31 July 2018

Monthly Wrap Up // June & July 2018

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I missed doing a monthly wrap up post last month because I got hella distracted and by the time I realised I’d not done my monthly wrap up we were two weeks into July, Isn’t it crazy how that happens and now July is over and I don’t know where this year is going. I mean I go to New York in a little over 5 weeks, how crazy is that! This year has flown by, both good and bad.

I think the theme for the past two months is very much heatwave. Seriously, all us Brits has done is talk about the weather. The weather, our lack of air conditioning, places we know with air conditioning, and the rumour that the heatwave will break with storms coming. It’s boring but that’s how we roll. Rumour has it we’re gonna get another mini heatwave soon, in case you’re wondering.

Can’t Stop Listening

If You’re Over Me – Years & Years
Over Again – Mike Shinoda
Making it Right – Remember Sports

June/July Reads

5 Stars
49. Radiance51. Anyone But YouThe Kiss QuotientWicked and the WallflowerHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
4.5 Stars
Barbed Wire Heart7307504ForbiddenWish_BOM.indd71. The Serpent
4 Stars
57. The Guy Next DoorHeart's Blood54. Mr Perfect717926810428803Spinning Silver69. Real Kind of Love72. The One You Can't Forget
3.5 Stars
53. Will You Still Want Me62. PS I Like You63. It Had To Be You7179272
3 Stars
56. The Governess Affair
11141590From Twinkle With Love

June/July Posts

How has the past couple of months been for you? Any favourite reads?

29 July 2018

Sunday Summary // 29.07.2018

Sunday Summary
Oh wow, guys, how the devil are you? I know, it has been forever since I did one of these posts! I didn’t intend to stop giving you my weekly updates (because I love telling you guys these intimate life details, it’s sort of like free therapy) but I got all kinds of busy and fell a little out of love with blogging because I wasn’t reading and basically fell off the face of the earth. You know… the usual, right?

Anyway, what was happening the last time we spoke? I don’t even know so I'll give you the basic life update. I went to London with friends with Taylor Swift last month, that was a whole heap of fun. Taylor was amazing and even though I was a million miles away from her and could not see much I was totally into the whole night. I danced and sang along and remembered why I love Taylor Swift, she is just fun and my friends and I had a laugh.

Also, I have been suffering through the UK heatwave which is just about ending (I hope) so I’ve been lounging about in actual sunshine in the UK while dreaming about having a home with air conditioning. I even have a little bit of a tan going on, which is impressive for me because I am so pasty white I almost always only burn. I am impressed with my slightly darker shade of white I have going on currently. Although I am actually bored of basically living in shorts outside of work? Anyone else get fed up with having to wear the same thing because of the weather? Just me? That’s cool.

Erm, apart from that it’s been quite quiet. I’ve been going through a truly awful few weeks/months of reading but I think my slump has passed. I spent a long time just not fancying reading anything but slowly I’m back into enjoying reading, which is nice. I still find I don’t read anywhere near as much as I used to, which sucks. Isn’t it strange how your reading habits can change all the time? I actually don’t think I’ll read much over 100 books this year, which is unusual for me. I have spent my time where I’ve not been reading hanging out with friends and doing real-world things, though. I am enjoying getting out a bit more, I hope to spend more time seeing friends and having small adventures.

Blogging-wise, I have been out of it. I think I needed to blog less to get more excited about it again. I won’t be posting like crazy but I’ve genuinely missed talking about books. I have friends who read but I find it’s never the same as speaking with you guys. There just isn’t the same passion there. I do feel like I’ve missed all the new books coming out of late, though, so tell me all the new books you’re excited for.

What I’ve Been Reading

I have to say, it’s been so long since I last did one of these posts I couldn’t decide if I should recap all the books since my last post (like my monthly recap posts) or if I should instead just show the ones from recently.I mean, the last time I did a Sunday post was 27 books ago… that’s a lot of books. I think I’ll save the full recap for my monthly post next week. Below are what I’ve been reading for the past two weeks.
Spinning Silver69. Real Kind of LoveForbiddenWish_BOM.indd71. The Serpent72. The One You Can't Forget
Now I’m pretty damn pleased with my reading from the past couple of weeks because I’ve enjoyed every one of these books. Spinning Silver wasn’t exactly what I expected but it was good. See my review for that one for full details. I forgot I preordered Real Kind of Love but it provided me with exactly the romance I wanted in the form of a lovely fake relationship book. The Forbidden Wish has been sat on my shelf for forever! Or two years and I finally got to reading it and why did I wait on reading this standalone retelling? Definitely check it out. The Serpent I read for a blog tour and it’s the first book I’ve read in a day in such a long time. I loved it, it was exactly the kind of writing I’ve come to expect from Sarah Fine and although there were unanswered questions I’m hoping there’ll be good things to come in those books. And finally, there was The One You Can’t Forget. I actually didn’t expect to enjoy that as much as I did but it was utterly fantastic. I don’t think I knew I had a thing for men who could cook until I read that… I definitely have a thing for many who can cook in books.

