Wednesday 30 September 2015

Wednesday Catch-Up 30th September 2015

Every Wednesday we are linking up with WWW Wednesday, What Are You Reading Wednesday? and Waiting on Wednesday. WWW Wednesday is hosted at Taking on a World of Words and asks 3 questions: What are you currently reading?, What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you'll read next? This is a similar meme to This Week in Books, hosted at Lipsyy Lost & Found.
What Are You Reading Wednesday are hosted on It's a Reading Thing and asks;
1. What's the name of your current read?
2. Go to page 34 or 34% in your e-book and share one complete sentence.
3. Would you like to live in the world that exists within your book? Why or why not?
Waiting on Wednesday is hosted at Breaking the Spine and is a chance to show what upcoming releases you are excited for! Each week we will take it in turns to choose a book for Waiting on Wednesday and this week was Clare's turn!


Currently Reading:
Timebound (The Chronos Files, #1)The Rest of Us Just Live Here
I am currently reading Timebound and The Rest of Us Just Live Here both of which I am really enjoying.
"You can hear coyotes at night and we get deer in our yard all the time."
I would love to live in this world because I would love to see a deer in my garden all the time! Also from the blurb it sounds like a cool place to live. 

Recently Finished:
Just Like the Movies (If Only . . ., #7)
I have recently finished reading Just Like The Movies which was a good book but very annoying because it gave away the ending of some films I have yet to watch! I will have a full review of this up on Saturday.

Planning to Read Next:
A Face Like Glass
I am planning on reading A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge next before starting on my Halloween reads.

Currently Reading:
Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)
I have finished my Classic for the month and I will start a new one tomorrow but for now it means my focus is all on Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo which I am so excited to be reading.
"The sharp tang of gunpowder already hung in the air - and along with it a question, unspoken in the quiet, as if the Reaper himself awaited the answer: How much blood will be shed tonight?"
Realistically speaking I don't suppose I would want to live in this world but I am already in love with these characters so I'd love to live in a world with them. Just, you know, as long as I don't get murdered!

Recently Finished:
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, WitchBest Friends ForeverThe Language of FlowersNot Without YouEmber IslandLighthouse BayAlways the BridesmaidIt Felt Like a KissThe DishPrima DonnaSummer at Tiffany'sThe Summer Without You
Since last Wednesday I finished Good Omens which I really enjoyed, it was very funny. I then moved on to Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner, which I thought was good but not nearly as suspenseful as I had expected it to be. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh was very beautifully written and I have a full review up here. I then had a bout of insomnia and couldn't sleep one night so managed to finish Not Without You, which was interesting but I thought had a weak mystery, Ember Island by Kimberley Freeman which was quite good and Lighthouse Bay by Kimberley Freeman which I actually didn't enjoy, although I think that was more my fault than the books, Always the Bridesmaid by Lindsey Kelk which was very funny as her books always are and It Felt Like a Kiss by Sarra Manning which was good. So insomnia - the secret to reading more (and also getting a headache that lasts a week). I then read The Dish by Stella Newman which made me so hungry you have no idea. I liked it but I thought the ending went on too long the conflict just took forever to wrap up. Then I read Prima Donna by Karen Swan which was good and I will have a full review up for it on Friday and Summer at Tiffany's and The Summer Without You which were both really good reads. If you like contemporary romance and haven't read any Karen Swan I do recommend them, they are chunky reads but well worth it!

Planning to Read Next:
Angel Dares (Benedicts, #5)Black IceThe Casquette Girls
My copy of A Curious Beginning just arrived!! It's way earlier than expected it's not even supposed to be released until Friday but I am so excited!! I know it's going to be amazing! Angel Dares by Joss Stirling is released tomorrow and I am excited to read it. This whole series has a bad case of insta-love but they are such fun reads and have such exciting plot lines that I find I don't usually care! After that - I don't know! It'll be October then so my Halloween themed reading month will begin and I have a lot of scary/creepy books to get to. So maybe Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick or maybe The Casquette Girls by Alys Arden. Let me know which one you think I should go with!

