Saturday, 28 February 2015

February Wrap Up!

I always forget February only has 28 days - it feels like it's flown by! I hope this month was good to you all?!

I read nine books this month. Not as many as last month but I'm still pretty happy with the number. These were (in chronological order):


  The Boy with the Tiger's Heart by Linda Coggin - 2.5 stars | Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein - 4 stars | Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick - 2 stars | Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson - 4.5 stars | The Duff by Kody Keplinger - 4 stars | The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland - 4 stars | Shut Out by Kody Keplinger - 2.5 stars | The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris - 4 stars | Sophomore Year is Greek to Me by Meredith Zeitlin - 2.5 stars
 
As you can see, a lot of the books I read this month fall under the contemporary romance genre. What can I say? I was in a pretty major kick for a while. I absolutely adored most of them and definitely recommend giving them a go! My favourite read was probably Second Chance Summer but that was very closely followed by all the others I rated four stars. The only book I both read and reviewed this month was The Boy with the Tiger's Heart (which you can read HERE). However, I did post another review in the month of February of a book I read a couple months ago and that was Pennyroyal Academy by M.A. Larson (which you can read HERE).
 
I also managed to complete a few more of the challenges set in the 2015 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge. These were:
 
Read a popular author's first book
Read a book set in high school
 
I've also continued using my local library and, this month especially, started reading from a variety of genres. I mean, since when do I read contemporary?! The majority of the books I read this month were also in ebook format, which made for a nice difference. I'm pretty sure the genre, paired with the fact I was reading it electronically, helped me get out of the reading slump I was heading into at the beginning of the month.
 
I'm also finishing off the month reading Silas Marner by George Eliot. It's not the easiest to get into but I'm intrigued so far!
 
If you would like to read my favourite post of mine this month, click HERE. :)
 
How was February for you?
 
Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

Sunday, 22 February 2015

My Thoughts in Bullet Points... Pennyroyal Academy

Author: M.A. Larson
Edition: Putnam Hardback
Released: 7th October 2014
Series: Pennyroyal Academy #1
Pages: 320 approx.
Link: Goodreads | Author's Website | Buy the book!

Pennyroyal Academy: Seeking bold, courageous youths to become tomorrow's princesses and knights... Come one, come all!

A girl from the forest arrives in a bustling kingdom with no name and no idea why she is there, only to find herself at the center of a world at war. She enlists at Pennyroyal Academy, where princesses and knights are trained to battle the two great menaces of the day: witches and dragons. There, given the name “Evie,” she must endure a harsh training regimen under the steel glare of her Fairy Drillsergeant, while also navigating an entirely new world of friends and enemies. As Evie learns what it truly means to be a princess, she realizes surprising things about herself and her family, about human compassion and inhuman cruelty. And with the witch forces moving nearer, she discovers that the war between princesses and witches is much more personal than she could ever have imagined.

Set in Grimm’s fairytale world, M.A. Larson’s Pennyroyal Academy masterfully combines adventure, humor, and magical mischief.

Today I feel like spicing things up (reviewing format-wise) so I'm going to do a My Thoughts in Bullet Points... because I just haven't done one in absolute ages! Without further-a-do...

THE GOOD THINGS
  • I was instantly drawn in from the get go. I loved the beginning - it hooked me straight away!
  • The world was extremely cool and magical (and, as we all know, I love magical). I'd describe it as one of those worlds that, no matter your age, it'll get your imagination going. I mean, it's set in the Grimm's fairytale world, guys! (Safe to say I recommend it to people who enjoy fairytales and fairytale retellings!)
  • I really liked the main character.
  • I definitely shipped the main character and... a certain knight right from when they first met in the witch's house at the beginning of the story.
  • There was something almost J.K. Rowling-esque about it which I'm sure will intrigue a lot of people! It certainly did me.
  • I think this book is meant to be turning into a movie (the writer developed it from a screenplay he wrote) and will be starring Reese Witherspoon - and I'm pretty darn excited about that.
  • I will definitely be continuing on with the series - the potential for sequels is real!
THE NOT-SO-GOOD THINGS
  • I felt like some parts could have been fleshed out and developed some more. Apparently M.A. Larson used his screenplay to help cut some parts of the novel down but I would have rather he explored and delved into them more instead - I mean, a story should be lengthier than a screenplay anyhow. It was a little disappointing since some of the parts which weren't developed had so much potential. But maybe in the next books, eh?
  • Sometimes I questioned the role and purpose of certain events. This might have been because the ideas behind them weren't developed though.
  • The climax felt a little rushed.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it! It's beyond fun and I'm sure it'll be an equally fun and enjoyable movie!

FOUR TOADSTOOLS TO PENNYROYAL ACADEMY!

