21 August 2017

The Hate U Give // It’s A Must Read For Everyone

The Hate U Give
Published: 6th April 2017
Source: Bought
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
My Rating:
Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl's struggle for justice. Movie rights have been sold to Fox, with Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games) to star.
A book about fighting for what's right has never felt more apt than right now. I mean, the past few weeks has once more demonstrated that racial equality has not been achieved and it has never been more obvious than in the US. I would go into my rant about the racism demonstrated by the white supremacist nazis who were protesting but I don’t want to work myself up to rage about it. I don’t need to when this book will help fire up that feeling of outrage.

This book has been raved about and hyped up and I was so wary about picking it up and being disappointed so it is safe to say I am thrilled it met all expectations and firmly placed itself as a must read for YA lovers (and book lovers in general). It’s an eye-opening read that will hit you in the feels and it’s certainly one I believe everyone should be reading. I should have read it far sooner but it’s sad to see even after the Black Lives Matter movement has been alive and well for a while it’s a book we still need today as there are still people out there who hold racist beliefs and whose voices are still being heard and not talked down enough.

I wasn’t sure how to talk about this book. I’ve tried three times to write a review which fully captures why this book is important and how it packed such a punch and I’ve been failing epically. At first I thought about writing five reasons why you should read, but there are far too many good reasons to read than that. Then I tried to write my normal review and couldn’t find the write words to explain why this book is good. I kept getting drawn off into tangents and I began talking politics and it all went wrong then. And so I’ve been sat staring as screen with about three different takes on this book all in one post. I’m going to try and be concise. Wish me luck.

This book was eye opening for me. I was aware of the struggles which were on going in America (and around the world, race is not an exclusively US struggle) and I knew about the Black Lives Matter movement. I was even aware that racial profiling was done by the police. I know the statistics for the number of black lives taken by the police last year and I know that more black people are killed by the police than in terror attacks. I know the statistics but actually reading a book where this happens is very different.

Angie Thomas speaks from a place of knowledge in this book. As her acknowledgements say, she grew up in an area very similar to Starr and had similar troubles reconciling herself at home and that at school as she had two very different personas. She knows the struggle of getting out of a poor neighbourhood and making her way in the world and you can see her experiences shining through on the page. You heard it in the way that Starr is viewed by those in her neighbourhood as seeing herself above them as she doesn’t hang out with them as much now she’s at a private school. You see it how she modulates her own self to fit better with her rich, white friends at her private school. There are certain phrases and speech patterns she won’t use so she doesn’t come across as an angry black girl. She is viewed as inherently cool by her white friends simply because she is black she must know what is cool whilst with her black friends at home she isn’t cool. She hangs back. The perception of her in both places is very different. I wouldn’t have even thought about it but it’s something which people do to fit. I know it’s now the same but we all alter ourselves from at home to how we act in a professional environment, like work. We alter ourselves slightly to better fit in. Starr has to do that in everyday life. Seeing her reconcile her two selves into one through the book was interesting. Especially as it was triggered by her witnessing the police shooting a friend and it being a spoken about topic both at home and at school meant her two worlds collided when she had managed to keep them very separate before that.

The skill at which Thomas shines a light on everyday things you don’t even notice was amazing as well. For me, getting pulled over by the police would be nerve-wracking (it’s the police, it’s always a daunting experience) but only in the way you mentally catalogue anything you’ve done wrong and try reassure yourself you’re not guilty. Not because you fear how the police will react to you and whether or not you have to fear the police themselves. Not because you fear they will look at the colour of your skin and you will be at risk. The fact that this is a normal occurrence for many a person and they have a reason to fear not because they’ve done something wrong but simply because the colour of their skin is shocking. It was not comfortable to acknowledge that although we like to believe we are beyond such thing racism is still obvious in the everyday and people get treated differently due to the colour of their skin. That has been very obvious in recent weeks seeing white folks gathering with firearms in a public place and there has been no rollout of the army whilst when black people protested for the killing of someone from their community there have been curfews and a large police presence.

It is not always comfortable seeing Starr’s friends and the way which they act and some of the comments said. I wasn’t always a fan of Starr’s boyfriend, especially with some of the comments he made… but he was good at demonstrating incorrect beliefs and when being taught why they are incorrect. Like the comments about black names being weird and then Starr and her friends demonstrating that in fact white names are weird (different cultures people!) and white people insistence that they split up (fatal horror film choice you should never make and it made me laugh when this then happened in a book I was reading, guess what everyone ended up captured!). Those lighter moments which highlighted comments which are racist but made fun of them were great because those are the comments people are likely to make. That fun interaction of learning about different cultures was good and it was fun and it meant this book never came across like it was preaching at you.

