31 March 2016

Monthly Wrap Up // March

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Another month ends and I can’t remember what on earth I’ve done with my month. I mean, where does the time go? We’re three months into the year and I can’t believe it. I won’t bore you with lots of updates on life, that’s what Sunday Summaries are for, but it is crazy how fast the year is going. Let’s take a look back on the month then.

Can’t Stop Listening




March Reads

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March Posts


March Links

It Starts at Midnight // Commenting: Nice or Necessary?
Pages of Starlight: Author Trust // My Thoughts on My Kindle
The Quiet People: Books I’m Pre-Ordering in 2016 (in case you need suggestions)
Of Dragons and Hearts: Are Bloggers Really Introverts?
Fine Print: My Life In Library-Land: Grad School, The Pride Library, and OLA (this totally makes me want to work in a library)
Little Winter: Friendship Breakups

And let’s finish this post with a Harry Potter fanvideo:

What have you been up to this month? Read any good posts, books, seen a good video? Tell me all about it.

29 March 2016

My Top Five Favourite And Most Disappointing Books of 2016 So Far

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and this week’s theme is ten of my most recent 5 star reads, but that would take me all the way back to last year so instead I am doing my five favourite and five most disappointing books of 2016 so far. That’s three months worth of reading which equates to nearly 50 books. I figure it’s a fair section of books to look at and highlight. I would like to point out that my disappointing books aren’t necessarily bad, they were just the books that I felt most let down by when reading (although some I didn’t like as well).

My Top Five Favourite Books Of The Year So Far

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My Least Favourite Books Of The Year So Far

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I did plan to write out my thoughts on all these books but I then I stopped as they were turning into mini reviews. If you want to know why any of the books are where they are then ask and I will tell.

What are your highs and lows in reading so far this year? Have you found a new favourite or has that book everyone’s been raving about left you disappointed?

28 March 2016

Gone to the Movies // The English Patient

gone to the movies
Gone To The Movies is a joint feature Kaja and I are doing where we watch romance films and then write a review. It’ll be one film a month to happen in the middle of the month (I think we agreed the third Monday of each month… but don’t take my word for it) and is just a fun feature which gives me an excuse to watch romance films.
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The English Patient was a film suggested by Kaja. It is one I’ve never seen before and is a much more serious film than the past couple we’ve watched together. It was a mixed bag for me, there were things I enjoyed about the film but there was a whole let more I didn't. Maybe it was expectations or maybe I just have to accept not every film is for me, but let's take a look.

The Story


The film follows a nurse, Hana, and the badly burned patient she is caring for, know as the English patient as he has lost his memories in the accident which left him so severely burnt. They are joined by others in an Italian monastery and slowly the memories and past of the patient are revealed. We discover he is Lazlo de Almasy and we learn about his past with Katherine Clifton and the mapping of Africa. There is a lot going on, it is a film told through flashbacks to the past as we discover more about our mysterious English patient (who is not actually English, might I add).

I might as well get it all out of the way now, I didn’t like this film. I know why people probably enjoyed it, I mean, it won all those awards. It had to be doing something right, didn’t it? It just wasn’t for me. It was a bit too dramatic for my liking. The thing is with films like this one, if I want a more intense film then I tend to be indifferent to there being romance in it, this one had a whole lot of romance and the drama as well. You have some complex romance that goes on forever and affects so many people and it’s all heart-breaking and such, that’s just not me. If I want romance I want it to be fun, and if it’s going to be a complex story I don’t particularly care about the romance, I just want a good story. Unfortunately for me this film had too much romance and a story which didn’t end up interesting me as much as I would have liked and so it all ended up falling flat for me.

Now, I think this film could have probably redeemed itself quite easily if I had actually cared about the characters, but I didn’t. I couldn’t claim to have disliked them, they were interesting. I could film myself getting close to being intrigued by them, especially Hana, but I never properly cared. That's the thing about films like this one unless you form that connection with the characters you don't actually feel the impact of the story. I was intrigued by learning more about our mysterious English patient's history and I was intrigued by out cast of characters in the monastery, but not enough to claim I actually cared. I mean, if somehow I didn't get to see the end of the film I wouldn't have been upset by that fact. 

Sadly, I just didn't care enough about that character. I think that is my issue with this film. The story was solid, and I could have even enjoyed the grand love affair happening if I had cared more about the characters. I just wish I knew why I didn't connect with them


The Romance


This heading doesn’t feel appropriate for this films. It’s not a romance, not in my eyes. There is a romance, and I suppose the romance is the driving force of the film, but it feels like a criticism to reduce this film down to a simple romance. There is a lot more to it. I may not have appreciated the more that is this film, but I can see that there is a lot more going on than the romance.