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

Sunday, 15 February 2015

I'm in a MAJOR kick right now...

Okay, so for the past few days I've been in a huge contemporary romance kick. Not only is this funny because I never usually read contemporary, like, ever, and all of the novels I've read in this kick have been in ebook format, but it's my second one of the year. The first being my vampire kick in January. I'm starting to think that maybe this will be the year of kicks for me.

As a sidenote, I thought I was going into a reading slump just before I decided to give a contemporary romance a go, and I seriously think that that, coupled with the fact I was reading the book electronically, helped me a lot. Maybe you should think about doing the same next time you feel like you're heading into a slump - to see if it works for you like it did me!

So far I've read three contemporary romance books, and adored them all. These are:


Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
The DUFF by Kody Keplinger
The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland

All three of these, though I went in to them thinking they would most likely be of a light-hearted nature and I'd whizz through them, actually all ended up having something going on behind the scenes - something deeper. And this only made me appreciate them more on a whole other level. I basically loved all three and recommend you read them if they appeal to you (or even if they don't)!

It's so strange how much I adored these books after all this time of avoiding the contemporary genre like the plague!

Are you in any sort of kick right now? Be it a book genre, TV series or movie franchise?

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

PS: Let me know if you're interested in seeing a review of any of these books!

Monday, 9 February 2015

May I borrow some more?

Okay, here's the deal. I love lending out books. To me, grilling your friend on what they like in a book (or what they think they'd like in a book if they're a non-reader) and going through your bookshelf to find suitable choices then forcing them to borrow one (or a few) is a great pastime. So I really don't get when people say they hate lending out books. While I'm here like:

 
They're over there like:
 
 
Or, in extreme cases:
 
 
I'm a firm lender-outer (let's pretend that's a word and roll with it). I love the fact that more people than just me are reading and loving that copy of a book. There's another crack in the spine, more thumb marks on the pages. The story is being shared, just like I feel stories should be.

And if the book comes back with a small coffee stain on a page or a small tear at one corner? It's only proof! Proof that more people have flicked through it and loved it and given it their attention. Proof that the story has been read.

Also, what's more smile-inducing than when you've picked out a winner for your friend - a book they really enjoyed? You feel like a five star librarian!

Are you a lender-outer? Or not so much? Why?

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

None of the above images or gifs in this post belong to me. I claim no possession for any of them.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Review: The Boy with the Tiger's Heart

Author: Linda Coggin
Edition: Hot Key Books Paperback
Released: 4th September 2014
Series: n/a (Standalone)
Pages: 229 approx.
Links: Goodreads | Author's Blog | Buy the book!

The wild is danger. The wild is fierce. The wild is freedom.

Raised by dogs and feared by humans, Nona must run from the authorities with the only people she can trust: a frightened boy called Caius, a mixed-up boy called Jay - and a bear by the name of Abel Dancer.

A haunting and unforgettable modern fable about bravery, untamed places, and what it is that makes us human.

I really don't know how I feel toward this book. It was completely not what I was expecting yet I wouldn't say I disliked it.

During the time I was reading it, I just felt slightly detached - I wasn't enthralled in the storyline and dying to pick the book up every time I put it down. I also felt like I missed the deeper meaning behind the story and the themes specified in the synopsis that the book was meant to explore. Sure, I hate the idea of a world where nature and animals are viewed as a threat but it wasn't put across in a way that made me overly emotional - which I would have liked, being the nature and animal lover I am. I also didn't really pick up on the theme of what it is that makes us human which is a real pity because that was one of the main reasons I picked the book up.

However, though the story felt a little weak to me, the characters were very intriguing. My favourite character was by far Jay. I loved the idea behind him. I also liked Nona, though I felt she never quite explored her full potential. Caius also added a different dynamic to the story with his background but I couldn't quite shake the fact he more or less just felt there. I also would have liked Nona and Abel Dancer's relationship to have been explored more because, as we know, I love human/animal relationships in books.

Maybe if you read this, you'll understand where I'm coming from. Though it wasn't one of the strongest novels I've read and I didn't particularly enjoy it, there was just something in the story that didn't repel me. It's a pity that I, personally, didn't feel the themes were explored thoroughly in the storyline - as I'm sure that would have been a portion of the book I loved. As it is, I'm really not sure what to make of this book. It was a unique read, but didn't quite reel me in.

TWO AND A HALF TOADSTOOLS TO THE BOY WITH THE TIGER'S HEART!
Huge thank you to Hot Key Books for sending me out a review copy of this book!
 
Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Exciting February Releases!

I'm not one to follow book releases but I came across a few exciting releases this month and thought I'd share them all with you.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
10th February 2015

The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?