This is just a brilliant book. It’s brilliantly written and it’s smart. It talks about relevant issues in the world and thus should be read by everyone. For me it gave a different perspective and it taught me knew things. It led me to question my immediate response to events like a police shooting and reminded me that there are people involved and now be too quick to believe everything being said on the news. It will make you laugh and make you cry and make you care about all these characters and want to keep them safe. You will rage at the injustices seen and cheer on the small moments of success. When a character learns they’re being racist and stops you will want to let out a small cheer. And when someone is being an idiot you will want to smack them upside the head for being dumb. It’s chock full of all that good stuff I like in a book and I will be trying to force everyone I know to give this a read.

Have you read The Hate U Give? What did you think?

20 August 2017

Sunday Summary // 20.08.2017

Sunday Summary
This week has been a good week. You may be shocked to hear that as I so often complain or grumble or despair at how tired I feel. I am tired and I did have some long days but I am feeling positive at the end of this week which means I deem it a success.

Work has been work. I mean, it’s had its usual ups and downs, you know? It has been a good week and I left work feeling happy on Friday. It may be me trying to be positive because I know next week will be hell as my supervisor has the week off so guess who is the most experienced member of my team that week? Yep, lucky me, all the questions and responsibility and none of the pay benefits. It’s only for a week, at least, and I’ll have a few days off as well after that.

We’ve had builders in at home this week so our house looks surprisingly dusty and it’s a little weird. My parents are moving the living room downstairs so we’ve had new doors put in that lead out to the garden and a wall has been knocked out. Lots or plastering has been done and hopefully, we’ll get new flooring next week. It’s quite exciting but yeah, lots of dusting needs to be done. I am not looking forward to the cleanup job. I am looking forward to a living room leading on to a garden. It’ll be great for when everyone is home and we’re doing things.

I intended to get lots done this weekend. I intended to do lots of reading and blogging and generally be crazy productive but instead, I binge watched Marvel’s The Defenders because that’s how I roll. I never managed to finish Iron Fist but this Marvel series definitely redeemed things a bit. The storyline was good and the 8 episodes meant I didn’t feel too guilty about finishing it all in a day. I am in love with the dynamic between Matt and Jessica in it. They are opposites but they are fun together. Definitely, hope to see more of them in future series.

What I’ve Been Reading

Leviathan WakesRituals
Well, I intended to read a lot more than I did. I restarted Leviathan Wakes because I borrowed it from my brother and he raved about this series. I’m enjoying it but it’s a slow read for me. I think the length is putting me off but it definitely fits in with the side quest as ‘Grind’ as it has been a bit of a grind to read so far. In a good way. I also got my copy of Rituals this week and I was so damn excited to get reading. It definitely met expectations but the more I think on it the more I get frustrated that there wasn’t more. It wasn’t anywhere close to being a disappointment but I definitely wanted more, I think that’s my issue with it. I’ve got about a dozen reviews I want to write and this is one of them.

New To Me

SteadfastIrresistible YouThe Fifth SeasonRituals
You know that spending ban I spoke about? I didn’t exactly succeed. I mean, it began with my preorder of Rituals arriving (I do not regret that one) and then a couple of romances (because I am a sucker for having all the romance lurking on my Kindle) they were both going cheap and one click is just too easy sometimes. And finally, The Fifth Season, I saw it for £2 at The Works and a girl just can’t say no to a book at that price, especially when it’s one I’ve been wanting to read for a while. I know I shouldn’t have bought these books but #noregrets!

#TheReadingQuest Progress

#thereadingquest
I’ve read one and a half books for this quest (Leviathan Wakes & Rituals). I’ve boosted my EXP and HP, though. If the spreadsheet I’m using to track my progress is to be believed anyway. I had delusions of progressing through more than one of the quest paths. I would be shocked if I managed that to be honest.

How has your week been? Anyone else participating in #TheReadingQuest? What books you been reading lately?

18 August 2017

My Thoughts // Do Some Storylines Only Work In Certain Genres?

My Thoughts_zpsv3m9csox.png
Captive Prince8 Prince's Gambit9 Kings RisingBlackbird
I had been intending to review the Captive Prince trilogy for a very long while but found it difficult to summarise my thoughts on it. I’ve still got a half finished review of it in my drafts folder. Give it a year and those reviews may see the light of day. I found a lot of the story amazing and blazed through that series in a couple of days (I seriously could not put those books down). I will be placing them firmly in my favourites and even though I paid far more than is reasonable to get copies of the second two books in the series (the first I got from the library) I am completely glad I bought and read them and will undoubtedly read again sometime soon.