My wish to view this film as more than a romance may partially be down to the fact that I didn’t particularly like the featured romance. I wasn’t interested in Katherine and Lazlo and their affair, honestly, if this film had been about Hana I probably would have been happier. Hana was sweet, you felt an instant connection with her loss at the beginning and her recovery whilst caring for Lazlo. I was invested in her part in the film and it was probably the driving force for me.

So… Did I Like It?


I think the answer to this one is obvious. I didn't like it, which seems too critical, I could see the potential but figured out within the first half an hour this wouldn’t be a film for me. There are just those films you don’t like and this is one of mine. I really enjoyed the supporting cast of characters and was disappointed that Lazlo and Katherine ended up taking the starring roles when they weren’t the ones I wanted to watch.

Isn’t it strange the characters you choose to make a connection with when watching a film? It’s much like in books when you cling to that hilarious secondary character who doesn’t get enough of a storyline but you utterly adore anyway. That is what this film was like for me, I was clinging to those supporting characters who didn’t get enough story to keep me watching.

Join us next month when Kaja and I will be watching and reviewing Dirty Dancing. That one is an old favourite so a much more upbeat review of that one will occur.

Have you ever found yourself watching a celebrated film and found yourself confused as to what everyone else sees in it? And have you watched any films where you are more interested in the supporting cast than your main characters?

27 March 2016

Sunday Summary // 27.03.2016

Sunday Summary
This week has been the longest week! I was so tired after my weekend trip up north last week that I think I’ve been playing sleep catch up ever since. I don’t think it helped that I had Monday off of work and so this week was a three day working week. Have you ever tried to motivate yourself to work when you know you only have three days and then a four day weekend to look forward to? Let me tell you, it isn’t easy. I couldn’t even motivate myself to do blog related things because my working day felt so long I just wanted to sleep, read, or watch TV. It has been the laziest week I’ve had in a while, which is kind of a good thing.

I also went out on Thursday (again, I know guys. I am basically becoming that girl that has a social life and goes to clubs, I thought I was past it… but obviously not) and I spent all of Friday hungover until a trip to McDonalds was done and a trip to Asda for new bedding happened (I love bedding, this has been established). It was really great, though. One of my friends has recently returned from a long stint in Australia and I have known her since secondary school, making her one of my oldest friends, and it was amazing to see her. It’s nice knowing that you may have known this person forever, but you still have enough in common to stay friends.

Apart from that it’s been a quiet lead-up to Easter. I will hopefully get one Easter egg today (I’ve spied one and I’m hoping my mom hasn’t just bought them for my stepdad’s grandchildren) so will be eating and enjoying that. I have spent the rainy weekend reading and watching TV mostly, although I did invest in Pokémon Blue as they’ve released it on the Nintendo 3DS store. My brother and I have already agreed we’ll buy the opposite game to each other and battle regularly (because we are so cool).

What I’ve Been Reading

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I have been on a bit of a romance binge this past week. Romance of any kind is like my default reading when I’m in a rut and thus the romance books. It began after last weekend when I was so deathly tired I just wanted a comfort read, so I reread 9 Rules and loved it just as much the second time around. I then read a couple of the Gamers series after seeing Kaja’s review for Playing For Her Heart and knowing I needed to read this book when it was set during a comic-con. The second book is better than the first but both were enjoyable short romance reads. I’ll probably read the third book next week. As for Nobody But You, I was looking for a snuggly comfort read on Friday whilst hungover and this book fully delivered. Jill Shalvis writes these perfect romance which are the perfect pick me ups. I adored it completely and am in the process of writing a review to fully explain why. And anyone who told me how amazing Rebel of the Sands was, you were totally right. I finished it this morning and it is love. Complete and utter love.

New To Me

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Okay, can we take a moment to not judge me and my terrible Kindle book buying binge? I know these are a lot of books, but there was an Easter sale and they were cheap and I know not what I do!

Now we’ve taken a moment to accept there are a lot of books let us move on to actually looking at them. I may have impulse bought Megan Erickson’s Gamers series after Kaja reviewed one book, I very much impulse bought the first Poldark book when it went down to 99p. As for the Muirwood books, they were in the Easter sale along with The Masked City and I am one of those people who buys a whole series before reading the first book. It’s a character flaw of mine. I then began browsing all the books on my to buy shelf and then added a lot to my to buy shelf and bought A Lady By Midnight, because I have not read enough Tessa Dare yet. The Gift and The Crown and the Arrow were both free, and the second book hardly counts as it’s a short story and will take a few minutes to read.

