November 2020 Wrap Up

November ended up being a pretty good month for me. I managed to stay well and got LOADS of writing done! I only read 3 books but two of them were really long so I’m still happy with that.

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – This is the second book in the Dark Artifices series and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it quite as much as Lady Midnight which was just absolutely brilliant.

It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Holly Bourne’s books are just so good. This one picks apart clichés in romance films and portrays teen life in a way that was funny but also really realistic.

A Storm of Swords Part I by George R. R. Martin ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – I don’t know about other countries, but here in the UK the third book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series is split into two volumes because it’s so long! It was really weird how the book just finished in the middle of the story, so I will definitely be picking up Part II soon.

I had two amazing special editions arrive this month. Illumicrate’s book for October was The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue and their edition is just so beautiful! I also couldn’t resist a special edition of Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo as her Grishaverse is one of my favourite series. I got the Fairyloot edition which has exclusive stencilled edges. As I’ve mentioned before, I LOVE dragons, and I was so excited when I saw the premise for Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz, it sounds amazing!

So… I did it!! I finished my WIP! In my October wrap up I didn’t think I would be able to finish it by the end of November, but I ended up having such a good month for writing. I wrote 22,000 words in November and managed to finish my YA Arthurian legend retelling. I am so so excited to have finished my first draft! The final word count is 75,674 which I am pretty happy with. My first drafts are usually quite short and then get longer as I redraft. Now I’m going to have a bit of a break from it before I start working on it again. But I’m so excited about it, I probably won’t be able to resist coming back to it in a week or two. I’ve just really connected with this project and I’m really looking forward to continuing working on it.

Have you read any good books this month? Did anyone take part in NaNoWriMo, how did you do? Chat with me in the comments!

Book Review: It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne

It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne  

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Publishing Info: October 2017 by Usbourne Publishing

Pages: 410

Star Rating: 5/5

Back Cover Summary:

Audrey is over romance. Since her parents’ relationship imploded her mother’s been catatonic, so she takes a cinema job to get out of the house. But there she meets wannabe film-maker Harry. Nobody expects Audrey and Harry to fall in love as hard and fast as they do. But that doesn’t mean things are easy. Because real love isn’t like the movies…

The greatest love story ever told doesn’t feature kissing in the snow or racing to airports. It features pain and confusion and hope and wonder and a ban on cheesy clichés. Oh, and zombies… YA star Holly Bourne tackles real love in this hugely funny and poignant novel.

This is my second book by Holly Bourne and she is definitely a talented writer. Once again, I found myself sucked into the story. She has a way of writing YA contemporary books that just reads so naturally and is really easy to connect to. I wish her books had been out when I was a teen because they are just so good and really relatable, and so amazingly feminist too.  

What I loved about It Only Happens in the Movies is that it’s fun and humorous, while also giving a really realistic portrayal of teen life. The book examines all the clichés you find in romance films and how unrealistic they are. As much as I do enjoy a good romance flick, they don’t explore any of the messy bits of relationships and can be so predictable!

Holly Bourne is really honest about the ups and downs of being a teen. So many YA romance stories almost feel like a fantasy in a way, because there are often a lot of clichés and predictable endings, but It Only Happens in the Movies feels so real and relatable.

There are some really well-written sex scenes and conversations about sex and the anxieties around experiencing it for the first time. Audrey’s parents are also going through a divorce and Holly Bourne portrayed the conflicting feelings and raw emotions of that experience so well.

If you haven’t read any of Holly Bourne’s books yet, I would thoroughly recommend them! I especially recommend to UK readers! There aren’t enough books set in UK high schools and sixth forms and I so enjoyed reading a book with a setting that I could relate to more than the typical US high school stories. I shan’t talk about the ending, because I don’t want to spoil it, but it was a very satisfying conclusion to an excellent book.

Let’s Talk Bookish: Rereading Books

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion. Today’s topic is all about rereading books!

Do you reread books? How often?

I very rarely reread books. I just don’t have as much time for reading as I would like, so I prioritise reading new books rather than rereading. There are so many books out there, though I know it will be impossible to read them all! It’s important to support new authors as well.

