Monthly Round-Up – March

march round-up_edited-1

April is (almost) here, and that means that it is time for my March monthly round/wrap up! The year is really hurtling by – I cannot believe that we are now technically into Spring (see ya Winter – won’t miss ya!). March was a very busy month for me and I had lots of personal stuff to deal with. I am actually really glad it is nearly over as March has never really been the best month for me and this year was no exception.

I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump the past few months. I am finally starting to get myself out of this but I made the decision to reduce my Goodreads Challenge this year. I had previously thought that 150 seemed a reasonable amount for me to get through but I have been struggling to maintain this level so I have now dropped to 100 books to read this year. It seems strange but it is really a load off my mind and it means I can get stuck back in without feeling any guilt over how far behind I have gotten with my reading.

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Books I read this month:

Social Skills by Sara Alva (4/5 stars)

Trouble & the Wallflower by Kade Boehme (4/5 stars)

Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens (5/5 stars)

read march 1

The Blue-Haired Boy by Courtney C. Stevens (5/5 stars)

Sia by Josh Grayson (3/5 stars)

Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin (4/5 stars)

read march 2

Spencer by J. P. Barnaby (5/5 stars)

Reclaiming the Sand by A. Meredith Walters (4/5 stars)

Not Just Friends by Jay Northcote (4/5 stars)

read march 3

Painting Fire on the Air by J. P. Barnaby (4/5 stars)

1/27: An ICoS Anthology by Santino Hassell & Ais Nym (5/5 stars)

read march 4

Books I reviewed this month:

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

dream

Yikes – only one review this month. I really need to get my finger out in April!

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Top Books of the Month:

top reads this monthI just couldn’t pick a favourite between these 3 books – they were all amazing in different ways!

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Top Cover of the Month:

top cover

It is just so atmospheric and dreamy – I love it!

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Personal News:

I finally caved and bought myself a Kindle Fire – I am so excited about it! I also bought a new laptop which I am ridiculously happy about. I have been pretty skint the last couple of months so it was great to finally have a little spare cash to upgrade my equipment. I also went on a bit of a book-buying spree as well!!

Blog News:

liebster-awardI was nominated for 3 Liebster Blog Awards this month! Big thanks to the bloggers who nominated me – Tiffany @ Beneath the Jacket Reviews, Jordan @ YA Book Madness, and Faith @ Faith’s Book Nook – you guys rock! I was really chuffed to be nominated. See my posts here and here for more details.

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I didn’t get a chance to post about Faith’s nomination yet (been super-swamped). I will not take part again because I have already nominated some of my favourite blogs this month but I did want to take the time to answer Faith’s questions so I am going to do this here (if that is OK):

1. How many books do you own?

I loosely keep track of all my books on Goodreads (though I have not yet catalogued all of them) and I have approximately 2000 books currently (that is a scary number!). I have only read about half of them!

2. What made you start blogging?

I really enjoyed reviewing books on Goodreads (and latterly Booklikes) but I thought it was quite limiting too. I wanted to be able to have a space where I could share all my bookish (and some non-bookish) thoughts. I decided spur of the moment to set up a blog – decided on WordPress as the host site and just went for it! I really didn’t get fully into it until a few months later though.

3. What’s the first book you can remember reading on your own?

The Sly Fox and the Little Red Hen by Vera Southgate. I used to beg my mum to read this to me over and over again. I finally knew the story word for word and started reading along to it. That’s how I learned to read!

4. What’s your favorite fictional couple?

That’s a tough one! I have so many that I really like but i think I will have to go with Adrian Ivashkov and Sydney Sage from Richelle Mead’s Bloodlines series. I love both of them (especially Adrian) and I think the complement each other so well.

5. What is the book you’re most looking forward to this year?

Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb for sure! Can’t wait to catch up with my beloved Fool and Fitz again!

6. What’s your all-time favorite book?

Still gotta be The Lord of the Rings. It has been my favourite book since I was 9 years old.

