Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Wrap Up | May - September 2019

Life is crazy. Blogging is hard. I read some books, let's talk about them while I have a spare five minutes!

In all seriousness, I am currently the busiest I have been in a long time and blogging has had to take a serious back seat. I am trying to post wrap ups when I can, but I doubt I'll have anything more than that for at least the next month or so. I've hardly even had time to read recently, which makes me quite sad, but I did manage 3 books in May, 3 in June and 3 in July.

Strictly Between Us by Jane Fallon -
This was a complete cover buy, but sadly not one that paid off this time. This follows a woman who uses her assistant as bait for her best friend's husband, who she is convinced is cheating, and things get very messy. It turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. I disliked most of the characters and didn't really see any kind of character development, they stayed selfish and unbearable for the whole book. I also wasn't a fan of the cheating storyline. I'm not someone who always dislikes cheating in books, I think a cheating plot can be done well, but I didn't like this one. Especially as I felt many characters did not receive any consequences for their actions and blame seemed to be placed predominantly on one party when many were involved. It did have some redeeming qualities; it has some funny moments, there was one characters I liked, and it was a pretty quick read for being over 400 pages. However, it was still a disappointment.
Rating: 2.5/5

Lucky In Love by Kasie West -
Speaking of disappointing reads, I am so sad to say this is possibly my least favourite book from one of my favourite authors. I adore Kasie West but this story just fell flat for me. This is about a girl who wins the lottery and has to deal with all the changes it brings, including how differently people are suddenly treating her. I'm generally not a fan of lottery win storylines and this was no exception. I didn't dislike the book, I just found the plot to be predictable and filled with unnecessary drama. The characters were fine but forgettable and didn't live up to what I have come to expect from Kasie West's books. I guess I can't love everything she writes.
Rating: 3/5

Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins -
This is the second book in the Royals series, a series following a Scottish royal family and American teens who find themselves involved in royal drama. The second book is set in a Scottish boarding school and find American Millie sharing a room with the princess of Scotland. I have such mixed feelings about these books as a Scottish person myself. After reading Royals, I claimed that it would have been a 5 star read had it not been set in Scotland as I found many of the inaccuracies too difficult to ignore. However, I went into this book with the mindset of the Scotland in this book being entirely fictional, which made it a lot easier for me to simply laugh at the inaccuracies and focus on enjoying the story. I think these books are so much fun! I love all the characters and particularly loved the boarding school setting in this second book. I also really enjoyed the romance and found myself really rooting for them from the outset. As long as you don't believe this is what Scotland is actually like, I would definitely recommend giving these books a try.
Rating: 4/5

The Second Summer Of The Sisterhood by Ann Brashares -
After reading the first book in the series two years ago, I decided it was definitely time to continue with the second book. The second book takes place the summer after the first, as the girls once again go their separate ways for the summer with the travelling pants to keep them connected. This was a different reading experience for me as, unlike with the first book that I read after watching the movie so many times, I did not know this story at all. I didn't enjoy this as much as the first, particularly as I didn't enjoy Carmen's storyline, but I still had a lot of fun being with these characters again. I loved Bridget's story in this book and really enjoyed seeing her character grow and develop so much. I can't wait to carry on with the rest of the series.
Rating: 3/5

Did I Mention It's 10 Years Later? by Estelle Maskame -
This short novella/bonus chapter was released to celebrate the anniversary of the release of Did I Mention I Love You? It takes place 10 years after the end of the DIMILY trilogy and was a lovely insight into how all of the characters are doing in the future. This was so lovely to read as I often finish books or series and wonder how the story would continue - if couples would stay together, new friendships would last, family issues would be resolved - so I enjoyed getting some of those answers. The DIMILY trilogy is a favourite of mine, so of course I loved this.
Rating: 5/5