Rereading books is an interesting experience since you’re already familiar with the story, and I often find I discover new things I missed the first time around. So I do enjoy rereading and I would do it more if I had more time.

Do you reread a series before reading the newest book?

No, again because of the time issue, but sometimes I wish I was able to do this more! Especially since I often leave a big gap between books in series and forget a lot of what happened in the previous book! If I had more time this is probably something I would do. There are some series I want to reread in future, and I think then I would try reading them closer together.

I’m planning on rereading The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh before I read The Damned, since it’s more than a year ago since I read The Beautiful, and I read an eARC as well so I’d like to read the finished copy.

Is there a certain book or series that you always come back to reread?

Not really, but there are some I would like to read again sometime. The Hunger Games, Shadowhunters, Blood Red Road, Ombria in Shadow, The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray, A Court of Thorns and Roses, Shadow and Bone, to name a few. I’m sure in a few years’ time I will reread some of these!

Do you count rereads towards your monthly/yearly goals?

On the rare occasion that I do reread a book, yes I do, because it’s still reading, even if I’ve read the book before!

Do you feel guilty about rereading books?

I don’t reread much but when I do, I do feel guilty for neglecting all the new books on my shelves I haven’t read yet!

Do you reread books often? What do you enjoy about rereading? Let me know in the comments!

Let’s Talk Bookish: How Many POVs is Too Many?

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion. This week’s Let’s Talk Bookish is a freebie so I decided to look back at topics I’d missed from previous weeks. Today I’ll be talking about POVs!

I have to say I love books with multiple POVs. They don’t work for every story, and I do enjoy single-perspective books, but I just love getting to see inside multiple characters’ heads. I like both reading and writing multi-perspective stories, especially when there’s a large cast who aren’t necessarily with each other the whole book. Seeing what different characters are up to and how their stories come together in the end is so satisfying to me. It’s also interesting seeing how different characters view situations, especially if they come from different backgrounds, have different morals etc. Especially in fantasy, seeing different perspectives can really build on the world as well.

I wish there were more books with more than one or two POVs in YA. A lot of YA books seem to focus on one protagonist, or switch between two, and I often wish I could go and explore what other characters are up to as well.

I do prefer third person over first person when there are multiple POVs. It’s really difficult to pull off two or more distinct first person voices in a book and it can get confusing and jarring. It can be done really well, but I think it’s quite challenging for the writer.

It is important when having multiple POVs for there to be enough time to properly develop each of the POV characters, and also to make sure each of their stories are interesting and unique and actually adds something to the overall plot. Sometimes extra POVs just don’t seem necessary, but sometimes you really couldn’t do without them and it would be a totally different story without multiple POVs. There needs to be a purpose behind it, and each POV needs to drive the plot. They need to carry the story forward in some way, and also have their own arc. There can be too many POVs if they don’t all have a purpose.

What do you think about having multiple POVs? Do you enjoy these types of books, or do you prefer to have just one POV? Is there such thing as too many POVs? Share your thoughts with me in the comments!

The Outstanding Blogger Award

I was nominated for this last month but was busy with work and then I wasn’t feeling well and the days and weeks just slipped past. Thank you so much to Abby at Beyond the Read for nominating me! They have an awesome blog so go and check it out!

The Rules

  1. Provide the link to the creator’s original award post. (Very important: see why in step 5.) The original post by Colton Beckwith can be found here.
  2. Answer the questions provided.
  3. Create 7 unique questions.
  4. Nominate 10 bloggers. Ensure that they are aware of their nomination. Neither the award’s creator nor the blogger that nominated you can be nominated.
  5. At the end of 2020, every blog that pings-back the creator’s original post will be entered to win the 2020 Outstanding Blogger Award!

Onto Abby’s questions!

1.Who is your blogging inspiration?

This is a hard question. I started my blog way back in 2012 (although I didn’t post very often at the start) and I hadn’t actually read any other blogs before I started my own! As I’ve been blogging more over the last few years and discovered so many other amazing bloggers, I’d say this wonderful community as a whole is my inspiration.