7. Who’s your favorite author?

Robin Hobb, closely followed by Juliet Marillier.

8. What’s your favorite food?

Pizza! I love cheese!

9. What’s your favorite color?

Purple and Turquoise.

10. If you could choose one fictional character to bring into the real world and make them a real person, who would it be?

The Fool without a doubt! Runner-up would be Mildmay from Sarah Monette’s Doctrine of Labyrinths series.

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wbd

I also wrote a small piece on World Book Day (celebrated on March 6 2014 in the UK). This incidentally was my 200th post on this blog!!

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100

I reached 100 followers on my blog (it shows higher on my homepage as it includes Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr followers). Thanks so much to everyone for following me. I was overwhelmed when I saw that my little blog had attracted 100 followers!

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 Discussion Posts:

Guilty Pleasures – We All ‘Ave Em

Bookish Pet Peeves

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Challenge Updates:

Eh…moving on!

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Popular Posts:

Just for Fun: which Veronica Mars Character are you?

The Liebster Blog Award

Top Ten Popular Authors I’ve Never Read

Top Ten All Time Favourite Books in the Fantasy Genre

Veronica Mars Movie – A Review

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Books I cannot wait for:

waiting march

I am excited for all of these books but Fool’s Assassin tops the list.

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Books I purchased this month:

See my stacking the shelves posts:

Stacking the Shelves: Week 5

Stacking the Shelves: Week 6

Stacking the Shelves: Week 7

Stacking the Shelves: Week 8

Stacking the Shelves: Week 9

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Movies I watched this month:

Thor: The Dark World

Veronica Mars

Almost Famous

Pitch Perfect

movies

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Television shows I watched this month:

My Mad Fat Diary

The Walking Dead

Once Upon a Time

tv

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Music I have been listening to:

Frozen soundtrack

Pitch Perfect soundtrack

The Cure

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Well, that’s my wrap-up for March. What about you guys? What were your favorite books this month? Favourite posts? Favourite articles? Other fun stuff you have done? What did you get up to in the month of March?

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Stacking the Shelves: Week 9

stacking the shelvesStacking The Shelves – a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews

Here are the rules:

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

  • Participants are to create their own Stacking the Shelves post and link bank to Tynga’s Reviews so more people can join the fun!
  • Posts can be laid out any way you want.
  • The host site posts updates on a Saturday but bloggers taking part can post any day they choose.
  • Visit Tynga’s Reviews on a Saturday and add your link.
  • Visit other participants sites to find out what they have added!

The rules are simple and it is a really fun way to showcase your books and see what other bloggers are excited about this week! Not to mention the fact that it is a good way to interact with and get to know other bloggers!

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Here are the books I have purchased this week:

stacking week 9 bought 1

stacking week 9 bought 2

stacking week 9 bought 3

stacking week 9 bought 4

stacking week 9 bought 5

Here are the books I got for free on Kindle:

stacking week 9 free

Books borrowed from Amazon Prime Kindle Library:

stacking week 9 prime

Here are the ARC’s I got from Netgalley:

stacking week 9 netgalley

Here are the ARC’s I got from Edelweiss:

stacking week 9 edelweiss

And finally…it’s online!!!

stacking week 9 online

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I went completely OTT this week. I bought so many books. I didn’t really request many from Netgalley/Edelweiss (most of them were requested in previous weeks) but to be honest I am totally swamped in new books – and I love it!!

I am so exited that 1/27: An ICoS Anthology is finally out!! I love the ICoS series so much – can’t wait to dive back in!!

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What books did you add to your shelf this week?

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The Friday 56: Reclaiming the Sand

Friday 56This is a weekly meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. The rules are as follows:

Grab a book, any book.
Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
Post it.
Add your URL post in the link on Freda’s most recent Friday 56 post.

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reclaiming the sand

Reclaining the Sand by A. Meredith Walters

Bully and victim.
Tormenter and tormented.
Villain and hero.

Ellie McCallum was a bully. No connection to anyone or anything. A sad and lonely existence for a young woman who had come to expect nothing more for herself. Her only happiness coming from making others miserable.