Waiting on Wednesday:
The Many Lives of John Stone
An English teen questions all she knows about aging when she encounters a set of journals that date from the present back to the reign of King Louis XIV in this blend of contemporary and historical fiction from the author of the acclaimed Gideon trilogy.

Stella Park (Spark for short) has found summer work cataloging historical archives in John Stone’s remote and beautiful house in Suffolk, England. She wasn’t quite sure what to expect, and her uncertainty about living at Stowney House only increases upon arriving: what kind of people live in the twenty-first century without using electricity, telephones, or even a washing machine? Additionally, the notebooks she’s organizing span centuries—they begin in the court of Louis XIV in Versailles—but are written in the same hand. Something strange is going on for sure, and Spark’s questions are piling up. Who exactly is John Stone? What connection does he have to these notebooks? And more importantly, why did he hire her in the first place?

Clare: This book was so destined for me. A) that's my brother's name, and B) a "blend of contemporary and historical fiction" is one of my favourite things to read. This just sounds so interesting and I really like the cover. This is due to be released on 20th October 2015.

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare) to keep up with what we are reading

Top 5 Banned Books

Top 5 Wednesdays are hosted by Ginger Reads Lainey and you can find the goodreads page here. This week's topic was Banned Books which really intrigued me because, although I know that books can be banned, I had no idea just how many had been - of for what incredibly silly sounding (at least to me) reasons!
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)Northern Lights (His Dark Materials, #1)Green Eggs and Ham
Fanny Hill, or Memoirs of a Woman of PleasureAlice's Adventures in Wonderland (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, #1)
Harry Potter: I'm fairly sure this will be a popular choice. I still find it so weird that people actually want to ban something this amazing.
Northern Lights: I genuinely love this book. 
Green Eggs and Ham: According to Wikipedia this was "banned in 1965 in the People's Republic of China for it's portrayal of early Marxism".
Fanny Hill: I can kind of see why this was banned, especially at the time, but also, it's a fun book and there's a great BBC adaptation.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: Again to Wikipedia where this was "formerly banned in Hunan China in 1931" because it portrayed animals that could talk which might encourage children to think animals and humans were equal which could be "disastrous". This makes me laugh.

Tuesday 29 September 2015

Tuesday Teasers 29th September 2015

First Chapter, First Paragraph, Tuesday Intros is hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea where bloggers share the first paragraph or two of the book they are currently reading/thinking about reading soon. Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
 Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


The Rest of Us Just Live Here
Tuesday Intro:
"On the day we're the last people to see indie kid Finn alive, we're all sprawled together in the Field, talking about love and stomachs.

Teaser Tuesday:
“Feelings don't try to kill you, even the painful ones. Anxiety is a feeling grown too large. A feeling grown aggressive and dangerous. You're responsible for it's consequences, you're responsible for treating it. But Michael, you're not responsible for causing it. You're not morally at fault for it. No more than you would be for a tumour.” 

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)
Tuesday Intro:
"Joost had two problems: the moon and his moustache.He was supposed to be making his rounds at the Hoede house, but for the last fifteen minutes, he'd been hovering around the south-east wall of the gardens, trying to think of something clever and romantic to say to Anya."
Teaser Tuesday: 

"“Kaz leaned back. "What's the easiest way to steal a man's wallet?" 
"Knife to the throat?" asked Inej. "Gun to the back?" said Jesper. 
"Poison in his cup?" suggested Nina. 
"You're all horrible," said Matthias.”"
This just arrived and I am just so genuinely excited. I am already half in love with this book and those quotes are both so good! I am going to be really anti-social until I've finished this!

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare) and on Twitter (Ann and Clare) to keep up with what we are reading 

Clare Reviews: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Language of FlowersTitle: The Language of Flowers
Author: Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Series: No
Pages: 390
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4/5
Blurb: The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.

Now eighteen and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market has her questioning what’s been missing in her life, and when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness. 

"For eight years I dreamed of fire. Trees ignited as I passed them; oceans burned"
It has always fascinated me that people can send hidden messages through flowers. That one bouquet of flowers can say "I forgive you" or "you mean everything to me" so when I saw this in my favourite bargain book shop it was almost an automatic purchase. And then it sat on my shelf for years getting entirely neglected. I am kind of glad I waited though. I think I can appreciate this story a lot more now than I ever could have as a teenager, I will never know what it's like to be a foster child and, thank god, I have a family who love me. But that doesn't mean I didn't sometimes relate to Victoria. 