I recognise there were issues with the book, though, and my biggest one, outside of the ending, is the fact that the romance is a captor/captive romance and there is such a power imbalance happening in it. Power imbalances in romances have to be dealt with carefully because as soon as one person could be accused of using their position of power to force them on to another then it gets iffy. Add in the fact that one character is held captive and it then could be interpreted as Stockholm syndrome and that’s even worse because it adds a creepy element into the whole thing.

When reading the Captive Prince trilogy I was totally behind the romance because it’s so very slow burn and developed through three books. It doesn’t feel like Stockholm syndrome but instead that the characters are letting down their guard, getting to know one another and falling in love. All of it went together so well and I was there for it 100%. I came to read a contemporary book which had a similar premise of a man buying a woman and possessing her and the romance which developed between the two. That book was Blackbird and I had a very different reaction to it. I was immediately bothered that language was used of someone ‘possessing’ or ‘owning’ another. And really as soon as money was exchanged all I could think was that human trafficking was bad and I so was not there for the romance. I mean, it just screamed Stockholm syndrome. It took me a really long time to let the romance grow on me and although I liked the characters together I would have liked them far better if there hadn’t been that power imbalance. I mean, she didn’t even see other people for ages and was never allowed out alone. She really saw no one but him so there was no doubt she would fall for him as she had no human comparison. All of it made me feel a bit blech.

Why is it I felt so different to a similar storyline in a contemporary read and a fantasy one?

That’s easy, the fantasy read was removed from reality. It was set in a different world where the possession of people and use as slaves was accepted and it wasn’t real. It may have helped that both characters were men so physically there wasn’t the same power difference. In fact, the slave was the stronger of the two based on sheer physicality and brute strength. Whilst in the contemporary setting a woman was taken off of the streets, from her job, and forced into human trafficking only to be purchased by a man and forced to accept him. To feel comfortable around him by proving she is ok with him seeing her naked. And repeatedly she is forced into situations where she could potentially be raped and the man who bought her proves he could have her if he wanted. In that situation I felt disgusted and didn’t like any romance developing.

I am of course basing these opinions off of what I remember of both books and it has been a little while since I read each but I found a captive romance only works when it’s taken outside of reality. In the modern day you immediately jump to the conclusion there is a psychological bond forming between captor and captive that would never develop otherwise. It feels forced and it’s wrong. In a fantasy context you can overlook these things a little. Or at least I could. The same issues exist but I think my biggest issue was the possession of another human. When this happens in a society where slavery is accepted you can get it but in the modern world slavery and the possession of people is not the norm and so my dilemma began.

So, as you can see. Two very similar storylines but as soon as you alter the setting it gets interpreted in my mind in a very different way. Does anyone else have moments like this where they find themselves disliking a storyline they loved in another book all because of the genre it’s written in?

Does anyone else have a similar reaction or is this just me? Does context matter for certain storylines to work?

15 August 2017

North To You // Nick Forced A Fun Romance All About Food On Me

1. North To You
Published: 5th June 2017

Source: Bought

Genre: Romance, Contemporary

My Rating:
In this warmhearted and charming debut from Tif Marcelo, a food truck chef and her long lost Army love clash when they cross paths in San Francisco.

Camille Marino has got a full plate. As the sole guardian of her eighteen-year-old sister and the head chef and owner of a food truck, she’s used to life being a juggling act. With food to cook, social media accounts to manage, and a little sister to look after, she doesn’t have time for much else.

That is, until Drew Bautista walks back into her life.

Drew is Camille’s former high school crush and he returns to San Francisco to repair his relationship with his father before he ships out for deployment. By helping his father renovate his failing Filipino restaurant, he hopes to win back his respect. But when sparks fly between Drew and Camille—his father’s major competition and sworn enemy—Drew is conflicted. Should he join his father in the war against her food truck? Or surrender to the woman who’s given him a second chance at love?
I need a shelf on Goodreads called ‘Books That Are Nick’s Fault’ because this would be on it. Seriously, she just tweeted about it and I was there buying it. I mean, also, the cover was cute and I remember seeing it on Smart Bitches (that’s a whole other shelf I need on Goodreads) and so I bought it and started reading almost immediately. I’m so glad I give in so easily. One thing I have learnt is Nick knows good romance. Like the best kind of romance.

So, North To You is set in San Francisco and in the world of food in San Francisco. Camille has set out to follow her dreams and is trying to make herself a success as a chef and owner of a food truck. She is working hard to support her and her sister and has time for nothing else. She is pursuing her dreams, after all. So when she bumps into an old high school flame, Drew, she doesn’t have time for him despite having a whole heap of unresolved issues there since she disappeared without a word Luckily for her Drew isn’t taking no for an answer and sparks fly left, right and centre. I mean hot damn!

