Six for Sunday: Favourite Tropes

Sunday again! Where do the weeks go?! Anyway, time for this week’s Six for Sunday, which is a meme created by Steph over at A Little But A Lot. This week’s theme is favourite tropes, so here goes!

  1. The chosen one
  2. Insta-love (I’m sorry, I know it’s terrible and unrealistic but can’t help it!)
  3. Friends to something more
  4. Angst
  5. Found families
  6. Meet-cutes

God, they’re all terrible. I am a cliche of a person, but I really do love all of them – with the caveat that they have to be done well.

What would be on your list of favourite tropes? Let me know in the comments!

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Book Review: The Eye of the North

I like to read the odd middle grade book now and again, and The Eye of the North by Sinead O’Hart sounded like it had the potential to be a great book when it turned up in the books of the month Netgalley email. Sadly, for me it didn’t quite live up to that potential.

teotn

Emmeline Widget has never left Widget Manor – and that’s the way she likes it. But when her scientist parents mysteriously disappear, she finds herself being packed off on a ship to France, heading for a safe house in Paris. Onboard she is befriended by an urchin stowaway called Thing. But before she can reach her destination she is kidnapped by the sinister Dr Siegfried Bauer.
Dr Bauer is bound for the ice fields of Greenland to summon a legendary monster from the deep. And he isn’t the only one determined to unleash the creature. The Northwitch has laid claim to the beast, too. Can Emmeline and Thing stop their fiendish plans and save the world?

First of all, the things I did like. Emmeline was a very interesting character and I really liked how she was prepared for everything, and how she could adapt the things around her to be of use. I mean, it all stemmed from the paranoia instilled in her by her upbringing, but it was a good take on anxiety. I also liked Thing, and his willingness to protect this young girl he comes across by accident, even when it’s clear she’s in much deeper trouble than he ever imagined. My problem with the two of them was that they never seemed to properly connect, and therefore I never connected with their friendship. Thing knew Emmeline for all of five minutes before she was kidnapped, and I was just never sure of why he cared so much. Yes, he’s a good, decent lad but I expect a bit more motivation than that in a story with kidnappings and potential deaths! It could have worked, if we’d just seen the two of them actually being friends for a bit longer.

The other thing I liked was the idea. I’m a sucker for stories with a young heroine forced to survive on her own in a story with mythical or supernatural elements, so this should have been right up my street. It failed somewhere in its execution, although I can’t put my finger on why. Again, I’m not sure we spent enough time with our villain to work out his underlying motivations. Obviously he wanted power, but why? The same was true of the Northwitch, who could have been an awesome character.

I enjoyed reading The Eye of the North, and it’s a perfectly acceptable debut MG novel. I’m just disappointed because it still feels like it had the potential to be so much more. It also feels like there’s a lot missing in it, and I do wonder if it was heavily edited to bring the wordcount down. If that is the case, it’s a shame, because I’d have liked to have known more about the characters and setting.

Having said all of this, I will be perfectly happy to pick up Sinead O’Hart’s next book, and I look forward to seeing her grow as an author.

The Eye of the North is out in the UK on 8th February, published by Stripes Publishing.

3/5

ARC received from the publisher, Stripes Publishing, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Pre-order campaign: The Exact Opposite Of Okay

Something a little bit different from me today – I wanted to draw your attention to the pre-order campaign for The Exact Opposite Of Okay by Laura Steven. This is a brilliant, funny, feminist book and I loved it when I read it!

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So, if you pre-order the book before 7th March 2018, and email proof of purchase to Laura at theexactoppositeofokay@gmail.com, on release day, she will send you an exclusive bonus chapter detailing how our heroine, Izzy O’Neill, lost her virginity. Yes, really.

I’ll be reviewing The Exact Opposite Of Okay nearer to release date, but have a read of the synopsis below, then head to your retailer of choice to pre-order!

Aspiring comedian Izzy O’Neill never expected to be eighteen and internationally reviled. But when photos involving her, a politician’s son and a garden bench emerge, the trolls set out to take her apart. Armed with best friend Ajita and a metric ton of nachos, she must figure out who’s behind the vicious website – while keeping her sanity intact. 

Izzy is about to find out that the way the world treats girls is not okay. It’s the Exact Opposite of Okay.

This is a book for anyone who’s ever called themselves a feminist … and anyone who hasn’t. 

Pre-order at Amazon 

Or at Book Depository

Six for Sunday: 2017 Books I Didn’t Read

It’s that time of the week again! Six for Sunday is a meme created by Steph at A Little But A Lot. This week’s theme is actually authors you discovered in 2017, but I did that for a Top Ten Tuesday post the other week, so I’m jumping back and doing the first theme of this year (which I missed) – 2017 books I didn’t read.

I actually own all these books. I was excited about all of them before they came out. I’m still excited for them. I just haven’t got round to reading them! The sad thing is, I could have easily doubled this list under the same criteria. Why do things like working and eating and sleeping get in the way of reading?