Girl In The Mirror by Cecelia Ahern -
Let me just say that I adore Cecelia Ahern, she is one of my favourite authors. However, this wasn't for me at all. Girl In The Mirror features two short stories, one of the same name and The Memory Maker. One I thought was just fine, the other I didn't understand at all, but I couldn't tell you which one was which. In fact, I don't really remember a much about either. I think that tells you my general feelings. Disappointing from a favourite author.
Rating: 2.5

Listen To Your Heart by Kasie West - 
Kasie West is another of my favourite authors, as I already mentioned, and as far a I can remember I enjoyed this book. It follows a girl who ends up as the host of her school's podcast, which is completely outside of her comfort zone, and has to give advice to callers; including a guy asking for advice about his crush, who she believes to be her best friend. It was pretty typical Kasie West, fun and cute with a sweet romance and some nice friendships. It wasn't my favourite of hers but it did give a great Summer vibe, with the lake being a big part of the story, which was exactly what I was looking for.
Rating: 4/5

Did I Mention I Love You? by Estelle Maskame -
This was a reread for me. After reading Did I Mention It's 10 Years Later, I was desperate to go back and read this first book in the series again. I have a full review of this book, and the series as a whole, and I stand by pretty much everything I said in both. I did enjoy this more upon reread, I think as I had more of a connection to the characters and the story, but did still have the same issues as I had the first time around. This is my least favourite in the series, but I do still love this book, and the series as a whole.
Rating: 3.5/5 (maybe 4 this time)

Becoming by Michelle Obama -
If you don't know about this book, where have you been? This is Michelle Obama's memoir, following her life and journey to becoming one of the most influential women in the world. I have huge respect for her, I think she is an incredible woman, and this absolutely grew and grew while reading this book. I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Michelle Obama herself, which added another level to the reading experience. I felt as though she was sitting in the car with me, telling me all about her life. I found it so interesting to hear all about her upbringing, her career, and particularly to find out more about her as a person, rather than Barack Obama's wife. As with most memoirs, I did get a little bored at some parts, but overall, it was a really interesting and enjoyable book.
Rating: 4/5

And that is it. I didn't read a single book in August or September, which is so disappointing as that is the longest I have gone without reading a book in years! However, life is just so crazy at the moment. I am happy to report that I have read a couple in October so far, which I will hopefully be able to share with you at the end of the month, if I can get myself back on track. For now though, those were all the books I read in May, June and July.

What is the longest you've gone without finishing a single book this year? Any tips for finding time to read when life is too crazy?

Sophie :)

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Wrap Up | April 2019

I have been the worst blogger over the past month! April has been so crazy that I had time for nothing other than trying to survive my dissertation. However, now that is out of my life for good, I can get back to all the things I have been neglecting. As well as not having much time to blog, I didn't find a lot of time in April to read. I only managed three books in the month, which is more than March but considerably less then the first couple of months of the year. I did really enjoy all three of the books I did get to and even found another 5 star read.

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough -
With all of the hype surrounding this book, and the ending in particular, I knew I had to pick it up. I had not idea what to expect as I went in completely blind, but I definitely didn't expect that. This is the kind of book that had me confused for basically the whole thing. I had no idea what was going on, but that's what made it so intriguing and kept me completely hooked. I would definitely suggest going into this blind, which is why I'm not giving any kind of synopsis. It was one of the weirdest reading experiences of this year so far, but I actually really enjoyed it. The ending seems to be very hit or miss but I thought it was an amazing twist. It is quite rare that I'm completely shocked by a twist but this one managed it, it was great!
Rating: 4/5

Hard Pushed by Leah Hazard -
This is a non-fiction book, being published tomorrow, following Leah Hazard's journey as a midwife in the NHS. I have mentioned several times that medical memoirs like this are completely my kind of book, but I am often a little let down by them. This was not one of those books at all. I absolutely adored this book from start to finish. It was a real raw, genuine insight into the role of a midwife and the many challenges they face, particularly in an understaffed and underfunded health service. Yet the struggles and real lows of midwifery were well-balanced with fun and heartwarming stories of some of the amazing women and families that have been cared for. I just thought it was perfect and definitely confirmed my desire to one day go into this wonderful profession.
Rating: 5/5