I think this book worked for me because Camille and her hard headedness sucked me in (I love a woman who knows what she wants and has a few trust issues) and then there was Drew. Drew was a sweet cinnamon roll, too good for this world. He was cute and so damn irresistible. I got how Camille struggled to resist him because I wouldn’t have been able to.

There were the usual obstacles to the relationship. Drew ended up holding back a few things which made Camille doubt him (I do hate a liar when it comes to romance but even that couldn’t make me dislike him). And Camille and her trust issues, they would normally frustrate me but the girl just made me love her more because she had been through so damn much and she just wanted to give her sister her dream and have her own. Then there was the fact she was competing with Drew’s dad and it’s hard competing with family, isn’t it?

If you’re in the mood for a book which will make you hungry (I want to go to San Francisco and eat all the food!) then this is the book for you. if you like a good old second chance romance with a cute couple who really should have gotten together far sooner if life hadn’t gotten in the way then check it out!

Do you know someone who convinces you to buy all the books? Is their name Nick? I feel your pain. And what was the last book you bought because someone recommended it and it blew you away?

13 August 2017

Sunday Summary // 13.08.2017

Sunday Summary
Guys, you don’t even know how exhausted I feel. This week has been the longest week and for no apparent reason. I mean, I’ve been busy I’ve had lots to do. I feel like I haven’t stopped and so time should have flown by but work is dragging. Maybe it’s because I spend the first half hour of my working day alone eating breakfast and reading the paper, it’s a little too quiet. I don’t know why but the week has dragged and that always sucks.

I was out last Saturday if you guys recall and I actually wasn’t hungover the next day. Get a few drinks down me (and one very tasty one with vodka and jam in it which was the bomb) and I was dancing to cheesy pop music with folks from work and having a great time. I had my usual meal from my favourite takeaway before heading home and I was in bed and asleep by 3 am. It was basically a great night out and then I spent Sunday just relaxing (and not blogging… oops?).

Some awful stuff then happened around where I live and to people I know and so that sucked. But then work distracted me which is always good. We’ve been so busy trying to train folks and I am having to do some of it because I’ve been there a while and it’s exhausting I’m exhausted. I think the bad stuff has added into my long week and then every time you turn on the news Donald Trump is doing something to try and get folks killed because that’s what he does. Or you hear about crappy things happening in America that really shouldn’t happen in 2017. I’m not surprised I haven’t felt more positive.

I wouldn’t have left the house Saturday if I hadn’t got another appointment at the opticians (yes I have my new glasses). I also am trialling new contact lenses so I may start wearing those on a more regular basis if I find these to be comfy. We’ll see how they go. it was weird, though. The optician put them in my eyes for me. It’s definitely the weirdest experience at the opticians of recent memory.

It hasn’t been all negative, though. One of my friends is getting married towards the end of the year and planning for the hen do has been under way. I am so excited as it turns out we’re renting a house down in Bath for a weekend! I’ve never been to Bath but the place is stunning and filled with history and we so better be going out exploring during the day for this thing because that is literally all I want to do whilst there. Is that wrong of me? I think not. I mean, who goes to Bath and doesn’t experience the history?

What I’ve Been Reading

The Hate U Give4. Beyond the Highland Mist5. The Female of the Species
Okay, so I have actually had a pretty good reading week. I dithered over picking up a book Saturday as my reading challenge starts Sunday so I just indulged in fanfiction (which has inspired me to think of another post to write but damn I have so many half finished post ideas of late). I only read three books this week (which isn’t bad, but I had wanted to read more) and one of those I skim read in parts because it turns out I wasn’t as in the mood for crazy sauce romance as I thought and the alpha male hero had me fed up (Beyond the Highland Mist, just FYI). I did read two really good books, though. The Hate U Give was insanely good and hit me in the feels all over the place (seriously, the number of times I teared up in public was embarrassing, warning label guys!) and then The Female of the Species got me all kinds of riled up because it talked about important issues and just. Ugh! I mean, I struggled to find the right words for it being so good. It was awesome and amazing and I feel like I should link to a whole bunch of articulate reviews to explain why.