The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons
10th February 2015

In a world where females are scarce and are hunted, then bought and sold at market for their breeding rights, 15-year old Aya has learned how to hide. With a ragtag bunch of other women and girls, she has successfully avoided capture and eked out a nomadic but free existence in the mountains. But when Aya’s luck runs out and she’s caught by a group of businessmen on a hunting expedition, fighting to survive takes on a whole new meaning.




Dove Arising by Karen Bao
24th February 2015

Phaet Theta has lived her whole life in a colony on the Moon. She’s barely spoken since her father died in an accident nine years ago. She cultivates the plants in Greenhouse 22, lets her best friend talk for her, and stays off the government’s radar.

Then her mother is arrested.

The only way to save her younger siblings from the degrading Shelter is by enlisting in the Militia, the faceless army that polices the Lunar bases and protects them from attacks by desperate Earth-dwellers. Training is brutal, but it’s where Phaet forms an uneasy but meaningful alliance with the preternaturally accomplished Wes, a fellow outsider.

Rank high, save her siblings, free her mom: that’s the plan. Until Phaet’s logically ordered world begins to crumble


                                           A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas
                                                       24th February 2015

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.

Her family is long dead. Her "true love" is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept.

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.


I think these all look fantastic and I can't wait for them to release. I hope that these publication dates refer to the UK as well as the USA because I don't want to wait even a little longer!

Are you excited for these? What February releases are you looking forward to?

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

Sunday, 1 February 2015

January Wrap Up and Book Haul!

As part of my 2015 goals, I'm bringing you the first of (hopefully) twelve monthly wrap ups!

This month I managed to read fifteen books - which I'm very proud of. Especially since I had prelims and managed to balance the time between studying and reading (which I've never been able to do for the three years I've been sitting prelims and exams).

The fifteen books I read (in chronological order) are as follows:

Click HERE to access their goodreads pages!
Entwined - 3 stars | Snow Like Ashes - 4 stars | Fire & Flood - 4 stars
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown2.75 stars | Vampire Academy - 3 stars | Frostbite - 4 stars
Silverfin - 3 stars | Shadow Kiss - 4 stars | Crown of Midnight - 3 stars
United We Spy - 4 stars | The Darkest Minds - 3 stars | The Glass Sentence - 4.5 stars
Fearsome Dreamer - 3 stars | The Sin Eater's Daughter - 3.5 stars | An Island of Our Own - 3 stars
 
So the highest rating from me this month went to The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove - a fantastic novel. You can read my review for it HERE. I also wrote a review for The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury that you can read HERE. Other reviews I wrote in January for books I read toward the end of 2014 can also be found HERE, HERE and HERE. I'm very proud of the amount of reviews I managed to write in the month of January. Another highlight of January was taking part in the Suzy P. blog tour where I hosted an author guest post, which you can read HERE. I also wrote my first discussion post of the year - Simultaneously Liking and Disliking a Book...

At the beginning of the month I also posted up my blogging and reading goals for 2015. Unbelievably, I've managed to complete one (get a library card and start using it) and picked up my first graphic novel (my goal for 2015 being to read a few so I've not quite completed this one yet). I also completed 12 of the 50 tasks set by the 2015 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge.

Read a book that became a movie
Read a book published this year
Read a book written by someone under 30
Read a book with non-human characters
Read a book by a female author
Read a book with a one-word title
Read a book you can finish in a day
Read a book set in the future
Read a book with magic
Read a graphic novel
Read a book by an author you've never read before
Read a book you own but have never read

Though it wasn't a particular goal, I also read three books by British authors (these being Fearsome Dreamer, The Sin Eater's Daughter and An Island of Our Own). I'm rather happy about this because I've been meaning to read more UKYA and, just simply, more books from British authors for a very long time. It feels good supporting home-grown talent!

So, yes, January was the best month in a long, long time for me reading and blogging wise. Now, on to the books I received throughout the month.
 

The Boy with the Tiger's Heart by Linda Coggin | Received for review by Hot Key Books
 The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury | Gifted by Scholastic (have reviewed)
An Island of Our Own by Sally Nicholls | Gifted by Scholastic (will review)
Midwinter Blood by Marcus Sedgwick | Library book
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein | Library book
Flip by Martyn Bedford | Gift from friend
The Way Inn by Will Wiles | Surprise review book from Harper Collins
The Bees by Laline Paull | Surprise review book from Harper Collins
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas (not pictured) | Library book
Silverfin: The Graphic Novel by Charlie Higson and Kev Walker (not pictured) | Library book

Big shout out and huge thank you to the publishers (and Cat!) for sending some books my way this month!
 
How's January treated you? How was it reading and blogging wise?
 
Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo