commune, including the founders Richard and Freya. However, what should be nurturing relationships are all too often abusive and the events that occur in Green's childhood are to impact her for the rest of her life. Foxlowe has a dark, haunting tone which is only enhanced by the main character's innocence and naivety. I found it totally compelling and read it in two sittings. If you enjoyed Emma Cline's The Girls then this is one for you.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

FOOTNOTES | 1

Hi my name's Sarah.

I'm 24 nearly 25 and I don't know how I feel about that, I graduated two years ago and only just got a 'proper' job and that's okay, I feel the most content by the sea, whenever I eat chips I have to drink milk with them, I don't ever mix the corner into the yoghurt when I eat Muller crunch corners, I think I'm almost completely intolerant to alcohol, my boyfriend hates my birkenstocks but I don't care, I don't like coffee but I wish I did, I'm pretty obsessed with drag queens, I want to go off the pill because I'm scared of what eight years of taking it might have done to my body, I love pink but I only really wear black, I moved out of my parents' house this year, I'm rewatching CSI from the beginning, I take a lot of selfies and I love a good filter.

This post was inspired by the ultimate inspiration and all-round wonderful human, Grace Latter.


Tuesday, 13 September 2016

JULY MINI BOOK REVIEWS



Total number of books read: 3
Total number of pages read: 761
Genres: 2 YA Fantasy, 1 short story collection.
Nationality of author: 1 Ireland, 1 UK, 1 India.

It's been a little quiet around here lately, hasn't it? I started a new job in June so between that and focusing on my health I haven't had a lot of time left for blogging. But I think now that I'm settled in I'm going to try and balance things a little better - so expect some more posts!

Although I haven't been blogging, I've still been reading, so there's quite a lot of reviews to catch up on! Today I'll be tackling the books I read in July - I only read three but they were all pretty great, so let's get into the reviews...

The Wildings by Nilanjana Roy | ☆☆☆
Pushkin Press kindly offered to send me The Wildings for review and I was really intrigued by the concept so of course I said yes! The Wildings is the first book in a series about a group of street cats who roam the alleys of Nizamuddin, Delhi and a mysterious force that shakes up their world, and it's told from the point of view of the cats! I don't think I've ever read a novel from the perspective of animals before so I was really excited to pick this up. I found the plot to be a little slow moving but the character development was strong and I really enjoyed getting to know each of the cats of Nizamuddin. Nilanjana Roy's writing is really strong and it looks to be a great start to a new series.

Treats by Lara Williams | ☆☆☆☆
I first heard about this short story collection from Leena of JustKissMyFrog, who raved about it and I was so pleased when the lovely people at Freight Books sent it to me. Treats is a collection of beautifully written stories focusing on women, dating and relationships and I can honestly say I haven't enjoyed a short story collection this much in a long time. Lara William's writing is dark and delicious and so sharp and witty that it made me want to write, whilst also knowing I could never write something so brilliant.

The Call by Peadar O'Guilin | ☆☆☆☆
Earlier this month I participated in the blog tour for the wonderful The Call by Peadar O'Guilin, which I actually read in August, you can see my stop for the tour here. The Call is a YA fantasy set in a dystopian Ireland, where teenagers are spontaneously 'called' to a dimension called the 'grey land' in which they have to fight for survival. Only 1 in 10 survive. I know what you're thinking, sounds a bit too Hunger-Games-y, but it's definitely not. Don't get me wrong, I love The Hunger Games, but this is a whole different ball game. The Call is so gripping and well written that I devoured it in a single sitting, I couldn't put it down, I had to find out what happened. It's dark and horrifying and so BLOODY INTENSE and I really really enjoyed it. What are you waiting for? Go and read it.

Those were the books I read in July, stay tuned for my August reviews!

Sunday, 4 September 2016

BLOG TOUR: THE CALL BY PEADAR O'GUILIN


The Call by Peadar O'Guilin
Published by David Fickling Books
Release date: 1st September 2016
Source: David Fickling Books via ED public relations, paperback proof copy.

Goodreads | Hive | Wordery

What if you only had 3 minutes to save your own life and the clock is already counting down...

Three minutes. 
Nessa, Megan and Anto know that any day now they wake up alone in a horrible land and realise they've been Called.

Two minutes.
Like all teenagers they know that they'll be hunted down and despite all their training only 1 in 10 will survive.

One minute.
And Nessa can't run, her polio twisted legs mean she'll never survive her Call will she?

Time's up.


Today is my stop on the blog tour for the excellent new YA The Call by Peadar O'Guilin! I absolutely adored this book. I went in not really knowing anything about it and not knowing what to expect and it completely blew me away. I read it in one sitting, I rearranged plans to finish this book - it's that good.

Although The Call is a work of fantasy, it grew in Peadar's mind from Ireland's rich and complex history - from folk tales and conquests and whispers of magic. At the heart of the Ireland within The Call, is The Book of Conquests, an almost sacred text that holds details of survivors and in Nessa's mind, the key to survival. But this fictional Book of Conquests is in fact based on a real piece of Irish history.

Here's Peadar himself to tell us more about the real Book of Conquests:


Make sure to follow Peadar on Twitter. The Call is out now online and in all good bookshops!

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

JUNE FAVOURITES



It's been such a long time since I've done a favourites post so I thought I'd share with you some of the things that have been making me happy lately :)



01. Tilda Garden Vegetable and Quinoa Wholegrain Rice.
I know this is kind of a weird one, and I have no idea if it's any good for you or not, but damn is it delicious. I got a bunch of these on offer and they just make for a really easy meal with some grilled chicken or my absolute favourite: falafel!

02. Maybelline SuperStay nail varnish in 'Pink in the Park'.
I went on holiday in June (more on that below), and I wanted to paint my nails with something that would last the week so I dug out this Maybelline nail varnish that I got last year. It's a lovely pastel pink and it lasted the whole week with barely any chipping - which is pretty impressive! I've been reapplying it ever since because 1) it makes my hands look more tanned *smirk* and 2) it's the perfect summery colour. I think there's quite a few colours in the SuperStay range now so I'm definitely going to be checking out some more!

03. NYX soft matte lip cream in 'Abu Dhabi'.
Last month I finally managed to get to a NYX counter, the awesome one in Selfridge's no less, and picked up the soft matte lip cream in 'Abu Dhabi'. I was hovering around the counter for ages trying to decide between this and 'Stockholm' but eventually went for 'Abu Dhabi' because it's more of a brown-nude and less peachy. I have quite dark lips anyway so darker nudes just look better on me than pale ones. The formula is AWESOME, it lasts pretty much all day - through eating and drinking - with minimal fading, and it feels really comfortable on the lips. I now need every single other shade *sigh*.

04. Primark lip liner.
This lip liner cost me £1. One. Pound. Whaaaaaaaaaaaat?! And it's actually really nice! It's creamy and pretty long lasting and did I mention that its only a quid?!
I don't know the exact shade of this, but there are only a few and they're all really nice so go and check them out!

05. Menorca.
Last month I went on a long awaited and much needed holiday to Menorca with my family and my boyfriend and boy was it amazing. We stayed in an apartment with a sea view and a lovely, blissfully quiet pool and my days were spent lounging in the shade, drinking Fanta Limon and reading all the books. I read five books in 6 days and it was the happiest week I've had in a long time. It already feels like it was years ago and I'm craving another break in the sun!

06. Meridian Cashew Butter.
For twenty four years, for some unknown reason, I'd convinced myself that I didn't like nuts - in any shape or form. Then 2016 came around and I decided, you know what, I should probably actually try some nut products and see if I'm making this whole thing up. And guess what? I was. I actually do like nuts, especially cashews, and especially Meridian Cashew Butter. It's made of 100% organic cashew nuts and I adore it, on toast, with strawberries (sounds weird but it's awesome) and just on a spoon. YUM.