The Start Of Me And You by Emery Lord -
After a good 3 years of sitting on my shelf just waiting to be shown some love, I finally picked up my second Emery Lord book. I really enjoyed Open Road Summer and knew I wanted to read more from her, but for some reason it took a lot longer than I would have liked. This one follows a girl who is trying to get her life back on track a year after the sudden death of her boyfriend. This book featured so many of the things I love, and didn't have the usual plot points that I really hate. We had a great friendship group that didn't have any unnecessary drama or fall outs over really stupid things. We had an adorable romance that wasn't instalove and started as a really pure friendship with no inability to use simple communication. Even better than all of those things, we also had platonic boy/girl friendships, involved parents and the sweetest grandmother. There was a lot I really liked about this book! There wasn't really anything I didn't like, but it just wasn't quite a 5 star read for me.
Rating: 4/5

I read a real mix of different books in April, but really enjoyed all of them. I know May is going to be another really busy month for me, but hopefully I can do a bit better with both blogging and reading this month. However, as long as I read some more books I enjoy then I can't complain too much.

What was the best thing you read in April?

Sophie :)

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

What I've Been Watching | March 2019

Life is not fun at the moment and it has been pretty difficult to find the time to blog. However, I have some time right now so I am making the most of it and finally getting around to sharing what I watched during the month of March.

The Vampire Diaries Season 6 - I used to love this show but got bored by the time I got to season 6 and stopped watching. I had always intended to finish it at some point, so when it was announced that it was being taken off UK Netflix I watched Season 6 in a mad rush. It wasn't taken off in the end, but I did get the push I needed to watch it. I fell in love with the show all over again and I can't wait to see what else they are going to do with it.

Death In Paradise Season 8 - I somehow managed to skip a season but that doesn't really matter too much with this show. I love this so much! It's the perfect combination of mystery and humour, with some of the most beautiful scenery you could ever find. I always love each new season as much as the last and never get bored of it.

The Disappearance Of Madeleine McCann - I don't know many people who didn't watch the Netflix Madeleine McCann documentary in March. I already knew a lot about this case with it being so widely publicised, but I did find this quite interesting. It definitely didn't need to be as long as it was, as a lot of it was pretty unrelated to the case and a bit boring. However, it was good to know more of the facts.

Captive For 18 Years: The Jaycee Lee Story - This was recommended after I finished the Madeleine McCann series and since I like a good true crime documentary, I decided to give it a watch. This was a case I hadn't heard anything about before so it was interesting to learn about. 

After Life Season 1 - After hearing so many people rave about this, I wanted to see what the fuss was about. This is a newer Netflix show about a man who loses his wife and has to come to terms with his life without her. It's a mixture of emotions with a lot of darker humour. I really liked some parts, but overall I was underwhelmed. It was just fine.

Isn't It Romantic - This was another underwhelming watch for me. I thought this would be my ideal film; a rom-com that pokes fun at rom-coms and has musical numbers. As much as I love this cast, the film just fell a bit flat. It was pretty funny but I got bored after a while.

That is all I watched in March. It's a bit of a varied bunch in March, but that just sums up my taste in TV and movies. 

Have you watched any of these? What did you think of them?