Particularly Freaky Flynn.

Flynn Hendrick lived a life completely disconnected even as he struggled to become something more than that boy with Asperger’s. He was taunted and teased, bearing the brunt of systematic and calculated cruelty, ultimately culminating in a catastrophic turn of events that brought Ellie and Flynn’s worlds crashing down.

But then Flynn and Ellie grew up.

And moved on.

Until years later when their paths unexpectedly cross again and the bully and the freak are face to face once more.

When labels come to define you, finding yourself feels impossible. Particularly for two people disconnected from the world who inexplicably find a connection in each other.

And out of the wreckage of their tragic beginnings, an unlikely love story unfolds.

But a painful past doesn’t always want to let go. And old wounds are never truly healed…and sometimes the further you try to run from yourself the closer you come to who you really are.

Synopsis from Goodreads

56%:

“I felt drained. Talking to Dania was hard at the best of times. But now, with my life changing in slow, incremental ways, I was finding it even more difficult to be around her.

Because now when I looked at my friend, I only saw a person I never wanted to be.”

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Love triangles: the ‘right’ guy vs the ‘wrong’ guy

love trianglesNow I get really annoyed with the predominance of love triangles in books (it is especially prevalent in YA). I find this trope to be one that has too much focus and often overshadows the plot. How many conversations about your favourite books are actually about who prefers which potential love interest? Why this one or that one would be right for the heroine? Which one would you date in real life? Etc. Etc.

It is a bit wearying but…that is not to say I do not sometimes get caught up in the resulting ‘shipper’ wars. As much as I sometimes feel I am too old to be so concerned over a book character’s love life, I cannot help but choose a side (or team) and stick to it (or him!). Here are some examples where I feel the right guy won (may be spoilers but I have greyed these out for those who haven’t read the books). This is only my humble opinion of course!

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5 Books with love triangles where the right guy won:

The Artists Trilogy by Karina Halle

artists

Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent

soul

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

unearthly1

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

hunger

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

vampire

This may come as a surprise since I certainly prefer Adrian over Dimitri – just not with Rose!

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Funnily enough, I usually tend to favour the guy who becomes the eventual winner (excuse the expression – don’t mean to make the female protagonist sound like some ‘prize’ to be won) but there are the odd occasions where I vastly prefer the other guy. Here are some example – again, this is only my opinion!

5 Books with love triangles where I wish the other guy had won:

Shifters series by Rachel Vincent

shifters

Hated Marc with a passion (to be fair I wasn’t a fan of Faythe either).

Daughters of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

forest

I prefer Simon over Red – don’t hurt me!!

The Grisha series by Leigh Badugo

grisha

I know this series isn’t over yet so things could change but I prefer the Darkling – sorry Mal!!

Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris

unraveling

I wasn’t the only one who thought Agent Barclay was a better match for Janelle was I?

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

bitterblue

I didn’t really buy Bitterblue and Saf – come on Giddon was way better. Could still happen right? The ending was left open…

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Have there been any books where you felt the right guy ended up with the girl or alternatively you prefered the other guy?

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The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

dreamI loved Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys (see my glowing review here) and I had high hopes for the sequel even though at the same time I also dreaded that it may not live up to my inordinately high expectations. I am pleased that not only did it manage to exceed all of my expectations, I loved the book even more than the first (even if I wished to get a bit more of Gansey – more on that later!). The Dream Thieves was an even more thrilling book than its predecessor (which is high praise indeed since the first book kicked all kinds of ass!). Maggie Stiefvater is da bomb (I apologise in advance – I do not know what possessed me to truck out that old saying but…it fits so I am going with it)!

We pick up not long after the events of the first book. The eponymous ‘Raven Boys’ are still trying to uncover Owain Glendower’s final resting place but also have to contend with yet another threat in the form of an elusive hit-man, the ‘Gray Man’, who is also on the trail. Gansey is struggling to reconcile Adam actions in the last book, they are all still coming to terms with Noah’s ‘status’, and Ronan’s secret has finally been revealed – he can bring objects out of his dreams. Blue also has a lot to deal with, getting to grips with her growing feelings for Gansey and what that means for her and Adam’s burgeoning relationship.