07. Witch Please.
Last but certainly not least is Witch Please. How can I explain this podcast and how much I love it?!
Witch Please is a fortnightly podcast about the Harry Potter world by two lady scholars. At least that's how their website describes it. BUT IT'S SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT! It's about Granger Danger, print culture, the inexplicable terribleness of the fourth film and DESTROYING THE PATRIARCHY! And magic, of course, you can't forget the magic.
The hosts of the podcast, Marcelle Kosman and Hannah McGregor, decided that they wanted to re-read the Harry Potter books and watch the accompanying films and then discuss them in a wonderful mix of literary criticism, hilarity, feminism and awesome sound effects. Have I convinced you yet? Go and listen to it now on your podcast app of choice! You'll be addicted in no time.

Those are the things that have been making me happy lately, what about you? Let me know your favourite thing about June in the comments!

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

MINI BOOK REVIEWS | JUNE



Total number of books read: 5
Total number of pages read: 1696
Genres: 1 YA Fantasy, 1 adult thriller, 2 YA contemporary, 1 YA mystery.
Nationality of author: 2 UK, 2 USA, 1 Jamaican.

Total cliche right here, but HOW THE HECK ARE WE IN JULY ALREADY?! This year has gone so fast and I'm starting to get worried that I won't reach my Goodreads goal for the year *cries forever*.

But never mind because I am reading some books, albeit a bit slowly. I read five books last month, all in one week, and that was the week when I went on holiday. I don't think I've actually mentioned it around these parts but in June I moved house, interviewed for and started a new job, all in one month - so it was a pretty busy one! My holiday to Menorca was a pleasant relief and I read one physical book and four ebooks - so let's get into the reviews!


The Girl in 6E by A.R. Torre | ☆☆☆☆
Deanna Madden has locked herself in her apartment for three years to stop her murderous fantasies from becoming reality. She makes money by being a cam girl, performing online for paying viewers. But a disturbing client and a missing girl force her to re-enter the outside world. Although this is marketed as an 'erotic thriller', I wouldn't really say it's erotica. The discussions of sex and sexual acts are very clinical and matter of fact, they're certainly not typically 'sexy' or erotically charged, and I think this actually worked really well alongside the character development. The plot was slightly clumsy and a bit predictable but it was overall really compelling and I'm intrigued enough by the main character to want to continue with the series.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven | ☆☆☆☆
Violet and Finch meet for the first time on top of their high school's bell tower, both contemplating jumping. The two end up working on a school project together and their lives become entwined. All the Bright Places is an emotionally compelling look at love, loss and mental illness. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this, I'm always wary of books that contain mental illness as a primary theme, but I think Jennifer Niven dealt with the topic really thoughtfully, although it could definitely be triggering for some - so fair warning there. I thought that the characters were really well developed and I really connected to them. I don't often cry when reading but I came really close with All the Bright Places and it definitely stayed with me long after I finished reading.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon | ☆☆☆
Everything, Everything is about eighteen year old Madeline, who has been confined to her house for most of her life due to a rare illness, which means she's basically allergic to almost everything. Her life is mundane and monotonous until a new family moves next door and she catches sight of their teenage son, Olly. I started reading this almost straight after finishing All the Bright Places which might have actually affected how I felt about this book because I think I was automatically comparing them - and All the Bright Places definitely won out in my mind. Although the characters had so much potential, there wasn't much chance for character development before the narrative was pretty much eclipsed by insta-love. This is one of my least favourite tropes as it just seems rushed and the romance doesn't seem to have any foundation, the characters are just suddenly inexplicably in love. Insta-love is a collection of clichés disguised as plot development and it just feels lazy. Despite that, the plot and the writing were interesting enough to bump Everything, Everything up to three stars, although I definitely didn't love it as much as most people seem to.



