Best of the Week – 15/08/16

So it’s day two of mine (the last day unfortunately) and Ellie’s meetup and it has been awesome! Six years and we’ve finally met – it’s definitely been worth the wait. It’s given us some good options for our best of the week though as we’ve been up to different things.

For my best of the week I’ve picked a theme park called ‘Lightwater Valley’ which Ellie took us to today. I’m a big fan of theme parks already but this one was so fun (the company made it though). Even though I was dragged on several rides I didn’t want to go on, I managed to have a great time!

And Paige loved every second of it! I promise you all that (despite all of the screaming and ‘oh my goding). We had a great time. My best of the week will have to be Wetherspoons cocktails because nothing beats a Blue Lagoon! We drank way too much tonight and had an awesome time. However I’m super sad but that’s because Paige is going home tomorrow and I’m really sad to be losing the friend I’ve only just met. Bring on October when we get to meet again!

The Sky is Everywhere

Title: The Sky is Everywhere
Author: Jandy Nelson
Publisher: Walkers Books
Publication Year: 2013
Genre: YA | Romance
Rating: 3

“Doesn’t matter what anyone else would call it, Len,” he says. “This is our story to tell.”

What I would give to be able to remove a few parts of this story and tweak it ever so slightly to be able to make it better. The best thing about reading Jandy Nelson book sis that Nelso has a way with words that I’ve always admired. She writes and it’s raw feelings that get printed onto the page, I’m sure of it! Then every feeling that you read gets soaked up inside of you and you’re suddenly experiencing them yourself. Every quiver of excitement or drag of doubt. Every burst of love and even the harsh waves of inner turmoil. Nelson just has a way of inspiring emotions. It makes sense that her writing is so beautiful when you realise that Nelson is a published poet!

But once I got over Nelson’s beautiful beautiful writing and this gorgeous book (I’m not kidding, this book is seriously gorgeous! Before every chapter they have a lovely quote photograph and it just looks so good), I just couldn’t get into the story. One of the issues is that it has a lot of instalove. The moment that Lennie meets Joe she finds him hot and from there it’s just a straight leap to love. There’s no inbetween reall. But the one thing I couldn’t stand was that she didn’t just love Joe, she also had a thing with her sister’s boyfriend. That’s the thing irked me the most. Nelson tried to explain it but I just couldn’t see it as anything but wrong. It was so wrong. Especially as the novel developed and more things happened; I just couldn’t stand it. Perhaps it was okay at first but when her relationship with Joe began to develop I assumed it would stop. There were so many times when I was mentally-screaming “Lennie no!” only for things to get worse.

Despite that, there were moments of this book that had me laughing out loud. Gram was definitely one of the best characters. She brought so much comic relief to the story, sending me into the loudest laughs after everything had just been sad. Her family is just a ton of crazy weirdos and I loved everything single one of them. From her green-thumb Gram with aphrodisiac roses to her love drunk Uncle, who is believed to benefit from these magic roses (in the sense that he has had a lot of relationships!). This loveable family makes light of a terrible situation in their own way, fighting back against the sadness of losing someone close to them.

Then there’s the way death was handled. Those final chapters were so emotional! I swear it went from a regular story to just suddenly ripping at your heart-string and leaving you sobbing. It was terribly emotional and this is why it’s gotten as many stars as it did. 1 for the writing, 1 for the characters and 1 for the way that Nelson closed it all. It was so good.

I wasn’t a huge fan of this one but I know that a lot of people love it. I would definitely suggest giving it a go. I would love to hear what you all think of it~

Top 5 First Meetings

It’s that week, it’s the week! The week that Paige and I finally meet for the first time and I’m so excited! We’ve been friends for so long that it seems insane that the two of us haven’t met yet but it’s finally going to happen! So we just had to choose this for our top 5 of this week! There’s plenty of cute first meetings, but these are our favourites!

  1. On the Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher – This has to be one of the cutest meetings that I’ve ever read in a book! It’s not so much a singular meeting than a series of meetings but the basics are that the two of them met in a train station. He was a busker and she was a passenger and when she passed she left him a sweet every day until he finally asked her out on a date. In my opinion it was adorable and I think that Carrie did an amazing job with coming up with this one!
  2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë – Jane Eyre’s first meeting with Mr Rochester had to make it to our list. The scene is so dramatic and intense! And to top it off she doesn’t even realise he’s her employer – talk about awkward! I’d hate injuring my boss the first time I met them!
  3. Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini  – Imagine meeting a stranger for the first time and then just attacking them for no apparent reason, and to top it off – doing it in front of the whole school. Embarrassing right? That’s why Helen and Lucas’ first meeting had to make it to our list. If you haven’t read starcrossed, I’d certainly recommend it!
  4. Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan – One of the most rememberable first meetings of all time was when Percy met Thalia for the first time. After all, how many times can you say that you’ve seen a tree turn into a person? Not many I’d bet, but for Percy that was the first time that he ever met Thalia Grace. Bit spectacular, right?
  5. Cinder by Marissa Meyer – Finally we want to close by quickly mentioning Cinder by Marissa Meyer. There’s an abundance of ways that two people could meet and this one could be considered slightly overused but I really loved the way it was done. Cinder works on a stall at the local market and that was when the prince suddenly turned up out of nowhere. The prince! At her stall! Of course she just had to be embarrassed by her robot best friend.

Do you have any favourite first meetings? If so feel free to tell us!