Sophie :)

Friday, 12 April 2019

Review | The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward

The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward
Series: The Potion Diaries #1
Published On: July 2, 2015
Published By: Simon & Schuster
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★★★
Amazon | BD | Goodreads

When the Princess of Nova accidentally poisons herself with a love potion meant for her crush, she falls crown-over-heels in love with her own reflection. Oops. A nationwide hunt is called to find the cure, with competitors travelling the world for the rarest ingredients, deep in magical forests and frozen tundras, facing death at every turn. 
Enter Samantha Kemi - an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Sam's family were once the most respected alchemists in the kingdom, but they've fallen on hard times, and winning the hunt would save their reputation. But can Sam really compete with the dazzling powers of the ZoroAster megapharma company? Just how close is Sam willing to get to Zain Aster, her dashing former classmate and enemy, in the meantime? And just to add to the pressure, this quest is ALL OVER social media. And the world news. 
No big deal, then.

Do you ever pick up a book years after buying it and realise you're not interested anymore? This was how I felt about this book. However, I decided to give it a chance before getting rid of it, and I'm glad I did. This is a really fun story of a girl searching for the cure for a love potion in a competition being followed by people all over the world (think The Hunger Games but less violent and deadly). It is full of adventure, fast paced, and generally a really enjoyable read.

The characters did feel a little underdeveloped, particularly the side characters who all felt quite similar. However, they were not bad characters. I enjoyed reading about them and hope to get to know them more as the series continues. The relationships between the characters felt a bit forced - the friendships didn't feel real and the romantic relationship happened very quickly. I do think these can hopefully be improved upon in future books in the series.

As I have mentioned, this is a very fast-paced book with a fun plot. I flew through it and didn't get bored once. There is always something happening. My only other complaint about this book is how convenient things were. This is supposed to be an incredibly difficult competition to find a cure no-one knows the ingredients for, yet all of these competitors just know what to do next or how to solve their problems. There is some very impressive guess work.

Despite having a couple of complaints, I did really enjoy this book. It is not the next great fantasy series, but it is a fast, fun read and perfect for those, like me, who don't tend to enjoy too much fantasy. This read a lot like a contemporary with fantastical elements, which I enjoyed. It is not the best written, most creative book, but it has definitely made me want to carry on with the series and see where it goes.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Haul | March 2019

I was doing so well with buying less books in 2019. I managed to not buy a single book in the month of February, which is a rare thing for me, and had yet to add a single physical book to my collection in 2019. However, I caved in March and added some shiny new books to my shelves. I bought 5 new physical books and one ebook, so I didn't go too crazy.

Goodbye Perfect by Sara Barnard - I have read, and loved, every other Sara Barnard book so it was time I picked up this one. This is about a girl whose best friend runs away with a random guy just days before the start of their exams and she has to try and deal with all of that. If her other books are anything to go by, I expect to love this.

Genuine Fraud by E Lockhart - I had no intention of picking this book up but it was on offer and that just made it too tempting to refuse. I don't have a clue what this book is about but the synopsis is so intriguing. It's just as vague as the synopsis of We Were Liars, the only other book I have read from E Lockhart, and that turned out to be completely different that I expected, so we'll see how this one goes.

The Potion Diaries books 1-3 by Amy Alward - The first book in this series was the first book I read this year and I really enjoyed it. I knew straight away that I wanted to continue on in the series, so when I saw the collection available on The Book People for a super reasonable price, I picked it up. It does mean I now have two copies of the first book but I will be giving one away to a friend. I can't wait to see how this series progresses.

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett - This is another one I knew nothing about but saw it on the Kindle store for 99p and bought it because I had heard of it. This is why I have too many books! All I know about this is it follows two characters who have issues with each other and are stuck in the woods together. It definitely sounds like something I could really enjoy.

That is everything I bought in the month of March. I'm really happy to have these books but I am definitely hoping I can get back to being good for at least the next month, my physical TBR is not shrinking nearly as much as I would like.

Sophie :)

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

What I've Been Watching | February 2019

I know I'm a month behind but I've been so busy, apparently watching a load of TV and movies, to be keeping up to date with blogging. I will have my March viewing wrap up coming soon but for now, I watched a lot in February so we better get started.