2. What are the three most recent additions to your TBR?

For my physical TBR – Blazewrath Games, Crownchasers and The Lives of Saints.

3. What’s your latest non-bookish obsession?

Ooh another tough question. I’m not sure I’d call it an obsession, but I have recently been re-watching all the Star Wars movies in order. I finished with The Rise of Skywalker last weekend.

4. Pick two, drop one: plot, characters, or writing?

How can you make me choose?! I think the best stories are the ones that weave all the elements that make up a great story, if that makes sense. But if I had to pick, I would choose plot and writing and drop characters. I’m sure I must be in a minority as most people seem to prioritise characters. If I don’t enjoy a book’s writing style I find it hard to get through. And plot is really important to me.

5. Do you play any instruments?

I don’t but I had singing lessons when I was in high school and did singing exams. I have a Grade 5 in singing. I’ve been in a choir ever since then, so it’s been sad I’ve not been able to go since the pandemic!

6. Where do you feel most at peace?

I’m not sure I feel at peace anywhere, I’m not very good relaxing. But I’d say when I feel most at peace is just after I’ve been writing. Writing always makes me feel so alive and gives me a kind of buzz, but it also somehow makes me feel at peace at the same time, perhaps because it brings me such joy.

7. What’s your favorite fall drink?

I don’t really have one as there aren’t many fancy drinks I can have because of dietary requirements. I just drink English Breakfast tea all year round. But I do have a chai latte as a treat on occasion.

My questions:

  1. Do you like listening to music while you read?
  2. What is the best book you’ve read in 2020 so far?
  3. What is the best movie or TV show you’ve seen in 2020 so far?
  4. Are there any sequels you liked more than the first book?
  5. Besides reading, what other hobbies do you enjoy?
  6. What book is underrated but you wish more people knew about?
  7. What is your most anticipated 2021 release?

Nominated:

Resa @ Serial Thrillers

Evelyn @ Evelyn Reads

Georgia @ Georgia Haze

Darcy @ The Blogging DJ

Joanna @ The Geekish Brunette

Sofii @ A Book. A Thought.

Raji @ Worlds Unlike Our Own

JJ @ Notes by J

Rukky @ Eternity Books

Breanna @ Paws & Paperbacks

No pressure to take part if you’ve already been nominated or don’t do tags!

Let’s Talk Bookish: Romance as a Subplot

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion. Today’s topic is all about romance subplots and I feel like I’m going to have a lot to say about this one!

I think romance subplots need to strike the right balance. They can add to the story in a really great way, but when they come to dominate the characters’ thoughts it can get annoying. This is especially an issue in fantasy and sci-fi, where the stakes are pretty high, say for example there is some kind of world-ending crises, but all they can think about is their feelings. Of course, their feelings are still important, but focusing on the right elements of the story at the right times is so important. Romance can end up distracting the characters from the main plot too much, and that does frustrate me sometimes.

The worst thing about romance subplots is when they are thrown in for the sake of it. Sometimes romance subplots, especially in YA, feel like they are included just to tick a box because it’s become so expected for there to be romance. I can’t think of any I’ve read recently, but I remember noticing this in the past.

I like variety in what I’m reading. I do love stories with romance in them, but I do also enjoy reading books that don’t have romance, and are more focused on the plot, platonic relationships or family. We need more of these kinds of books! Or ones where there is romance, but it develops more slowly over a series rather than in the span of one book. Sometimes romances just seem to develop too quickly.

Another important thing for me when it comes to romance is reader expectations. I want to know what I’m getting myself into before I read a book. If a description doesn’t make it clear romance is the focus, I’m disappointed when the whole book is about romance, especially if I’ve picked it up because I’m looking for something without romance right then. And on the flip side, when a book is promoted based on its romance and then that content is lacking, that’s disappointing too. So I think expectations are important.

Romance can work as a main plot or a subplot, and I enjoy both. What I want to read depends what mood I’m in. So how the book is marketed and whether I go into it with the right expectations is going to make a difference to how much I enjoy it.