New To Me

The Watchmaker's DaughterLove and Gelato4. Beyond the Highland Mist
I admit I got new books and I am on a spending ban. I did only spend 99p in total, though. That’s pretty damn good going if I do say so myself. The Watchmaker’s Daughter was free and I liked the cover so hopefully, it will be a Kindle books I remember to read. Love & Gelato is free for Kindle and was iBooks free book of the week so I got that. Beyond the Highland Mist is the only book I purchased and it wasn’t great but oh well.
Before We Were StrangersExit, Pursued By A BearMind GamesNoteworthy5. The Female of the Species
I have begun using the tag #booksfortradeuk and I have completed a few swaps in the past week and they all arrived in the post this week. I did pretty good and got a bunch of books which have been on my TBR for a while. I’ve already read The Female of the Species and loved it so hopefully, I will love the rest just as much.
InvictusJuniper Lemon's Happiness IndexHortense and the Shadow
And I also got a few ARCs. I really need to cut down on the ARCs. These might be the last until after my holiday just so I can take some time to catch up. I am insanely excited to read Invictus, though. I got Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index because I’ve heard some good things and the cover is really pretty. I basically can’t say no. As for Hortense and the Shadow… I kind of accidentally got it. You know you have emails from Netgalley and you click the link? I got auto approved for it and clicked the link. It’s a picture book and the artwork looks amazing. You guys may get to see my first every picture book review!

So there is my week. I’m exhausted and it’s been long and weird and I hate watching the news of late. It hasn’t been all bad and the books have been good. Anyone read anything good or have a similar accidental Netgalley story to tell?

10 August 2017

Thirteen Reasons Why // Where I Watched The TV Show

636286444919284462-581385395_13 reasons why
As I said in my review for the book, the TV show is what motivated me to pick up the book in the first place. I was also aware of the problematic nature of the show. It probably should have put me off but I have heard positive things said about it by some so I decided to give it a chance as I did like the message of the book (the one I think the author intended for it to make) of how your actions have consequences and to put good in the world.

I wanted to examine the TV show. These are purely my opinions on what I watched. I did found the show to be just as quick as the book and it was addictive viewing. You wanted one episode more. I want to examine what the show itself was like, though. What was done well? What wasn’t? And what made me question the sanity of the producers as it should never have made it to screen? It is spoiler filled, I will not claim otherwise so be warned!

The Good

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I knew the TV show would have differences to the book. It was to be expected as the book is quite a short read. To properly adapt it to screen things would have to be altered and it had to have more added to it to really have the same impact as the book. I do think the writing of the show was good. Now, Clay doesn’t simply listen to the tapes over one night but instead over the course of days and he no longer compulsively listens but is hesitant and struggles with what he hears. I liked this change to him as it does fit in with the nice guy persona he has. He isn’t eager to listen to the voice of a dead girl who says she has sent out tapes to those she blames for her suicide. He wouldn’t be eager to hear her reasons why as he is mourning her loss still.

I also liked the storyline of Hannah’s parents and their lawsuit against Hannah’s school. I enjoyed the entire storyline about how bullying is prevalent in the school and not enough is done to prevent it. It is almost allowed and the toxic culture of bullying encouraged as those who are popular and doing the bullying are sports stars and athletes. It added another element to the TV show and meant that although I knew the basic storyline there were still things there to surprise me and make the show feel it’s own.

I really liked the fact the impact the tapes had on people was explored far more because it was a shitty thing to do. I never liked how Hannah made those tapes and pointed fingers over who was to blame for her choice. I understand that things built up for her choice and the tapes were a good way of exploring that whilst having everything set in the aftermath of her suicide but I felt like there should have been a greater mental impact on those who listened to them. You definitely get to see that in the show. Clay suffered from anxiety and seeing how the tapes made that worse for him was really smart. And the other characters, as well. you see how the tapes later affect their actions and the choices they make. It was intelligent and I do respect the show for not making it seem like listening to the tapes of a dead girl would be easy.

I totally love the show for giving my the character of Tony, as well. He was in the book and he did also have the tapes in the books to send out if anyone didn’t follow through. He played a far bigger part in the show, though. He was there supporting Hannah’s parents in their lawsuit and he played a big part in supporting Clay, as well. It was obvious Clay struggled with what he listened to and I really enjoyed seeing a support system develop for Clay as he appeared to have few friends. Tony was such a great character. He wasn’t perfect but he was so easy to like and so I loved that he got to play a big part.

The Bad

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The changes weren’t all good, though. I really liked one scene in the book where Hannah got a photo with Courtney (I think it was her anyway) and you see Hannah getting her own back in a small way. I liked that little photo snippet and I was annoyed it was gone. It was the same with another alteration, the One Dollar Valentine’s thing was slightly different. Clay never got Hannah on his list because he did it in character and I wanted that. I wanted it to not be Clay was too chicken to call her but that she simply wasn’t on his list. That alteration changes how you see Clay and I didn’t like that.

I also felt like that because the show was made to take place over a longer period of time and you see the characters in their everyday lives far more that most came across far worse than they did in the book. I mean, the show and the book are filled with terrible people but I felt like I disliked them more in the show because I saw more of them. I mean, Jessica seems like a bitch and her boyfriend Justin was awful. I didn’t like seeing the cliquey thing that was going on.

