Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Publishing Info: September 2013 by Macmillan Children’s Books

Pages: 481

Star Rating: 2/5

Back Cover Summary:

Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan.

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

I feel kind of mean giving this book 2 stars. It wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t good. It started out well and had me engaged at the beginning, but I just didn’t enjoy it that much the further it went along. It just ended up being kind of, well, boring.

To begin with, I was excited to read a book set in college rather than high school. It made a refreshing change to read about characters embarking on a different part of their educational and life journey. Although I can’t imagine sharing a dorm with someone. We don’t really have shared rooms in accommodation much in the UK. I liked having my own private space to retreat to – it would have been weird to have a roommate! Reagan – Cath’s roommate – was a great character and really different to Cath. At first they don’t really get along and mostly ignore each other, but eventually they become friends in a way that seemed genuine and not forced by the author.

One thing positive I do have to say is that I really related to Cath. She’s anxious about being in a new environment she isn’t familiar with, and Rainbow Rowell managed to describe those feelings really well. I liked how Cath and Wren’s relationship evolves over the course of the book. As twins, they’ve done everything together. Then suddenly Wren wants more independence, but Cath is so used to having Wren around, she feels lost without her. There are lots of ups and downs in their friendship over the course of the book.

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Fairyloot October 2019 Unboxing

This is my first unboxing post as I finally decided to order a subscription box, having been eyeing them up for ages! There are various book subscription boxes you can get, which usually include a book and a selection of goodies. Plus, it’s a surprise, as you don’t know what the book or items will be.

Fairyloot is a UK-based YA fantasy subscription box. If you subscribe, you get a box a month which includes a hardback book and 5-6 exclusive goodies around a theme. You can subscribe monthly, or there are 3 month and 6 month pre-paid options. The monthly cost is £26. Or you can get a single purchase and just buy a one-off box, which is what I decided to do. It’s pretty expensive to get monthly, so I just decided I would by a box occasionally as a single purchase when a theme catches my eye.

Be warned there will be spoilers for the contents of the October box in this post!

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October 2019 Wrap Up

This month seems to have been really busy. I went on my first trip abroad with friends which was great. We went to Amsterdam, which is a really beautiful and interesting city. I also ordered my first Fairyloot box – the October ‘Love at First Bite’ box. More on that to come in my unboxing post soon.

Reading

This month I read The Beautiful by Reneé Ahdieh (an eARC received through NetGalley) and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Both are authors I have read and enjoyed before. I loved both books and gave them solid 4 stars, although I’d say Six of Crows is stronger in terms of the writing quality. The Beautiful is an alluring and mysterious historical novel set in 1800s New Orleans with vampires! Meanwhile Six of Crows is a heist novel set in Bardugo’s Grishaverse. I’m super excited to see her characters brought to life on TV (Netflix are adapting her books!). I’ve also started reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell which I’m about halfway through so far.

Book Haul

I bought four books this month, all from Sarah J Maas’s Throne of Glass series. I read the first two on Kindle but I loved them so much I really wanted to read the rest as physical copies. When I love a book, I like to be able to see it on my shelf!

Writing

I’ve continued working on my current WIP which is a YA fantasy. I’m now about halfway through the book and enjoying immersing myself in this new world. As it’s a first draft I’m trying not to dwell too much on getting in perfect and just get some words down on paper. I can always go back and edit it later.

This month has been pretty busy but I still managed to get some reading and writing done so I can be pretty happy with that.

Book Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy  

Publishing Info: June 2016 by Orion Children’s Books (first published 2015)

Pages: 494

Star Rating: 4/5

Back Cover Summary:

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price–and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

When I started reading this book, I wasn’t into it at all. It took me quite a few chapters to start enjoying it. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood at the start, and perhaps I had ridiculously high expectations because of the insane amount of hype around Six of Crows. Also I loved Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone from the first chapter, which kind of added to the pressure on this book to be brilliant. Despite my reservations at the start, it is a brilliant book.

Each of the central characters are well developed with back stories that are slowly revealed over the course of the book. I got more into it as I gained more understanding of each character’s backgrounds and motivations. The characters are also neither ‘good’ nor ‘evil’ and I liked that they have different views on the world (for example attitudes towards the Grisha) depending on their backgrounds. The interactions and relationships between the characters is one of the strongest parts of the book. They drive the narrative and make it the great book it is.

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Book Review: The Beautiful by Reneé Ahdieh (eARC)

The Beautiful by Reneé Ahdieh

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Historical Fiction

Publishing Info: October 2019 by Hodder & Stoughton  

Pages: 448

Star Rating: 4/5

Back Cover Summary:

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as Le Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sèbastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of Le Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sèbastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

Thank you so much to Hodder & Stoughton and NetGalley for the eARC of this book.

I’m a tad late with this review. I did start reading it before it was released, but didn’t end up having much time to read on my holiday to Amsterdam. But better late than never!

The premise for this book instantly got my attention. Vampires. Murder mystery. In New Orleans. In the 1800s. Count me in. I’m quite hard to please when it comes to vampire novels. I think because I have been disappointed by so many. The historical New Orleans setting was certainly a great attraction, as it made a change from all the modern day vampire novels. In fact, it didn’t feel necessarily like a vampire novel, which is a good thing, as it felt like its own rather than trying too hard to fit a mould.

There is a mysterious, sumptuous atmosphere in much of the book, which Reneé Ahdieh does an excellent job at capturing. Alluring is a good word to describe this book. I also can’t help but love a good murder mystery! However I did feel by the end still quite in the dark about all the mysterious people, and whether they are all vampires or something else. That air of mystery is very effective for most of the book, but it would have been more satisfying to get more answers and a clearer picture of this shadowy paranormal world by the end.

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Visiting Amsterdam

I haven’t been abroad much, so this trip was very exciting! I’d been to places when I was younger and to Canada a couple of times as I have relatives there, but I’d not been on holiday abroad since Austria in 2014. It was also my first time going on holiday with friends rather than family which was exciting. I went with two friends from uni and we stayed in a lovely Airbnb in Weesp, which is just on the edge of Amsterdam, for three nights from 5th – 8th October.

A sunny day in Weesp

The journey there went smoothly, except I felt very travel sick on the plane. But, thankfully, everything was running on time. When we arrived at the Airbnb in the afternoon we decided to explore Weesp. It’s a lovely little town with a river, shops, cafes and restaurants. There was also a church with an unusual bell ring that sounded very pretty.

A rather wet Amsterdam!

On our first full day in the Netherlands we headed into Amsterdam. It was only a 15 minute train journey into the centre of the city. Unfortunately it rained all day, so we decided to explore some museums. First up was the Amsterdam Museum, which although wasn’t at the top of my to do list was actually really interesting and gave a good overview and insight into the history of Amsterdam. So that was actually a pretty good place to start. At lunch I satisfied my sweet tooth with a pancake from a nice café which was delicious.

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Book Review: Aphrodite Made Me Do It by Trista Mateer (eARC)

Aphrodite Made Me Do It by Trista Mateer

Genre: Poetry, Mythology

Publishing Info: October 2019 by Central Avenue Publishing

Pages: 224

Star Rating: 4/5

Back Cover Summary:

Bestselling and award-winning author Trista Mateer takes an imaginative approach to self-care in this new poetry and prose collection,
Aphrodite Made Me Do It. In this empowering retelling, she uses the mythology of the goddess to weave a common thread through the past and present. By the end of this book, Aphrodite make you believe in the possibility of your own healing.

Thank you so much to Central Avenue Publishing and NetGalley for the eARC of this book.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, or how much I would enjoy it, as I don’t often read poetry. In fact, I didn’t enjoy much poetry when I did my English Literature degree, but I’ve come to realise that I don’t hate poetry, it’s just a matter of finding the words that sing to you.

This book has a varied style, with some written in more poetic form and other sections written in more of a prose style. The mixture makes it more accessible, and although I personally would have enjoyed more of the fragmented poetry sections, I think this does give it appeal to a wider audience. You don’t have to like poetry to like this book.

The topics covered are very relatable, put in simple terms that everyone can understand, but those words are put together in a beautifully lyrical way. Subject matter such as body image, assault, love, coming out, abuse and family are all explored in a very honest way. Using mythology as a way to tell the story and explore the themes of the book was an interesting and effective choice. It does help that I’ve always had an interest in mythology. Aphrodite is given a voice and the book gives an interesting perspective on how the love goddess is represented in literature and culture.

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