Victoria is one of my new favourite characters. She was difficult and prickly and I loved her for it. Victoria spent the majority of this book, and of her life, not believing in herself at all. She believed she only brought pain to those around her so she separated herself from them before she could, or before they could pull away from her. All the characters in this book felt incredibly real to me, they were all unique and interesting and none of them were good or bad they just were. Of the side characters Elizabeth was probably my favourite. She had such an importance in Victoria's life and I loved that she wasn't perfect, and she didn't always do the right thing but she did always love Victoria.

The book was written half in the past when Victoria (aged 10) was living with Elizabeth and half in the present when grown up eighteen year old Victoria has been emancipated and is working and living alone. I have read books where this split seemed unnecessary and jarring but here the two parts came together so perfectly. Things in the past were revealed at the same point they became relevant in the present and I never felt confused or jolted out of the story.

I really enjoyed the plot of this story, I thought there were a few things that became obvious before Victoria realised them, but I loved the build up to the event from Victoria's past because I was on the edge of my seat to find out what had happened. There was this tension in the story the whole way through. We know from the first chapter that Victoria is in a group home when she is emancipated. Which means she cant have had a happy ending with Elizabeth. I spent all the past chapters half heartbroken by every happy moment and half tense waiting for whatever was coming. The present day story was no less interesting or emotionally turbulent although I did have more hope when it came to thinking about Victoria's future.

The ending was very unconventional and it was almost a beginning-ending but I really loved it. It felt realistic to the story as a whole and to Victoria's character. And there was resolution enough that, though I am still thinking about this story, I do feel satisfied by the ending. This is not my usual sort of read, so I'm really not sure who to recommend this to. But if you love books about flawed, very damaged characters and a story line that will make you smile and bring you nearly to tears, then this is probably a great book for you.

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare) and on Twitter (Ann and Clare) to keep up with what we are reading 

Monday 28 September 2015

October Releases 2015

There are so, so many new releases I am excited for in October! Why is it that so many books are released on the same day? I can already tell the 6th is going to be a nightmare for my poor postman! Also is it just me, or are book covers in October really stepping up their game?
Angel Dares (Benedicts, #5)An Inheritance of AshesThe Chess Queen Enigma (Stoker & Holmes, #3)A Madness So DiscreetThe Rest of Us Just Live HereThe Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #1)Carry OnIlluminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)A Thousand NightsThese Shallow Graves
Angel Dares by Joss Stirling: Due for release 1st October. This is the fifth book in what is mostly a really light fun story. Every single one is insta-love if that bothers you but it's because of the supernatural element and the explanation means I don't hate it as much here.
An Inheritance of Ashes by Leah Bobet: Due for release 6th October. I pre-ordered this way too late and my copy now isn't expected to arrive until the 28th October - but just look at that cover!
The Chess Queen Enigma by Colleen Gleason: Due for release 6th October. I really enjoyed the first two books so I have fairly high hopes for this.
A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis: Due for release 6th October. Probably one of my most anticipated for October, the cover, the title, the description - I love everything.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness: Due for release 6th October. We actually already have our copy of this (thanks to read for review from Waterstones) but it's still exciting. You can find my review here.
The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan: Due for release 6th October. So much excitement!!! This is one of my most anticipated of the whole year and I know it won't let me down!
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell: Due for release 6th October. I loved Fangirl, and a huge part of that was Simon Snow so I am really, really excited for this!
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff: Due for release 20th October. I love the layout of this book. I know the advanced reviews are a little mixed but I am keeping my hopes up.
A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston: Due for release 22nd October. The Wrath and the Dawn set the bar pretty high for Arabian Nights retellings - which means I feel kind of iffy about this one. It looks good but it might suffer by comparison. 
These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly: Due for release 27th October. We received a copy of this book from Netgalley and I will be posting my full review closer to the release date.

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare) and on Twitter (Ann and Clare) to keep up with what we are reading

Clare Reviews: The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath by Ishbelle Bee

The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath (The Peculiar Adventures of John Loveheart, Esq. #1)Title: The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath
Author: Ishbelle Bee
Series: The Peculiar Adventures of John Loveheart, Esq #1
Pages: 325
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4.5/5
Blurb: 1888. A little girl called Mirror and her shape-shifting guardian Goliath Honeyflower are washed up on the shores of Victorian England. Something has been wrong with Mirror since the day her grandfather locked her inside a mysterious clock that was painted all over with ladybirds. Mirror does not know what she is, but she knows she is no longer human. 

John Loveheart, meanwhile, was not born wicked. But after the sinister death of his parents, he was taken by Mr. Fingers, the demon lord of the underworld. Some say he is mad. John would be inclined to agree. 

Now Mr Fingers is determined to find the little girl called Mirror, whose flesh he intends to eat, and whose soul is the key to his eternal reign. And John Loveheart has been called by his otherworldly father to help him track Mirror down...

"The night before I died, I dreamt I had turned into a ladybird."

I will confess I did not actually read the blurb before starting this book (it was the beautiful, beautiful covers) and so about two chapters in I had to pause and go back to read it because - what the heck!? Those covers promise something beautiful - and this was, in a way. But mostly it was bizarre and dark and twisted. In all the best ways.

The story starts with a little girl called Mirror as the narrator. Mirror is charming and sweet but also vaguely unnerving and disturbing. She has something not human inside her and she and her guardian Goliath are seeking a way to exorcise it. Her observations of the world around her were captivating, because one minute she would be naive and innocent and the next wishing death on people (especially her grandfather). She also had a strangely mature air about her so that at times I completely forgot she was a child. Her relationship with Goliath was always a very touching and interesting one although it did change quite a bit over the course of the book. Her effect on Loveheart was also fascinating and I wish they had had more time together.

For the rest of the book the narrative, and the timeline, hop about all over the place so you have to keep careful track of whereabouts in the events you are. But one thing Ishbelle Bee did superbly was how unique each person's narrative voice was. There was an underlying weirdness to each voice and story but you got a different feel from each one. Goliath's narrative felt safe whilst Loveheart's felt exhilarating and tense. The book also featured what I am can best describe as visual onomatopoeia. Which is to say certain words or sentences appeared in different fonts or sizes or positions on the page, to give them an emphasis or an importance. I noticed that the more insane the narrator was the more often their chapters would contain this. It was honestly one of my favourite things about this book.

I've mentioned Loveheart and really, he deserves more of a summary than I can give him. I do not usually root for a madman who goes around wantonly decapitating people, often for no reason (unless you count them serving dry lemon drizzle cake as a good reason). But he was so oddly charming and enchanting that I found, by the end of the book, I was a little bit in love with him. Mr Fingers, the villain, was never quite as menacing as I had hoped he would be. He was depraved and evil, certainly. But I always felt confident in Mirror's ability to beat him. Which did take away some of the tension.

This book is described as an adult fairy tale and it does have that sort of surreal fairy tale quality. There are also plenty of references in the book - for example the character Pomegranate who is offered a deal by the Lord of the Underworld to spend six months with him and six months above ground. But she acts very differently than Persephone! Pomegranate makes only a brief appearance but I did really like her and her Aunt Eva. 

Overall I would say that, although I really liked this book I am well aware that it won't be for everyone. If you like your books and your characters to be very dark, and you, like me, like unusual formats in books then I definitely recommend it. I have already read the second book (The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl) and I can tell you that it was just as weird if not more so but that I actually liked the characters even more in the second book. Boo Boo in particular I just loved. I can only hope there will be more of this series (and please can this be a movie - seriously it would be so great!)

 You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare) and on Twitter (Ann and Clare) to keep up with what we are reading

Sunday 27 September 2015

Sunday Post 27th September 2015

The Sunday Post STSmall_thumb[2]

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted at Caffeinated Book Reviewer, it's a chance to post a recap on the past week, show the books we have received and share what we plan for the coming week. Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Showcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea and the aim is to show our newest books and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops or downloaded on to their e-reader. As always you can click on any of the pictures to be taken to the Goodreads page for that book if you're interested in finding out more about it.