I also didn’t like that everyone seemed to know about the tapes. That they created a gang to bully Clay because they didn’t want the contents of the tapes to come out and impact them and their lives. It fed into the bullying culture that was obviously prevalent in the school but it also meant that Clay seemed to have a worse time of it and the experience of listening to them was worse.

I know in the book there was no mention of mental health and about how Hannah was obviously suffering from depression or other mental health problems to lead to her decision but I hoped the show would do something to improve upon that. After all, when the book was released less was said about mental health and the book was revolutionary for discussing suicide at all let alone broaching the subject of mental health. Yet, not one word was mentioned that even implied any mental health problems with Hannah. Sure, there are hints of it such as how her moods were either way up or way down and she did showcase signs of suicidal thoughts but never was there mention of there being more to it and that annoyed me.

The Ugly

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Look, my biggest issue with the show is how graphic it was with everything. Both rape and suicide occur so it was never going to be sunshine and rainbows but as a show targeted at a teen audience I don’t think it should have been as full on as it was. I felt incredibly uncomfortable in the rape scenes, far too much was shown. I think seeing less and having it occur more off camera could have had the same impact without being so triggering for many who watched because it was a damned uncomfortable watch.

That suicide scene, though! There were warnings on the episodes where graphic things happen when they could be triggering but as the episodes are long by the time the scenes appear it’s not enough. And the suicide was far too much. It made me feel physically ill and I have a friend who is extremely uncomfortable with anything which involves the cutting of the wrists and I would have told her to stop watching so for anyone who felt the same way would definitely of found that scene triggering. It would have been better to fade out and see the after math of her being discovered. I was too uncomfortable to find it emotional like I should have done. And considering it shows her cutting her wrists in a way which causes maximum blood loss that should never have been shown. It was just awful and I was expecting it so I can only imagine what it would have been like if you’d started the show based on everyone talking about it.

***

The show wasn’t as bad as I expected but it could have done far more to maximise the impact. I will probably watch season 2 as I am interested in the next direction it will go but it’s much like the book, I could never recommend it to others.

08 August 2017

The House of Secrets // A Beautiful Read Which Highlighted Something Rarely Discussed

House of Secrets
The House Of Secrets – Sarra Manning
Published: 10th August 2017 (paperback)
Source: Netgalley
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Historical
My Rating:
Every home has a story to tell . . .

An ordinary house on an ordinary street, built in 1936 and never lived in. Its rooms might be empty, but this house is full of secrets.

When Zoe and Win, raw and reeling from a recent tragedy, move into their new home it's meant to be a fresh start and a way to mend the holes in their relationship.

But pushed to the back of a cupboard is a suitcase that's been gathering dust for eighty years. Inside is a wedding dress, letters and a diary all belonging to a woman called Libby. And there's something else in the suitcase, something that echoes Zoe's own pain.

Zoe follows Libby's trail from Paris to Spain on the brink of Civil War to secret trysts in London, and as Libby finds the courage to live and love again, Zoe begins to let go of her own grief.

But when Libby's story takes a darker turn, Zoe becomes increasingly obsessed with discovering what really happened all those years ago. Because if Libby managed to get her happy ever after then maybe Zoe and Win can too . . .
I am a massive fan of Sarra Manning. She was actually one of the first authors who I discovered when I got into teen books. When I saw this book I knew I had to read it. Especially as it looked to be in the same kind of style as Manning's last book, After The Last Dance. I liked the fact it was set in the past and the present with two storylines in tandem with characters linked in unknown ways. I do think that I loved After the Last Dance more. I connected with the characters better in that and the book destroyed me but this one was brilliantly written and impacted in a different way.

I will say before you continue, this review will contain spoilers and it’s the only way I know how to fully talk about this book so I apologise now. I want to be able to talk about everything. Now, let’s continue.

I loved the present day story of Zoe and Win moving into a rundown project house which was a true fixer upper. Their discovery of a suitcase and a diary owned by Libby was brilliant and seeing the two go through the heartbreaks that they had was amazing. I mean, they broke me, I almost cried at some moments of their relationship. I adored Win and how he wasn't perfect but he was so utterly in love with Zoe and he was so scared of losing control of his life and losing her. He was not the perfect man but he was the one I would have wanted to.

As for Libby and her story, she was fun and enigmatic and I adored her. She loved so easily and even when she was at her lowest she had more personality than many of the men she loved. I felt for her throughout her ordeals and I wished she had had a better go of things in London because most of the men in her life were beasts, even Freddy. She deserved more than she got.