What did you miss last year? Is your list as sad-making as mine? Let me know in the comments!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I Loved, But Can’t Really Remember

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme that was created by The Broke and the Bookish, and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is books you loved, but can’t remember much about at all. It feels terrible to confess, but there are So. Many. I read relatively quickly, so books often merge into each other. On the plus side, I can reread as many times as I want without remembering what happened!

Anyway, the books!

I really loved all of these books (I even recommend some of them!), and I can remember certain things about them, but I couldn’t sit here and tell you the entire storyline of any of them. Which can only mean it’s time to reread!

Do you always remember what happened in the books you’ve read, or are you like me? What would be on your list? Let me know in the comments!

Discussion: How Important is Social Media to Blogging?

So I realised the other day that being a blogger is actually really difficult if you can’t spend a lot of time on social media. Or at least, I’m finding it difficult to keep up with everyone and their posts. I used to be on twitter a lot – my job meant I had significant periods of downtime and I’m not someone who can just sit in a room doing nothing. Twitter was a good way to pass the time – nothing that needed a huge amount of concentration, but enough to keep me occupied. I don’t have that anymore. I might have time to look briefly a couple of times a day, but that’s about it, and by the time I get home, I’ve just missed so much I get really frustrated. And don’t even get me started on instagram!

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Not being constantly active on social media means not being able to promote my posts as well as other people do. It means not being able to connect with other bloggers away from their actual blogs and I miss out on joining collaborations or just making friends. It means finding it harder to connect with authors and publishers. As someone who’s not on any blogger lists, this last one is actually really important. I miss out on opportunities to win giveaways of proofs I won’t get otherwise, or to join blog tours. And frankly, I miss chatting to random people connected to the book world.

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I’m not blaming anyone for this. The world is as it is, and I just happened to have spectacularly bad timing in trying to get the blog going again when I didn’t have the time for social media, but I’m interested to hear other opinions. Do you think being active on social media is important for a blogger? Do you have any solutions for how I can make it work? Let me know in the comments, and feel free to link me to your social media handles if you want!

 

Six For Sunday: Favourite Covers of 2017

Six for Sunday is a meme created by Steph over at A Little But A Lot and this week’s theme is favourite covers of 2017. I love book covers, and there are occasions when I’ve bought a book purely on the strength of what the cover looks like, so let’s see what I’ve gone with!

I commented on Charlotte’s post earlier that I thought my list would be similar to hers, but actually we’ve only got one book in common (Ink, which is so beautifully shiny it should be on everyone’s lists!). I love the optical illusion in Release, and the Waterstones special edition of Strange the Dreamer was genuinely one of the most beautful things I’d ever seen. The Smoking Hourglass is there to represent all the wonderful covers that Karl J Mountford is doing at the moment – I recommend you check out his work, because I love it!

This was so difficult! I think publishers are really pushing the boat out on covers recently, and we’ve been totally spoiled! What would be on your list? Let me know in the comments!

 

Book Review: The Cruel Prince

Right, a disclaimer before I start: I LOVE Holly Black and have done since I read Tithe too many years ago to remember. I am so excited to be back in Faerie with her, so this is not at all an unbiased review! I also happen to think this is the best book Holly’s written so you know, spoilers: I loved it.

the cruel prince

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

Holly’s world-building is always breathtaking, and The Cruel Prince is no exception. The opening chapter set the scene brutally, but perfectly – happy endings are going to be hard to come by in this series. Which is how things should be to be honest. I found that Holly painted a picture so vivid it was easy to lose myself in the world, from the estate where Jude and her sisters grow up, to the High King’s palace.

What I really loved was how morally ambiguous everyone was. Everyone is capable of doing bad things, and you never know who to trust – which is of course the problem our heroine, Jude faces. A human brought up as a member of the Gentry is an anomaly – it is something only true of Jude and her twin sister Taryn – and Jude suffers for it. Most of her classmates think of humans as scum only fit to serve and resent Jude being treated as one of them. This does not lead to a very pleasant life for Jude and Taryn, but what I loved about Jude was her refusal to give up. She was determined to get what she wanted – knighthood earned by merit, and a place in the hierarchy no-one could question – even though there’s a chance it could get her killed. She is strong and resilient, and even when she’s betrayed by the people around her, she keeps on going. Again, and again and again. She’s a fantastic character – not always likeable, and sometimes frustrating, but fantastic.

The plot (which I’m not going to go into in detail, because spoilers) is gripping. Right from that first brutal chapter, I was sucked into the story and didn’t want to leave. I needed to know what happened next. In many ways, The Cruel Prince is a policitial thriller, just not set in our world. Jude finds herself working as a spy for the next in line to the throne, and there were some scenes where my heart was in my mouth because of the potential danger she was in. The book is full of intrigue and potential conspiracies (and the odd cameo from Holly’s earlier Faerie books), and I loved it for it.

I really cannot recommend The Cruel Prince highly enough. If you’ve read Holly’s other books you’ll get an extra kick out of it, but you don’t need to, as this is a separate series. I’m already dying for book 2 and I can’t believe I have to wait a year for it. I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to cope!

5/5

ARC received from Bonnier Zaffre/Hot Key Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Bookish Goals for 2018

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme that was created and originally hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, but which is, as of this week, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Let us just take a moment to mourn the passing of an era. *Sad music plays*

Onwards and upwards though, and this week’s theme is bookish goals and resolutions, which could not be better timed, as I needed to make a post of these anyway!