And there is my week. Anyone have anything nice planned for Easter? And what have you all been reading lately? I never get to hear about your recent reads… unless you review them.

24 March 2016

Bite Sized Books // Those Books I Enjoyed But Didn’t Have Enough to Say On Them

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6
Published: 9th February 2016
Source: Bought
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, New Adult
My Rating:
“Ellie Cahill is definitely one to watch!” raves bestselling author Cora Carmack, and this steamy, upbeat modern romance about connecting in all the best ways proves it once again.

Clementine Daly knows she’s the black sheep. Her wealthy, powerful family has watched her very closely since she almostgot caught in an embarrassing scandal a few years ago. So when Clementine’s sent on a mission to live up to the Daly name, politely declining isn’t an option. Of course, the last thing she does before boarding the plane is to grab a stranger’s phone by mistake—leaving the hunky journalist with her phone. Soon his sexy voice is on the line, but he doesn’t know her real name, or her famous pedigree—which is just the way Clementine likes it.

Despite all the hassles, Justin Mueller is intrigued to realize that the beautiful brown-eyed girl he met at the airport is suddenly at his fingertips. They agree to exchange phones when they’re both back in town, but after a week of flirty texts and wonderfully intimate conversations, Justin doesn’t want to let her go. The only problem? It turns out that Clemetine has been lying to him about, well, everything. Except for the one thing two people can’t fake, the only thing that matters: The heat between them is for real.
The concept of this book is perfect. Two strangers accidently switch phones and find themselves chatting with one another before they ever meet. They have a connection no one could have predicted and they decide to meet, the only issue is Clementine has not been completely honest with Justin and after a past misfortune finds herself unable to be completely comfortable with this new man she knows nothing about. Their fast connection leads to her having doubts and the story takes some interesting turns.

I didn’t realise this was more a novella length when I started reading it, but I enjoyed it regardless. I think I would have preferred it to be a full length 350+ pages though because I felt the story was a bit rushed in places. I loved every second of it whilst reading, but looking back I can’t help but think that some of the story was never fully developed. Everything felt a bit rushed as it was attempted to fit in the few pages of the book.

I can safely say it was short but sweet, it only felt rushed when looking back on it. At the time of reading I was utterly enchanted with this book. My only other complaint, though, is that the book was too nice. It was a nice romance with nice characters and it was just a bit too pleasant. I liked it, though. I can’t claim I’d read it again, but I enjoyed it and could say most people who enjoy a good romance will enjoy this too.
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Published: 15th May 2014
Source: Bought
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
My Rating:
A love letter to the craft and romance of film and fate in front of—and behind—the camera from the award-winning author of Hold Still.


A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world.

Emi is a film buff and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic…. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance.
I’m going to begin by saying there was quite a shallow reason for me wanting to read this book and that was the cover. It’s such a pretty cover which completely fits the book within. You can imagine my excitement, though, when I discovered the writing was not plain black after getting the book. Instead, the writing is a metallic purple that appears black in certain lights. I love subtle things like that on a cover, and it’s another way in which it fits the book, because this book is very much about the little things and subtleties in life.

Luckily, this books cover does contain a fantastic book within it’s pages. It was a beautifully written story, it was almost a delicate read in as much as any book could be called delicate. I loved the characters and the story was fantastic. This book contained just enough mystery to keep you reading, if the story itself doesn’t intrigue you enough. I have to say, I’ve never wanted to buy furniture and decorate a home as much as when I was reading this book. The way set design is talked about and the detail gone into for a single piece of furniture was amazing. You will think twice when watching a film, I’ll tell you that.

I was annoyed that the book began with the usual absentee parents issue which haunts YA books, but it was explained in an unusual way. I liked that it was at least acknowledged, something a lot of books struggle with.

I have to say, this is a prime example of diversity done well in a book. It’s not even diversity done well for YA, but just done well. It was in no way an issue book about sexuality or race, but instead it was just stated as a fact about characters. One thing which really stood out for me in this book was the fact that Emi acknowledges that coming out was not a thing she had to do just once, but had to do repeatedly through her life to all the new people she meets. It was something I had never considered and that really struck me as significant.