The part of both the stories which I really loved was the fact both Zoe and Libby had suffered miscarriages. Both had lost a child they had never even gotten a chance to know and the way it was written about, was utterly brilliant. I think that is why I adored this book as much as I did. Miscarriages and discussions of the difficulties of both getting pregnant and being pregnant are rarely discussed. Pregnancy is only ever allowed to be a joyous fantastic thing but sometimes things go wrong. There were statistics quoted in the books that mean there will people you know who have suffered and may never have spoken about it because it is taboo. I really loved how it was written about. People were sympathetic to their plight but didn't understand and it was the kind of thing to 'move on' from. No one recognised the connection felt to that unborn child and I loved how it was acceptable to grieve what could have been. That was what stood out me.

Seeing the struggles of Libby and Zoe and Win and how they mirrored each other was truly amazing. I never felt like I cared about one story more than another and that rarely happens for me. I connected to the characters and I wanted them to get their happy ending. I don’t feel like the book went quite where I wanted it to, but then it went the way it needed to and I loved that. I did predict a plot twist, though. It felt very obvious but I still liked it.

As a whole, I adored this book. Once it got going I was hooked and every time real life got in the way of reading it I was upset. It may not have put me through the emotional ringer like After the Last Dance but it did hit me hard and it will stay with me for a while yet.

Have you read this book or anything else by Sarra Manning? Do you enjoy stories told through two parallel stories?

06 August 2017

Sunday Summary // 06.08.2017

Sunday Summary
Welcome one and all to another Sunday. It’s been a busy blogging week for me with lots of posts going up all week. I’ve been a busy bee and I think it may be a busy August for me, but we shall see.

This week has been… I don’t know. I’ve done lots of holiday planning and shopping and that has been lovely but I do feel I’m getting a little boring with my holiday. It’s the only things I have to look forward to right now! I mean, there are other things to look forward to but I’m going abroad and I’m excited for that fact!

Anyway, apart from holiday shopping it’s been a quiet week. I’ve seen my bestie who is finally getting the house she put an offer in for about a year ago! She’ll be all moved by the end of the month and I am so excited for her. It’s scary that my friends are doing these grown up things but also very exciting. I cannot wait to help her move and decorate. It’s going to be a blast, but it will mean my weekends will shortly be a lot busier. We shall see.

I have also signed up for a reading challenge which I am excited for. And I am attempting a spending ban for the month of August! Wish me luck because I am trying to be sensible and not spend loads of money on books when I have plenty to read and I am currently shelling out money for other things. It feels like a mature decision to make but it is damned hard to follow through with it.

I feel like I should have more to update you all on but really it’s not been a very eventful week. My work friend finished on Friday and it was sad to see him go… but I’m going out tonight with him and some other folks from work (I’m writing this up Saturday so please don’t take it personally if I don’t reply to comments on Sunday because I may be hungover). I am excited for a night out but when writing this it’s currently throwing it down with rain so I hope this won’t be the weather for the day. I may resemble a drowned rat all night otherwise.

What I’ve Been Reading

1. North To YouHouse of Secrets
It had been a quiet reading week. I intended to read three books this week but somehow other things got in the way. I did read two fantastic books, though. North To You was purchased from Nick simply pointing at it and it was a great read. More books should combine romance and food. They really should. And then I decided to read another ARC and one I was so happy to be approved for, The House of Secrets. It wasn’t completely what I was expecting but I really loved it. I love the parallel storylines and it did tug at my heartstrings so I occasionally felt like crying when reading it.

New To Me

This Adventure EndsEvery Heart a DoorwayMy Hear & Other Black HolesAn Extraordinary UnionWelcome to Night Vale
As I said, I am employing a spending ban (or trying to). I actually won employee of the month at the end of July and so I sued my giftcard to buy myself a couple of books I’d been putting off getting because the price was just so high. I got myself a copy of This Adventure Ends and Every Heart a Doorway and I am so glad I have. The hardcovers are stunning and I smile every time I see them on my shelf. Fingers crossed the books are as good as they look. I also got North To You, as I mentioned above, Nick told me to read it so I did. And then I got myself two little ebooks I probably shouldn’t have bought by I am a sucker for a cheap book. Not too bad, but still more than I should have got. And I did some book swaps on Twitter (I am determined to get rid of those books I no longer wish to read or own) and the first of those arrived. Yay for Welcome to Night Vale.
If Birds Fly BackThe Wizard of London
I also got two books from the library (oops?) but I genuinely forgot I’d put a request in for If Birds Fly Back but I will hopefully be reading it soon. I am trying not to borrow too many books from the library, 6 is manageable, right? The Wizard of London was purely an impulse borrow as it was right near the checkout machine (I’m sure that thing has a name so that’s what it is) but it will either be good or terrible. I was just drawn in by the retro fantasy cover.