New To Me

This was kind of difficult for me to put together… I’ve gotten so many books since last we spoke, you know? I think these are the most recent acquisitions, though.
Jade CityThe Loneliest Girl in the UniverseRunemarksSave the DateCirceThe Accidentals
There aren’t as many books as there might have been. The top four are physical copies of books I’ve bought lately and the bottom two are ebooks. I know I’ve missed a few (more than a few) but these are the books I remember buying and I cannot wait to get started on them all. I haven’t gotten any ARCs lately though and I’m pretty pleased with that. I have so many ARCs I need to get to.

What have you guys been doing since I’ve been gone? What have been your favourite books? And how has everyone been coping with what seems like a worldwide heat wave?

26 July 2018

Spinning Silver // Why Haven’t I Read More Naomi Novik?

Spinning Silver
Published: 12th July 2018
Source: Netgalley/Purchased
Genre: Fantasy, Retelling, Fairytale
My Rating:
Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders... but her father isn't a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has loaned out most of his wife's dowry and left the family on the edge of poverty--until Miryem steps in. Hardening her heart against her fellow villagers' pleas, she sets out to collect what is owed--and finds herself more than up to the task. When her grandfather loans her a pouch of silver pennies, she brings it back full of gold.

But having the reputation of being able to change silver to gold can be more trouble than it's worth--especially when her fate becomes tangled with the cold creatures that haunt the wood, and whose king has learned of her reputation and wants to exploit it for reasons Miryem cannot understand.
I received an ARC of this book over two months ago and I was insanely excited for this book’s release got an ARC of this book but didn't get to finishing (or starting) it before my signed preorder arrived in the post. It conveniently arrived on a Friday and right as I was finishing another awesome book. I normally hate to read hardback books because I don't like to cart them to and from work. It arrived in time to be a weekend read. I didn't start it until the Saturday and pretty much devoured it in under 24 hours. I read it quickly but it did have flaws.

I’ll begin with the bad to get it out of the way. I didn't like the continually switching POV, especially as more seemed to be introduced as the book went on. I expected maybe two from the summary but the number kept increasing. I never lost track of who was narrating and the voice of each character was distinct so I was never confused as to who was narrating when. It was well done in the sense. But then often the different POV went over the same events from different perspectives. Sometimes this overlap was necessary to explain to the reader how an event was significant and that only became apparent from a different perspective. Even so, I felt like it slowed the pace of the whole story going back over the same thing again. I also think by having multiple POV it left me questioning why each of these characters was significant. I think some of the viewpoints added only a small amount to the story as a whole. The characters helped play a role in the story but not enough to justify their role in telling that story. It doesn't detract from the book, but it bothered me to some degree whilst reading.

That's my biggest complaint with the whole book really, I do not like excessive numbers of POV because I am easily confused and tend to like certain storylines more than others. Although, in this, all the storylines converged into one of the grand finale, which I did enjoy and that made it quite interesting. I just wish I’d  been more prepared for the multiple POVs from the summary and I might’ve been more okay with it.

I will say I loved how this book is very much focused upon the women's story. Irina and Miryem are the main characters really, it's their two stories which are the focus. Miryem as the moneylenders daughter who finds she is far more skilled at the job than her father ever was and the mess that gets her into and the story of Irina who gets caught up in Miryem's machinations to please a Winter King and finds herself being sent to a Tsar as his wife and the terrible secret he holds. I won't reveal too much but I will say these two stories meant both characters had a hard path of difficult decisions and both always tried to what they thought best. I didn't always agree with them or like their actions, but they did it for their family and for their people. I respected them for that, especially as they proved they were such strong female characters who could best the men around them and show they were smart and powerful, even when both weren't claimed to be beautiful or possessed a vast power to make them a chosen one to save everyone. Instead, they had intelligence and respected that.

I really loved the magical way in which Naomi Novik wrote this book as well. Uprooted felt like a fairytale to me and this was no different. It was an amalgamation of various fairytales and folklore and it was so very interesting to read. I think I preferred Uprooted for it's more natural folklore centred within the forest and there was a whole heap of political machinations occurring here which I didn't fancy. But I did enjoy how much it felt set in the past, especially as Miryem was a Jewish moneylender, as her father and grandfather were, and the book never glossed over the fear and hatred her people had experienced being driven from countries out of fear and how they were hated for their jobs with their money. They were accused of taking more than they were due and being greedy when really people were angry to see others have wanted they wanted and were angry and covetous. I won't delve into a history lesson, though. It was just really nice to see historical elements interspersed in the story.