Basically, I adored this book. I adored the relationship between Emi and Ava. I adored her friendship with Charlotte. I adored her relationship with her brother. I enjoyed the small sense of mystery within the book and the connections between the characters. It was such a beautifully written book and it included diversity done right. This is simply a perfectly well-written book which was enjoyable to read. I cannot recommend it enough.

10
Published: 23rd April 2013
Source: Bought
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
My Rating:
If you were bewitched by The Night Circus…
If you were mesmerised by A Discovery of Witches…
If you were enthralled by Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell…
You will be enchanted by
THE GOLEM & THE DJINNI
Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master, the husband who commissioned her, dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York in 1899.

Ahmad is a djinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop. Though he is no longer imprisoned, Ahmad is not entirely free – an unbreakable band of iron binds him to the physical world.

The Golem & The Djinni is their magical, unforgettable story; unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures – until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful threat will soon bring Chava and Ahmad together again, challenging their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.
This is a review of a book which I can acknowledge was well-written and interesting, but still just wasn’t for me. I liked the concept, but in practise I could not find myself rating it highly. I think it may have been a case of high expectations, I was wanting so much from this book that it was difficult for it to deliver.

As I said, I understand why people rate this book so highly. I liked so many elements of it. The New York setting was perfect for these mythological beings that appear completely out of place from their actual origins in the past. The story itself was utterly original, I could not claim it be otherwise. The characters were intriguing with levels of other-worldliness and likability which lead you to care about them. For some reason, though, this didn’t combine to make a book I loved.

I think where it all went wrong for me was the multiple viewpoints. I can get distracted very easily, and when you have multiple narrators you are at great risk of alienating me because I tend to grow attached to one or two characters storylines and get bored when I read the rest of them. I know they al link up to create the actual overarching storyline, but until they link together I just have certain favourite characters and I’m wanting to skip the parts of everyone else. That, unfortunately, was the case for me in this book. It’s always a difficult keeping my attention at the best of times and unfortunately for this book it didn’t succeed.

This is a book which is very well-written, I had rating it so low but it wasn’t for me. I know this and I’m upset that I didn’t like it more, but that’s the way it goes.

13
Published: 10th April 2014
Source: Bought
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Contemporary
My Rating:
My breath caught and I dropped the letter, scuttling back on the bed. Heart racing, I closed my eyes, but I could still see the words…

Samantha Franco has the perfect life. Until, that is, she and her best friend Cassie disappear and only Samantha resurfaces… with no knowledge of what happened.

And Cassie stays missing. Gradually, Samantha begins to piece together her memories of that night. If she can do that, she may yet be able to save her friend. And, little by little, something begins to emerge…

Then she gets the note.

Don't look back. You won't like what you find.
I have been a fan of Armentrout for a long time. Her writing tends to have a lot of predictability to it, though. She employs the same elements in a lot of her books that can lead to you getting bored. In a lot of her paranormal romances she puts her characters in similar roles and you find yourself getting bored of her predictable storylines. She employs a lot of the usual tropes and it can get boring, although her New Adult books are a lot better than her paranormal ones in my opinion. This book is different to all her other ones, though. I think this is the Armentrout book to read if you don’t know her writing and it’s the book to read if you’re a bit bored of her other books. It’s different and I liked it.

One of the key reasons for me coming back to Armentrout’s writing is the simple fact that I really like the dialogue she writes and it’s in this book too. I know, witty banter is often a bit unrealistic, no-one is that on the ball and funny all the time, but it’s nice to read.

She also managed to successfully avoid the usual love triangle. There are a couple of love interests, but it’s more a struggle for Samantha between her past and her future and figuring out who she is as opposed to two boys being in love with her.

The big thing which bothered me in this book was the whole idea that Samantha’s personality completely changed. Whilst a lot of out personality is based upon experience and memory, something she doesn’t have, I don’t think it would alter as drastically as it did in the book. I think I would have liked it if certain elements of her old personality broke through, to show she was still the same person. Everyone seemed to claim she changed when she became friends with Cassie, but I don’t believe she changed quite that much. It’s a small issue in the book, but it bothered me.

Overall, this was a good book. It’s easy to like Armentrout’s writing when it comes to this book as opposed to her paranormal romances, which appear formulaic. It has a good mystery for a YA book, a few things were glaringly obvious to me, but the writing and story made up for any predictability and it could be easy attributed to the fact you have a naïve protagonist with amnesia.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? And have you ever found yourself having a complete different opinion than you expected?