Last Week on the Blog:

Books We Got This Week:
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman: I have already read this and I did really enjoy it, I thought it was quite funny.
The Heartless City by Andrea Berthot: I received a copy from the publisher for review through NetGalley and I am planning to read it very soon so I can get the review up in October since this seems like a Halloween read!

Reading Update:
Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops More Weird Things Customers Say in BookshopsJust Like the Movies (If Only . . ., #7)
Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell: 5 stars. This was hilarious and I couldn't stop laughing.
More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell: 5 stars. Even funnier than the first.
Just Like The Movies by Kelly Fiore: 4 stars. This was a very good book although it was annoying when it spoiled the ending of a few films that I have yet to watch.

I had quite a good reading week this week. I wasn't feeling overly well which meant I didn't do a whole lot other than read. And then I had one night where my insomnia would not let me sleep at all and I finished five books, which was good for my TBR pile not so great for my sleeping pattern.
Maid of Wonder (Maids of Honor #3)The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath (The Peculiar Adventures of John Loveheart, Esq. #1)The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl (The Peculiar Adventures of John Loveheart, Esq. #2)Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, WitchBest Friends ForeverThe Language of FlowersNot Without YouEmber IslandLighthouse BayAlways the BridesmaidIt Felt Like a KissThe Dish
Maid of Wonder by Jennifer McGowan: 3.5 stars. I do have my full review for this up here but essentially the history and the mystery were great, the romance not so much.
The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath by Ishbelle Bee: 4.5 stars. When I say this may be the most bizarre book I have ever read I am not remotely kidding. This was weird and dark and twisted beyond belief. I have a full review up here.
The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl by Ishbelle Bee: 4 stars. If possible this was even weirder than the first book but still very very enjoyable.
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman: 3.5 stars, I thought this was funny and interesting and I liked the characters.
Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner: 3 stars. I very nearly got rid of this recently and then just about decided to keep it. I thought the suspense element could have been played up a little and maybe less of an emphasis on the past events because although they did eventually become relevant some of the childhood stuff was just boring.
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh: 4 stars. I really enjoyed this more than I expected to. I loved the main character and the language of flowers fascinated me. Who knew Tansy means "I declare war on you"? I will have my full review up for this next week.
Not Without You by Harriet Evans: 3 stars. I liked the present day story more than the past one but ultimately didn't like how things were wrapped up. The mystery was way too easy to solve.
Ember Island by Kimberley Freeman: 3.5 stars. I really liked the past story, the present day story was less compelling but I still liked the story.
Lighthouse Bay by Kimberley Freeman: 2.5 stars. I'm fairly sure this was just a case of this book not being for me. I didn't connect with the characters or the story although the writing was good. 
Always the Bridesmaid by Lindsey Kelk: 4 stars. Very funny, with great characters and the relationship between the three friends was really well done. If I had one complaint it's that Tom really didn't get much page time.
It Felt Like a Kiss by Sarra Manning: 3 stars. I thought this was good and it was an enjoyable way to spend a few hours but I'm just more and more sure that Sarra Mannings books aren't really my thing. I always feel slightly disengaged from them which is a shame.
The Dish by Stella Newman: 3.5 stars. Strong beginning and middle but the end sort of started to drag for me. Overall I really enjoyed it though and would look forward to more by Stella Newman.

Classics Update:
Little Women (Little Women, #1)The Wings of the Dove
Ann: I've taken a break from reading this as I've been struggling with balancing school and reading. It is likely I will have to read this through October as well.
Clare: I have now finished Wings of the Dove and will have my final thoughts and my selection for October in our Wrap Up & TBR next week.

Next Week on the Blog:
  • October Releases
  • Top Ten Books to Read if You Like...
  • Tuesday Teasers
  • Top 5 Banned Books You've Read
  • Wednesday Catch-Up
  • Friday Reads
  • September Wrap Up & October TBR
Upcoming Reviews:
  • The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath by Ishbelle Bee
  • Just Like The Movies by Kelly Fiore
  • The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
  • Prima Donna by Karen Swan