V For Violet by Alison Rattle | ☆☆☆.5
Set in London, 1961, V for Violet is a YA historical mystery that follows sixteen year old Violet, who is stuck working in her parents' fish and chip shop, dreaming of a more interesting life. Then one day she meets the handsome rocker Beau, her long-lost brother comes home, and local girls start going missing, including her best friend - suddenly life is a bit too interesting. I absolutely love historical fiction and I thought Alison Rattle's 1960s London was excellently developed - it felt very convincing. The mystery was a bit slow to build but the last third of the novel had me completely gripped and I was ultimately pretty satisfied with the ending. I thought Violet was a really interesting and relatable character and although at times she seemed a bit naive, it's understandable considering the time period.

The main issue I had with V For Violet was that the side characters just weren't developed enough. This might be a personal issue as I'm always interested in the side characters and think that they can add so much to a story. I really think that if the side characters, particularly Violet's family, had been just a little more developed, it would've added so much to the narrative and the intensity of the mystery. Overall, V For Violet was a really enjoyable read and I'd definitely like to read more from Alison Rattle.

Bad Apple by Matt Whyman | ☆☆.5
I got a review copy of this from NetGalley quite a while ago so by the time I got to reading it on holiday I couldn't remember what it was about, so I went in completely blind. This is something I usually enjoy doing but with Bad Apple it was a pretty bizarre experience, mainly because the plot was just so out of my comfort zone and kind of confusing. Bad Apple is probably best described as alt-reality or urban fantasy. It's based on the premise that 'trolls' are a subterranean race who look almost exactly like humans but behave differently, and that they have been secretly exchanging their children with human children for centuries and 'troll' behaviour is only apparent once they hit puberty. Thus, it is generally the explanation for anti-social behaviour. Fifteen year old Maurice is kidnapped by trolls whilst on a school trip to a troll settlement and is 'rescued' by Wretch, who happens to be a troll. Thus 352 pages of on-the-run hijinx ensues.

I kind of get what Whyman was trying to do here, a kind of mixing of traditional fairy-tale-esque 'trolls' and the way we use the world 'trolls' today - to describe people who exhibit anti-social behaviour online, in order to raise questions about difference in a humorous way. It's an interesting concept, I just don't think it was executed particularly well. I just wasn't invested in the plot or the characters, the world-building was pretty rushed and the hijinx quite drawn out, and frankly ridiculous. I love humour, I just think this might be intended for a younger audience than me and it definitely got a bit tedious. Give it a go if you have an open mind!

--

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What are you currently reading? Tell me all the things!

Sunday, 19 June 2016

INDEPENDENT BOOKSHOP WEEK 2016 TAG



It's the tenth anniversary of Independent Bookshop Week!

This week (Saturday 18th - Saturday 25th June) is Independent Bookshop Week which was created to celebrate independent bookshops across the UK and Ireland. There are tons of events happening in independent bookshops everywhere and I highly suggest you check out your local bookshop to join in.

The lovely people over at the booksellers association contacted me and invited me to join in with their Independent Bookshop Week tag with ten questions to celebrate ten years of Independent Bookshop Week! So without further ado let's get into the tag:

1. What book(s) are currently in your bag? 
Well I'm actually scheduling this post in advance because when you're reading this I'll be on holiday (woohoo!) so I'll most likely be toting my e-reader around in my beach bag. But at the time of writing the book that's in my bag is The Girl in 6E by A.R. Torre, which is a much hyped mystery-thriller that I haven't figured out my thoughts on yet!

2. What’s the last great book you read?
I read quite a lot of great books so this is a difficult one! But it probably has to go to The Girls by Emma Cline which is a recently released debut novel published by Vintage. I did a full review of this book which you can read here.

3. What book have you gifted the most?
I don't often gift the same book to different people because if I'm giving someone a book I want it to be the perfect book for them and something that they'll really enjoy. However last Christmas I gave Ready Player One by Ernest Cline to both my boyfriend and my brother because although I haven't actually read it myself, I've seen that many rave reviews that I knew they'd both love it - and they did!