Blockers - This is a comedy about parents who find out about their kids pact to lose their virginity on their prom night and set out to stop them. It was just fine. It did have some funny parts but a lot of it wasn't really my humour. I really liked the cast but the film just fell flat for me.

Back With The Ex Season 1 - I was so hooked on this show, I watched it in like two days. I love a good trashy reality show and that was exactly that. It follows four former couples trying to work things out and get back together. I loved it, I'm already wishing for a second season.

Moana - I'm super late to the party with this one but I finally got around to watching Moana. I had heard such amazing things about it but I always watch Disney movies 100 years after everyone else. This is the story of a girl who is called to the sea but her family want her to stay and rule her island. I adored this film. The story, the music, the comedy; everything was done so well. This might even be my favourite Disney 'princess' film.

The Good Place Season 2 - I watched season 1 in January and ended up loving it so had to carry on. Season 2 was even better! I just love where they are going with this story, they have such creative ways of keeping it going. This show is hilarious and I'm trying so hard not to power through season 3 because I don't want to wait super long for the fourth.

Like Father - Oh I so wanted to love this! I love Kristen Bell and I'm going on a cruise later in the year so thought with this being set on a cruise ship it would be great to get me excited for that. Unfortunately, I was so bored. This is the story of a woman who gets left at the alter and, after a drunken night, ends up on her honeymoon cruise with her estranged father. The funny parts weren't that funny and the serious parts were just boring. This was a disappointment.

Friends Season 3 & 4 - Like I said in my January post, I am rewatching Friends as I have seen every episode but never watched it start to finish in order. I love this show and I always find it so comforting to watch, it's the one show that I will always watch when I'm ill. I'm really enjoying watching it again, no matter how many times I watch these episodes I will never get bored of them.

Abducted In Plain Sight - This is a documentary about a young girl who was abducted and it is quite possibly the strangest thing I have ever watched. I spent the entire time shouting "What The Hell" at my TV and just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, something else happened. It is so unbelievable and so incredibly screwed up that I still can't believe this was real life. 

That is everything I watched in the month of February. It might not seem like much for many but that is a lot for me, I tend to go through phases of watching shows and movies. 

Have you watched any of these things? What did you think of them?

Sophie :)

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Wrap Up | March 2019

I know I only just posted my February wrap up, but it is already time to share the books I read in March. I really can't believe we are in April already! My life has been so busy lately that this year is flying in. I didn't have a great reading month in March, due to that crazy busy life I was just talking about, so I only managed to read two books. However, one of those two books was a five star read so I'm not going to complain too much; quality over quantity.

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire -
I have been wanting to read more NA books for a while now and Jamie McGuire seems to be one of the most popular NA authors. I had this on my kindle for a while but decided to pick it up when I was needing a quick, fun read. This follows a good girl who becomes friends with a bad boy but, of course, they develop feelings for each other. I started off really loving this book. I loved the characters and the sexual tension, and despite the pretty toxic relationship dynamic, I was rooting for them to get it together and be with each other. However, I didn't like the way fighting was portrayed, it was never really seen to be a bad thing to go around punching people that annoyed you, and I wasn't a fan of the ending. If this book had just been the first half, I would probably have given it 5 stars.
Rating: 3/5

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Mijkamp -
I think I have mentioned before that I have a strange interest in books about school shootings. I don't know why, it's kind of strange. This is a book about a school shooting and one that I had heard a lot about when it was first published. I definitely can't say I enjoyed this book, given the plot and the horrific content, but it is one of the best written books on this topic that I have read. It follows multiple perspectives over the hour long timeline of the shooting, making it incredibly intense and difficult to read. I had to take breaks a lot while reading as it was written so vividly that I almost felt as though I was there. It was a very hard read, it was truly heartbreaking, but the overall message is one of hope.
Rating: 5/5

Those were the two pretty different books I read in March. I am definitely hoping to do better in April, but as long as I read some good books the number doesn't matter too much.

What was the best book you read in March?

Sophie :)