Where the last book had a slow build-up and more leisurely pace, this book has a much more driven narrative. I enjoyed the scene-setting in the last book but I am glad that this book had more energy to it – it made the stakes seem higher and the tension practically bled off the page in several key scenes. The plot was exciting and just as eerily creepy at times as the first book. It started off somewhat low-key but became a crescendo of action towards the end making it very difficult to put the book down (I tried but it just wasn’t happening!).

The plots left dangling at the end of the last book are continued here but although some answers are given, more mysteries are uncovered and I was left with even more questions than I had before which on one hand is great because it means I cannot wait for the next book but on the other hand is awful because it is still awhile before it will be released which makes me very sad. 😦

The characters were every bit as nuanced and richly detailed as in the first book. New characters were introduced but they enhanced the story and did not at all detract from the characters we have come to know and love. Ronan takes centre-stage in this book and although I missed getting Gansey and Blue’s insights (they still have POV’s – just not as frequent in this book) it was a delight to get to see inside Ronan’s head – he was such a mystery in the first book. I was happy to find out his abilities were not the only things he was hiding – there were little hints here and there throughout the book about where his inclinations go and I was happy that this was included in the novel. Adam started to annoy me a little. I felt for him in The Raven Boys but his self-pitying started to get a bit grating here. I hope that the next book will clear up some of the issues with him as I really do like him as a character (just not as much as Gansey 😉 ).

A fair bit of time was given to Blue and Gansey’s relationship and it was perhaps the best part of the book for me. I love these two characters, together and separately, and their interactions kept me riveted throughout. The relationship is subtly drawn – their feelings becoming more and more apparent but there is not only Adam’s feelings to consider, both Blue and Gansey have to keep in mind Blue’s ‘curse’ – that she is fated to kill her true love if she is ever to kiss him. Blue also knows that Gansey is fated to die sometime in the next year – a fact which causes Blue all kinds of distress as she is frightened that she herself could be the cause of his death.

Blue’s POV still had a good amount of page-time but I did feel that Gansey’s was severely limited in this book. I would have loved for him to have had a bit more presence but hopefully he will get a bit more time devoted to him in the next book. He is my favourite character and I was eager for more of him throughout – it was tthe only thing that I felt the novel was lacking in.

This was a fantastic entry in the Raven Cycle series and with every book Maggie Stiefvater proves herself to be one of the best voices in YA paranormal fiction. Her prose is lovely, her plots are engaging and her characters are truly out of this world. I have become a huge fan and I cannot wait to read her next book!

Overall score: 5/5 stars5 star rating

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Quotes I like:

“His eyes were frighteningly alive, the curve of his mouth savage and pleased. It suddenly didn’t seem at all surprising that he should be able to pull things from his dreams.
In that moment, Blue was a little in love with all of them. Their magic. Their quest. Their awfulness and strangeness. Her raven boys.”

“She wore a dress Ronan thought looked like a lampshade. Whatever sort of lamp it belonged on, Gansey clearly wished he had one.
Ronan wasn’t a fan of lamps.”

“He hadn’t realized yet that Gansey could persuade even the sun to pause and give him the time.”

“In some parallel universe, there was a Gansey who could tell Blue that he found the ten inches of her bare calves far more tantalizing than the thirteen cubic feet of bare skin Orla sported. But in this universe, that was Adam’s job.
He was in a terrible mood.”

“Calla readjusted, wrapping the silk around her other thigh instead. “Which one’s he again? The pretty one?”
Blue and Gansey exchanged a look. Blue’s look said, I’m so, so sorry. Gansey’s said, Am I the pretty one?”