4. What’s your favourite independent bookshop?
Gosh this is a hard one, I've visited so many wonderful bookshops that it's hard to pick just one! I visit North Norfolk with my family at least once a year and whilst there we always visit as many bookshops as possible, but my favourite is probably the Old Station bookshop in Wells-Next-The-Sea. As you can tell by the name it used to be a railway station that was built in 1857, it's a really beautiful building and the twisty-turning rooms are piled high with books, including antiquarian books and rare first editions. No matter how busy it gets, it's always almost silent and the dusty air is filled with that special anticipatory atmosphere only found in the best bookshops. The couple who own and run the shop are so lovely and I rarely walk away from there without a tote bag full of books. I highly recommend a visit if you're ever in Wells.

5. What’s been your favourite book recommended by a bookseller (or fellow booktuber)?
I feel like most of the books I read these days have been recommended to me by booktubers or other bloggers! I probably wouldn't have discovered the Saga series of graphic novels (or graphic novels in general) without booktube and I absolutely adore that series. As for my favourite book recommended by a bookseller I think that would have to be Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel which I was pondering buying in a bookshop when a bookseller jumped in and told me it was their favourite read of the year, which just sealed the deal for me, and it then became one of my favourite reads of 2015!

6. What’s your favourite bookshop memory?
I don't have any specific favourite bookshop memories but living in quite a remote area and dealing with chronic illness means that I don't get a chance to visit bookshops very often so each time I get to do that is special to me.

7. What do bookshops mean to you? What do you love about them?
Ever since I was little bookshops have been the most magical places for me. There's just this feeling of excitement, joy and intense satisfaction that I get from being in a bookshop, surrounded by stories I love and so many potential stories. Bookshops are one of the places I feel happiest, most comfortable and just like I'm where I belong. I think it has something to do with my various anxiety disorders and how out of place I often feel in public spaces but in bookshops I know I'm around 'my people', people who love the same thing that I do, and it just makes me feel so much more comfortable. It's always been a dream of mine to be a bookseller and I'm definitely going to make it happen one day, no matter what.

8. What are the books that made you? Which books have most affected or influenced you?
This is possibly the most difficult question ever, I've read so many books it's hard to narrow down the ones that have influenced me most! I'm going to the get the obvious out of the way first and say the Harry Potter series because the books were released when I was growing up and I felt like I was growing alongside the characters, and I think those books got me through my difficult teenage years and kept me reading when I might've stopped.
I'm also going to say The Colour Purple by Alice Walker as it was one of the first books that I studied at school that I really loved and was passionate enough about to write an essay that I was really proud of and that ultimately convinced me to study English Literature at university, without which I might not be where I am today.
But I would say that every single book I've read has affected me, influenced me and enabled me to become a more thoughtful reader.

9. What book do you recommend readers gift for Father’s Day?
Well, obviously all fathers and father figures are different and I'd definitely say a thoughtful and personal book would be best (my dad would love nothing more than a book on fly-fishing that he hasn't read yet!). But if we're talking generally I think The Martian by Andy Weir is a great gift for Father's Day, although I haven't actually read it myself yet, I haven't heard one negative review and it's a book my dad and brother both really enjoyed.

10. What book is currently at the top of your TBR pile?
This might seem like a rather strange one but I read Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton last year and I unexpectedly really enjoyed it and I've been really wanting to get to the sequel The Lost World, which I'm hopefully going to read on holiday! They're not the most well written books and the science is fairly questionable but they're such gripping page-turners and I mean, come on, dinosaurs.

So those are all the questions! I hope you find a way to celebrate Independent Bookshop Week and if you're reading this and you want to do this tag then consider yourself tagged!

I'm also going to tag some of my favourite bookish bloggers and friends: Emma of The Eggplant Emoji, Grace of Almost Amazing Grace, Emma of Emma's Bookery, Ali of Ali Caitrin and Aisling of Aisling's Beauty Bites!

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