1. Read 130 books

This is my goodreads challenge total. Last year I read 150, but it was a struggle to get there, so to take a little bit of the stress out of it, I dropped it to 130 this year. Still a challenge but hopefully not an overwhelming one.

2. Review regularly

I don’t expect to review every book I read, but I should review more than I did last year! I’d like to be posting a review at least once a week here (although I’m happy to average that out over the year. 52 reviews seems manageable, doesn’t it?)

3. Clear the Netgalley shelf

This was one of last year’s resolutions too, and I started well…but then failed miserably. I have about 25 books waiting to be read, some of which are 2 years old now, so I really must do better at clearing them. Relatedly, I shouldn’t be afraid to not finish them and give feedback accordingly if they’re just not for me.

4. Don’t be afraid to be critical

I tend to only write and post reviews of books I liked, because I’m always worried that someone will attack me if I’m critical. Which is ridiculous. If I don’t like a book, I don’t like it. I can’t help that! So expect more reviews of books I hated this year.

5. Crosspost reviews to Amazon, Goodreads and Bookbridgr

I’m a terrible person, and I never review on retail sites, and I only ever put a star rating on goodreads. I need to be better at this this year.

6. Remember to actually link challenge-eligible posts to the challenge

Fairly self explanatory I think. I know I’m not the only person who fell out of the British Books Challenge last year and I’m determined to see it through to the end in 2018! This is true of any other challenges I may yet sign up for.

7. Read more diversely

I read a lot of books by women, but that doesn’t get me off the hook for reading books by other diverse authors. I started this last year, and I shall do better with it this year.

8. Clear out the kindle

My kindle is like the place books go to die. I am terrible at reading on it, not least because I forget what I’ve bought. This year is the year I sort it out. I will read the books I want to read and delete the ones I don’t. It’s not that hard, is it?!

9. Remember that the subtitle of this blog is ‘Tackling the TBR Pile’ and STOP BUYING BOOKS

I mean, obviously not completely, but I really do need to read the books I have before buying more. I am actually being helped in this at the moment, becase I picked up so many proofs at YALC, I don’t need to buy any of the new releases! (It took me ages before I realised that was why I was so underwhelmed whenever I went into Waterstones.)

10. Comment more on other blogs

This is something else I’m terrible at, but I’m going to improve this year. I need to actually schedule time to do blog things, including commenting.

So there are my bookish goals for the year. Four of them were also on last year’s list, but never mind. This year is the year!

What are your bookish goals or resolutions? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review: Wunderkids

I’m not going to lie to you. I hated this book. I really struggled to finish it because it just wasn’t holding my interest at all, and when I did finally get to the last page, I breathed a sigh of relief. I did wonder if my feelings were because I was reading on my kindle, because I’ve fallen out of love with the ebook format recently, but I’ve just raced through a netgalley request on there, so I think it has to be this particular book I didn’t like.

wunderkids cover

15-year-old Nikka is invited to attend Wildwood Academy, a prestigious but secret boarding school for talented youth located deep in the Californian mountains. Once there, Nikka quickly falls in love with her bizarre classes, the jaw-dropping scenery and… two very different boys. 

However, Wildwood Academy has a dark and twisted secret, one that could cost Nikka the one thing she had never imagined she could lose, the one thing that money can’t buy. It is this very thing that Wildwood Academy was created to steal. 

Nikka can stay and lose everything, or she can risk death and run. 

This is going to be a relatively short review, because it appears I’ve already blocked a lot of it from my memory! The first thing I’d say is that I think it’s badly written, and that it needed a better editor. There is a ton of unnecessary description of what everyone is wearing, for example, or of the scenery which has already been described earlier in the book, in almost exactly the same way. There’s a lot of repetition actually, and I found the writing to be quite simple, which I didn’t like.

The second thing I’d say is that the characters have no actual character. There are rich boys with secrets, mean girls and talented boys and girls, and that’s pretty much all we know about them. We know a bit more about Nikka, our lead, but it’s all basic background stuff, and I never felt that we really got to know Sums and Stella, Nikka’s best friends at the school, or Tristan and Izaya, her love interests. I will also say that I felt rage at the constant pointing out that Sums was overweight, as if that was his defining characteristic. It’s fine to have overweight characters, but don’t constantly mock them, which is what this felt like.

The third and final thing is that I found the plot very unrealistic, and it didn’t have to be. I’ve read books with much more unbelievable plots, but they were well structured enough that I suspended my disbelief. That never happened in Wunderkids and so I didn’t really care about what was going on. Also, it has to be said that I spotted all the twists coming a mile off, so I was never invested in what was going to happen either.

What it comes down to is this: I just didn’t care about any of it. If I put my kindle down, I didn’t want to pick it back up. I think Wunderkids could have been a decent book, but this wasn’t it. I was very disappointed in it and although I kow many people who loved it, I couldn’t, in all honesty, recommend it to others.

1.5/5

ARC received from the author via her publicist in exchange for an honest review.