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WWW Wednesdays: Week 7

www_wednesdays4WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

1. What are you currently reading?
2. What did you recently finish reading?
3. What do you think you’ll read next?

I am already taking part in quite a few memes but this one looked like a lot of fun so I couldn’t pass up the chance to take part!

answers1. What are you currently reading?

week 7 - current

2. What did you recently finish reading?

wk 7 - read

3. What do you think you’ll read next?

wk 7 - next

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What have you been reading this week?

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Waiting on Wednesday: Ashes to Ashes

wow1

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that showcases the upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating.

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Ashes to Ashes

ashes to ashes

New Year’s Eve ended with a bang and Mary, Kat and Lillia may not be prepared for what is to come.

After Rennie’s death, Kat and Lillia try to put the pieces together of what happened to her. They both blame themselves. If Lillia hadn’t left with Reeve… If Kat had only stayed with Rennie… Things could have been different. Now they will never be the same.

Only Mary knows the truth about that night. About what she is. She also knows the truth about Lillia and Reeve falling in love, about Reeve being happy when all he deserves is misery, just like the misery he caused her. Now their childish attempts at revenge are a thing of the past and Mary is out for blood. Will she leave anything in her wake or will all that remain be ashes?

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Synopsis from Goodreads

Release date:  September 16th 2014

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It finally has a cover and a synopsis!! So excited for this book!

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What books are you waiting on this week?

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Top Ten Things On My Bookish Bucket List

top ten tuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s theme is:

Top Ten Things On My Bookish Bucket List

war1. Read War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – I have started and stopped this book several times. One day I really need to read the full thing.

2. Read every Jane Austen novel – I have read a few (Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Sense and Sensibility etc) but I have not read them all. I would particularly like to read Persuasion since I have loved every adaptation I have seen so far.

3. Attend BEA (Book Expo America) – I would really love to go one year but since I live in Britain the chances of it happening are pretty slim!

4. Buy a bookish item of jewellery – I saw some really pretty pieces of jewellery on Etsy that I would really like to order.

5. Have my own personal library – I would love to have a room (or several!) fully dedicated to my books!

b&b library6. Find out the true gender of the Fool from Robin Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings series – I am of the personal opinion that the ambiguously gendered Fool is actually male but would love to find out for sure.

7. Have a discussion with some of my favourite authors one-on-one – I would love to meet my favourite authors! Top of my list would be Robin Hobb, Juliet Mariller, Richelle Mead, George R. R. Martin or Stephen King – to name just a few!

8. Get more signed books – I actually only have one signed book but would love to have more (preferably through meeting the authors at book-signings)!

9. Host a book club – This seems pretty unlikely since I know very few readers in real life. 😦

10. Complete The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge – A mighty challenge but it looks pretty fun! For more information go to these links here and here. I have only read 32 on the list so have a while to go yet!

rory reading challenge copy

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For more Top Ten Tuesday topics, check out the host site: The Broke and The Bookish

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Stacking the Shelves: Week 8

stacking the shelvesStacking The Shelves – a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews

Here are the rules:

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

  • Participants are to create their own Stacking the Shelves post and link bank to Tynga’s Reviews so more people can join the fun!
  • Posts can be laid out any way you want.
  • The host site posts updates on a Saturday but bloggers taking part can post any day they choose.
  • Visit Tynga’s Reviews on a Saturday and add your link.
  • Visit other participants sites to find out what they have added!

The rules are simple and it is a really fun way to showcase your books and see what other bloggers are excited about this week! Not to mention the fact that it is a good way to interact with and get to know other bloggers!

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Here are the books I have purchased this week:

stacking week 8 bought

Here are the ARC’s I got from Netgalley:

stacking week 8 arc 1

stacking week 8 arc 2

stacking week 8 arc 3

stacking week 8 arc 4

Here are the ARC’s I got from Edelweiss:

stacking week 8 edel 1

stacking week 8 edel 2

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OK I know I said I was going to lay off requesting ARC’s for awhile but I just couldn’t resist this week – there were just so many great books!! Next week I will do better (I hope anyway!)

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What books did you add to your shelf this week?

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