I do seem to have read a lot of fantasy and sci-fi books in the last couple of years in which romance plays quite a big part, especially in YA. However, a recent read that springs to mind is Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee, which I loved, and it didn’t have any romance in it! I could see there being some romance potentially develop in the sequel, which would be fine, but I really liked that the first book in the series focused on the plot and friendships. I would like to read more books that have less of a focus on romance, so if anyone has any recommendations do share them with me in the comments!

October 2020 Wrap Up

There was so much I wanted to get done this month, but October just didn’t end up being so great for me. I haven’t done as much blogging or blog hopping this month sadly. I’ve been busier at work, and my fatigue has been worse. It’s been a bit of a struggle. I’m thinking of writing a blog post about my experience of chronic illness at some point, perhaps in December for Crohn’s & Colitis awareness week. I also found out this week that we’re going through a restructure at work. I should have a job for the time being, but it’s quite stressful. I haven’t been told much yet, but it could have quite big implications for my role.

I might not be blogging as much the next couple of months depending how I’m feeling health-wise. The limited time I have when I feel good, I need to focus on writing my novel. But I will still be blogging and reading blog posts when I can!

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – I really loved this one and would recommend it even for people who don’t usually go for sci-fi!

The Roommate by Rosie Danan ⭐⭐⭐ – I very rarely read contemporary books, but I’ve read so much fantasy this year that I just needed to read something totally different. I had no idea what to pick but I’d heard this one mentioned a few times so got it on my Kindle. I didn’t write a review for it because this is just not my genre so I wouldn’t really know what to say! It was okay but I didn’t love it. It served its purpose of giving me a break from fantasy. I would like to read more romance books occasionally, so if anyone has any recommendations please share them with me!

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir ⭐⭐⭐ – I’ve heard so much about this series and I was so excited to read this book. Sadly though, I just didn’t click with it. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s a good book. I can’t even put my finger on why I didn’t enjoy it more. It has all the elements I should love in a fantasy book. I didn’t write a review for this one either because I just didn’t know what to say about it, because I’m not sure why I didn’t connect with it. Perhaps some of it was just down to timing and the mood I’ve been in this month.

Manga Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – I read some of these books a while ago as a way to introduce myself to Shakespeare plays I was studying before diving into the play. It can be quite hard to keep track of who is who when reading the plays, and I found these Manga adaptations gave a helpful and enjoyable overview. I realised I had a couple on my shelf I hadn’t read because I didn’t end up studying them.

The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – When I marked this as finished on Goodreads, it showed that my start date for this book was September 2019. I cannot believe it took me so long to read it! I don’t generally enjoy short stories that much, so I’ve been reading the odd story from this collection every now and then between other books.

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – This is a brilliant debut! It’s a retelling of Romeo and Juliet set in 1920s Shanghai and I really enjoyed it. (although there was a bit too much gore for me in places!)

This month I ended up with only a couple of books. But I have several ordered which are due to arrive in November so I think I will need to go on a book buying ban! I love YA sci-fi and Crownchasers by Rebecca Coffindaffer sounds amazing so I just had to get myself a copy. I also bought Illumicrate’s edition of The Lives of Saints by Leigh Bardugo. This book is just so beautiful, the illustrations are stunning!

Although I had a pretty rough month, I still managed to write double the amount I wrote in September. This month I wrote about 12,000 words of my WIP and I’m roughly two thirds of the way through the book. So I am happy with that, but I know I could have written so much more if I’d been feeling better. I don’t think I’ll reach my original goal of finishing it by the end of November. I’d really like to finish it by Christmas.

What have you been reading? What have you been up to? Chat with me in the comments!

Top 10 Tuesday: Halloween Vibes

Top 10 Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish, but has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. If you’re interested in taking part click here. For today’s Halloween freebie, I decided to pick out 10 of my favourite books that give me Halloween vibes!

The Beautiful by Reneé Ahdieh – This book is so luscious and mysterious. There are dark murders and vampires so of course it makes this list.

The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding – This was one of my favourite books as a teen. I read it over and over. It’s been a while since my last reread though! I found this book spine-tingling and loved it so much.

Poison by Chris Wooding – Another spooky read from Chris Wooding. I don’t remember this one as well as Alaizabel, but I know it was a creepy read!

Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee – I’m so glad I picked this one up, despite my trepidation at the spider content, because I loved the story. The trees are also really creepy! I can’t wait for the sequel to come out next year!

Read More »

Let’s Talk Bookish: What Makes You DNF a Book?

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion. For today’s topic, we’re talking about DNFing books. DNF stands for ‘Did Not Finish’ and is when you stop reading a book part way through.

I actually don’t DNF books. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t finish a book I’d started. I must have done years ago, but not for a long while. Once I’ve started a book, I’m in it to the end. Maybe this isn’t the best approach though. If I’m not loving a book, should I put it down so I can spend my time on a book I’ll like more instead? Maybe. But I just can’t seem to bring myself to DNF a book.

Sometimes a book can really pick up in the second half, and I end up feeling glad I didn’t give up on it early on before things got good, even though I didn’t enjoy it to begin with. I didn’t find the opening quarter or so of Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo that engaging, but it ended up being one of my favourite series. Recently I read Shielded by KayLynn Flanders. I didn’t enjoy the first half much at all and possibly should have DNFed it. But I liked the second half a lot more, so I am glad I stuck with it, even though I didn’t love it overall.

The one time I can imagine DNFing, is if a book has just really bad writing. If the writing quality was really poor, I wouldn’t be able to get through it. Or if perhaps the book wasn’t what I was expecting or includes triggers I wasn’t aware of before I started reading.

I do sometimes give up on series without finishing them. Sometimes I only read the first book and decide I’m not invested enough to keep reading. Other times I read two or more books in the series but then if I don’t enjoy the sequels I won’t keep going with the series. Especially long series, when there is a bigger time commitment. I have to really love a book to read a long series. Whereas I’m more likely to persevere with a duology or trilogy if I’m interested enough to want to know how the story ends.

Do you DNF books you aren’t enjoying? What makes you decide to DNF? And are you ever likely to pick up a DNF and try it again in future? I’d love to know what you think so chat with me in the comments!

Book Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab (eARC)

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction  

Publishing Info: eARC from Titan Books   

Pages: 560

Star Rating: 4/5

Back Cover Summary:

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever-and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore, and he remembers her name.

Thank you so much to Titan Books and NetGalley for the eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is fantasy author V. E. Schwab’s latest book and is one of the most anticipated releases for 2020. Having not read any of Schwab’s work before, I didn’t go into reading this with any preconception of what to expect from her style. I was excited to read it because it has a very intriguing and mysterious premise, but I tried not to let all the hype around this book give me too high expectations for it. 

What struck me from the beginning was the beautiful writing. I was drawn into Addie’s story right from the first page. Something about the writing just captured me and didn’t let go. The book is written in third person present tense, which I don’t usually like as it can be really awkward to read. However, Schwab writes so beautifully in this book, I sunk into the writing from the first page and didn’t find the third person present tense awkward at all, in fact it read really naturally for this story.

The narrative goes back and forth between the present and the past. In the present, Addie is living in New York and it’s been nearly 300 years since she made her deal. Through the flashback chapters we see what led her to make that decision and how the mysterious, shadowy person she made the deal with tries to persuade her to give in and hand him her soul. My favourite chapters were the ones set in the past. It was really interesting seeing how Addie learned to cope with life with the boundaries of her deal. If everyone forgets you as soon as there’s a door between you, how can you do even simple things like rent a room? If you can’t have a job because everyone forgets you, how do you get money to pay for food? I also loved seeing Addie move through the different periods in history.

I don’t want to say too much more about the plot, as I really enjoyed the experience of reading when I wasn’t sure what to expect. The book’s description doesn’t give much away, and I liked getting to discover the story without too many preconceptions of what it would be about.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue explores themes of time, memory, identity, and what it means to be human, as well as the connections we make with other people. This is a thoughtful and imaginative novel which went right to my heart. It’s a book I will definitely want to read again.