I didn't love every element of the book but I couldn't stop reading so it wasn't all bad. Novik has a way with words and is skilled in writing a fairytale for grown ups. I preferred Uprooted but I'm sure many will love the story within the pages of this book instead, it's all a matter of personal preference really.

Have you read Naomi Novik before? And what do you think of this book?

23 July 2018

Bite Sized Books //DNF Chronicles

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I am back and I’m starting with a couple of books I’ve DNF-ed in the past few weeks. I am gradually getting better at DNF-ing books of late and I don’t always DNF for the best reasons. It’s not because a book is bad or anything, it tends to be simply because I put it down and feel no motivation to go back to until it’s been a few days and I decide to abandon all hope of finishing and just to mark it as done. Especially when I know I won’t be bothered by now knowing how a book ends. That’s the true sign I should DNF if there’s no need to know more.

You might be surprised by my reasons for DNF-ing but considering by my reading slump of late I’m all about reading only the books I can’t put down.

From Twinkle With Love
Published: 22nd May 2018
Source: Netgalley
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
My Rating: DNF-ed 20% (approx)
The next heartwarming YA romcom from Sandhya Menon, bestselling author of WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI.

Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore - if only the world would listen. So when nerdy classmate and fellow film-obsessive Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a film for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle can't wait.
The chance to showcase her artistic voice?
Dream come true.
The opportunity to get closer to longtime crush, Neil Roy- aka Sahil's twin brother?
Dream come even truer.
When Twinkle receives an email from a secret admirer - the mysterious 'N' - she is sure it's Neil, finally ready for their happy ending.
The only problem is that, in the course of their movie-making, she has found herself falling for Sahil - the wrong brother.
Twinkle soon realises that resistance is futile:
The romance she's got isn't the one she scripted...
But will it be enough?
Told through letters Twinkle writes to her favourite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, With Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

I know what you’re all thinking, I DNF-ed From Twinkle With Love?! What’s wrong with me? I was just as excited as everyone else for a new Sandhya Menon release. I thought it sounded so interesting and was totally a book I was excited to read.

And then I started it and I was still optimistic.

And then I was about 20% of the way in and I was making excuses to not read and I finally had to accept DNF-ing was the only way forward. I was not enjoying myself and I’ve always believed in DNF-ing when I’m not enjoying it.

I admit, I normally prefer to read a little bit further into a book before DNF-ing as I so believe in giving a book a fair chance… especially as a lot of books can get better the further in you get, they just need a little time to warm up. That might have been the chase for this one, but I wasn’t waiting around to find out.

The biggest problems for me were the characters. I didn’t like Twinkle all that much. I didn’t like her friend. I wasn’t even interested in Neil. And Sahil? He looked like he had the potential to be adorable just like Rishi was in his book… but I didn’t like Twinkle so I didn't stay to find out. I know Twinkle probably would have grown and developed into someone I liked but I just don’t know. I am not known for my patience and I just kept rolling my eyes at Twinkle and thinking ‘seriously’. I was probably too harsh on her really, there were things which I liked about her… but my annoyance at her overshadowed all of that.

I also didn’t like the diary style of writing. It was a diary/letter type storytelling and I didn’t realise that going in (because who has time to read book summaries nowadays?) and I think because I was expecting standard storytelling that threw me a little. And it was cute, but it also made it more difficult to connect with all the characters. Maybe this book would have worked better for me as an audiobook or something? I don’t know, but I think the writing style probably put me off a little too. It just wasn’t for me.

The book wasn’t bad. It’s not like there was anything bad about it, but it was a case of it not being for me. I think a combination of small things all piled together to make it so I simply couldn’t get into the book and had to put it to one side. It sucks, maybe the hype was too high. I’ll still be checking out Menon’s next book, though.

Published: 16th June 2011
Source: Purchased
Genre: Romance, Paranormal Romance
My Rating: Dnf-ed 40%
Half-human and half-wyr, Pia Giovanni spent her life keeping a low profile among the wyrkind and avoiding the continuing conflict between them and their Dark Fae enemies. But after being blackmailed into stealing a coin from the hoard of a dragon, Pia finds herself targeted by one of the most powerful - and passionate - of the Elder Races.

As the most feared and respected of the wyrkind, Dragos Cuelebre cannot believe someone had the audacity to steal from him, much less succeed. And when he catches the thief, Dragos spares her life, claiming her as his own to further explore the desire they've ignited in one another.

I read this because it’s been sat unread on my Kindle for about two years and then I discovered that it was on the AAR Top 100 Romance list so I really had to get reading it. I admit, I probably should have waited a little while before reading this one because I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for it but I knew I fancied some kind of romance/fantasy type read. It just sucks this one wasn’t for me.

I DNF-ed at about 40% this time around. It’s safe to say I gave this one plenty of chance. Why did I DNF? Mostly the overbearingness of the love interest, Dragos. Look, being an alpha male is no excuse for being a dick, you know? He wasn’t terrible, I’ve seen worse alpha males in books, but I just got fed up of his general maleness, I think. It’s been a little while since I DNF-ed it so I don’t remember all the specifics on the why, I just remember the alphaness got to me. And the romance was just…meh. Like, I liked Pia and I was interested in her past but I just didn’t care to keep reading.

Apathy to the story, in general, is probably why I stopped reading. It wasn’t anything wrong with it, I just didn’t care to keep trying. I wasn’t interested enough and eventually, I didn’t get back around to picking the book up and finishing it and I’m okay with that. Not every book works for everyone. This one was one of them for me.

Have you read either of these books? What were your thoughts? And what are your reasons for DNF-ing a book?

05 July 2018

The Kiss Quotient // I Loved It… You Need It

Published: 5th July 2018 (UK Paperback)
Source: Purchased/Readers First
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
My Rating:
A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there's not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases--a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn't help that Stella has Asperger's and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice--with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can't afford to turn down Stella's offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan--from foreplay to more-than-missionary position...

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he's making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic...
I had no doubts that I would love this book but I hadn't realised how much I would adore it. Stella and Michael are my absolute favourites and I need to write a full review to explain why. I mean, I loved this book so much that when I saw the opportunity to get a physical copy on Readers First I knew I needed to give it a shot because I needed a copy to hold in my hands (and lend to all of my friends).

I knew very little about this book going in. To be honest, the most I knew is that Nick couldn't get enough of it and that it had an autistic protagonist which was more than enough for me. From that  alone, I knew I needed this book so I went and preordered. I began reading it as soon as it arrived on my Kindle.

Stella has an amazing job and is happy with her work obsession... until her mom tells her she wants to have grandchildren and suggests maybe Stella needs to start dating. For most this wouldn't be a major problem, but Stella is on the autistic spectrum and she does not so well with others. She can care for herself and function in the world, she has taught herself how to not stand out, but she isn't comfortable with unexpected touches, prolonged eye contact, strong smells, and she isn't great at getting along with people. She simply doesn't know what to do, she has had sex and it was extremely uncomfortable but from what she knows of men to have a successful relationship she needs to be good at sex. How is she to do that? Hire an escort obviously. And boy does she hire a good one. I would want Michael too.

Michael is a sweet cinnamon roll and I adored him. He escorts only on Friday nights and never the same woman twice. He isn't doing it to fund a crazy lifestyle and he only does it because he knows he's good at sex and it's the only way he can make the big bucks he needs. He doesn't expect Stella at all. She isn't the type of woman he is used to. She is nice and sweet and so pretty and he doesn't even register there is something different about her until much later. He is so sweet with her. He never pushes and follows her lead. He doesn't push for sex, or even to do anything beyond cuddling if that's what she wishes. And those sweet moments of just being a couple together are the best moments. In fact, it's what leads to the Pretty Woman proposal of them faking being a couple together.

I adored it when they were together. They were the best couple together bringing out the best sides of each other. Stella learnt there was more to life than her job and although her routine makes her feel comfortable it isn't everything. And she learns she is a person and she is more than her autism. She is fun and interesting and lovable. The same happens for Michael. He continually thought he wasn't good enough and didn't deserve love because he could offer no one anything but he was the most lovable person. he was kind and caring and would put those he loved first and do anything to stand up for them. He deserved everything he wanted in life. He was beautiful and amazing and I adored him completely.

I have to say, one element of this book I liked the most was the portrayal of Stella and her autism. I have a cousin who is on the spectrum so obviously my idea of someone with autism is very much focused upon him and how he deals with things. He isn’t great at family parties (too much noise) and he has a set routine he hates to drift from. He wouldn’t cope with the day to day as Stella does and I hadn’t realised that much of how she acts and tries to normalise herself to other people’s expectations is very much a female element of being on the spectrum and the amount of research Hoang did to portray Stella as she did was amazing. I mean, the research which she did was the reason Helen Hoang even discovered she herself is on the spectrum. It’s amazing and I definitely want to read some of the books recommended in the author’s note. This book is so interesting simply for the character of Stella and how much I truly adored her. She is an eternal favourite and as much as I loved Michael (everyone loves him) Stella is my girl and I will fight you if you didn’t love her too.

So guys, read this book. It's an eternal favourite and I kind of want to hand it out on the streets for folks to read. Everyone should just read it already!

Please tell me you’ve read this and want to flail with me too. What was the last book you adored to the extreme and wanted everyone to read?