Well, I should really be spending my weekend writing posts for next week and playing blog catch up but I think I want to spend it reading. Anyone else find that always happens when they plan to knuckle down with the blog? How has your week been?

05 August 2017

#TheReadingQuest // Sign Up

the-reading-quest-sign-up-post
I am not usually one for reading challenges. I suck at them because I struggle reading within set parameters and find the restrictions chafe (when at any other time I would love to read certain books). In the end, I can work with shorter ones and those that which can hold my interest. So along comes Aentee with the best reading challenge ever (I mean, all the ones she does sound awesome, I was going to do the Pokemon one but life got in the way) but when she hinted at a game inspired challenge on Twitter I knew it was one for me. So here comes The Reading Quest. The video game inspired reading challenge I didn’t even know I wanted.
The Reading Quest Becky
There are four paths to take in this and I’ve chosen the one which will be easiest for me and I will be a mage. It means I can focus on fantasy books on my quest and try and clear a few things off of my shelves.
reading-quest-board1
My quest is simple, I must read book matching those categories and will earn points doing so. I will try and earn XP but this is more having a guided path to clear my TBR.
  • A book with a one word title: Wintersong/Rituals
  • A book that contains magic: The Bone Witch
  • A book based on mythology: A Star Touched Queen
  • A book set in a different world: Strange the Dreamer
  • The first book of a series:  Flame in the Mist

Side Quests


  • Potions – A book concocted by 2 authors: Ilona Andrews book… one I’ve not read?
  • Multiplayer – Buddy read a book: Danya and Nick, I’ll be hitting you both up for this one
  • Grind – A book with 500+ pages: Leviathan Wakes (will it count since I read the first chapter and gave up?)
  • Time Warp – A book set in the past or the future: Ivory and Bone, or any historical romance on my Kindle.
  • Open World – Read whatever you want:
  • Respawn – Read a book you previously DNF: Miss Peregrine’s? Bascially any of my huge tower of books I will read
  • Expansion – Read a companion novel or short story:
  • Mini-Game – Read a graphic novel, novella, or poem collection: Classic Gambit or Lumberjanes volume 1
  • Animal Companion – Book referencing an animal in the title:

This is still a work in progress, I'm figuring stuff out and I will hopefully progress on to all the quests and conquer my TBR. Feel free to offer suggestions of books. Are you doing any reading challenges?

03 August 2017

Looking Forward // August 2017

Looking Forward_zps3hettxt8.png
This month is a tough month for looking forward to books as I am attempting to employ a small spending ban until I go away (when I will be treating myself to all the romance and beach reads I can get my hands on). I want to read some more of what’s on my shelf so I am taking part in a reading challenge (more on that in my next post). I have plenty of books I want this month, both new releases and official UK releases, so we’ll see. I have a whole heap that are must buys and I’m left questioning when I’ll actually get to buy them.

The Must Buys (And Will Buys)

The Epic Crush of Genie LoThe Gentleman's Guide to Vice and VirtueRamona BlueRituals


This is a recent addition to my TBR from bloggers who have loved it. I am eagerly awaiting the release and will dither endlessly about preordering. I shouldn’t… but I really want to.


Okay, this is the second appearance of this book here but the UK hardback is being released and this is one I may accidentally on purpose purchase because all the good things have been said. All of them!


Another second feature here, this time around it’s Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy. I’ve recently read Dumplin’ and when I heard there was a hardback being released here in the UK I got all of a dither. This is one of those reads which sounds brilliant, looks brilliant, and will be mine.


The last of the Cainsville books is being released! Kelley Armstrong us queen, I adore her books and as my library is taking it’s sweet ass time about getting this in I’ve preordered myself a copy (her books are always pricey here in the UK so this is a treat for myself).

The Already Acquired

Leave the night onHouse of Secrets
Just two books I’ve already acquired. One is Leave The Night On, an enjoyable fake romance set down south and a damn enjoyable read. I really liked it and read it really fast. The second is a Sarra Manning book, The House of Secrets. I really like it so far and I think it’s going to be another brilliant book told through dual storylines set in the past and the present. It’s shaping up to be heartbreaking and memorable.

The Maybes

Kissing Max HoldenThe Secret History of usFreshers
how to disappearWish You Were Here
As you can see there are a few books I’m dithering over and they are mostly YA. I find I have lots of books I’ve heard about and thought ‘that sounds cool’ only to find myself going off of them later on. I’ve not been as interested in reading YA of late, I’ve definitely found myself being a bit more selective with those books so I will hold off for all the reviews and see how it goes. Freshers is a UKYA book, though, so that one may get a chance out of all of them.

Have you read any of the books I’m looking forward to? Which are worth breaking my spending ban for and which should I wait for the library to get for me?