A Study in Charlotte

Title: A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes #1)
Author: Brittany Cavallaro
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Year: 2016
Genre: Mystery | YA | Romance
Rating: 3.5

“Like you said, you can take care of yourself,” I told her, finally. “If you murdered hm, I bet there would be twenty witnesses who saw him put the gun to his own head.”

I adore Sherlock Holmes novels. I think I’ve read all of them as well as the many spin offs that have come as a results. As far as I’m considered, nothing can beat the BBC show – I can’t get enough of that awesomeness – but I am constantly searching for something just as good for these long seasons breaks, which brought me to rewrites. Some of them are brilliant and funny while some are like this and sort of a flop. Don’t get me wrong this was a fun read, I just found it a bit lacking at times and it didn’t really cover some serious subjects properly, or at least as far as I’m concerned it didn’t.

So first things first, the use a murder from a book to frame a real life murder is getting a little overused for me. I’ve seen it done quite a few times in literature and while it’s cool it’s getting a little repetitive. Having said that, one of the things I liked about the way Cavallaro has done it here, is reading about James’ reaction to it. James Watson is the voice of A Study in Charlotte and I found it rather humorous reading the scenes shortly following the murder when he commented on the original Watson’s writing of it. It just made me laugh. Especially the one where he talks about how he really doesn’t understand what was going through Watson’s mind when he wrote that scene.

Admittedly James’ narration of the novel is very funny at times. It was well-written and he is really witty and funny, which makes the whole thing very entertaining. However at points I was a little disappointed at the YA route the novel took. I love a bit of Johnlock but in this book it just felt forced to me from the very beginning. He was obsessed with Holmes at first, always talking about her and the way he flew to her defence in the beginning was something straight out of a twilight novel. As the book developed and we got to know more characters, I found his obsession with Moriarty (or Moriarty and Holmes’ relationship) a little annoying. I get that it would be a popular ship, but part of me wanted this just to be a best friend relationship. However they appeared to be destined from the very beginning.

I also want to point out that while this is a retelling (of sorts) the characters don’t have to be identical to their predecessors. I feel like this is always an issue that comes up in adaptions and I definitely felt it here. Just because Charlotte is Sherlock’s great grand-daughter doesn’t mean that she also has to be stellar at deductions, a violin player, an ass, and a hardcore drug addict on top of everything. She just felt too much like carbon copy at times.

Which brings me to the issues that I felt weren’t handled properly. For starters her drug addiction: Charlotte is addicted to oxy but no one seems to do anything about it. She also smokes and again receives no comment or aid with this as far as I can tell. I just feel like this in a teenager would have been reacted on a lot more than in the adult Sherlock. Not to mention the scene with Dobson is completely glossed over and James seem to be the only person angry about this! This would have had a much bigger reaction in modern day but people are more obsessed with the murder and Holmes and Watson rather than that. I just found it a bit unrealistic, especially the way it all happened.

The last thing that bugged me was the ending. For the entire novel we were fed little bits of information and then right at the end the murderer was revealed and suddenly we get all of the information, at once. It was wildly confusing, only made more so by James’ writing. I just think that this could have been handled a lot better, especially when the facts about the first murder came out. I feel like Holmes’ would have had more of a reaction to that, but she didn’t.

Altogether I did like this book, don’t get me wrong it was funny at times and had a decent plot. But I just felt like it was trying to hard to be the original duo in modern times, with a twist. And it also badly advertises drugs and smoking. As well as uses an incredibly traumatic experience as a minor plot point. 

Throne of Glass

Title: Throne of Glass
Author: Sarah J Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Year:2012
Genre: Fantasy | Romance | YA
Rating: 3

Still the image haunted his dreams throughout the night: a lonely girl gazing at the stars, and the stars who gazed back.

I feel like I always read books in the wrong order. I’ll finish one book and I’ll be gushing about it to someone and they’ll just go “yeah but have you read their other series?” and I just sort of blanch. Most of the time I end up reading other series before an author’s most famous and this happened to me again with Throne of Glass. I fell in love with the ACOTAR series and then discovered that Maas had an entirely different series, with a badass assassin as a main character and I was over the moon. Naturally I ordered them all instantly. Now I’m not so sure I should have rushed into things as quickly as I did. It’s not that I hated this book, I just think I expected more than it gave me.

Going into this book I was ensured that she was as epic as Frodo and that the book was reminiscent of Game of Thrones and those are some big names to live up to. Needless to say I was prepared for awesomeness and at the start I got it. It was hard not to like Celeana at the start. She was smart and bitchy and acted exactly like I would have expected an A grade assassin to act after being stuck in the prison. She bigged herself up and given her attitude, I could totally believe the reputation. Perhaps, if she’d stayed that way for the entire novel I would have enjoyed Throne of Glass a lot more. As it happens, she began to slip for me for countless reasons.

One the attitude stayed. There were many times when we were heard about how amazing Celeana was but it wasn’t showcased until towards the end of the trials. Furthermore she’s obsessed with books! I’ve got nothing against books, I love books and bookworm characters. But when a tough hard-ass assassin who is training for a life or death competition the next day chooses to stay up all night reading instead, I can’t help but feel a little disbelief. Not to mention the fact that she appears to sleep through almost every time someone enters her bedroom. She even slept through the Crown Prince (who I imagine can’t be the quietest) sneaking into her room to leave a pile of chocolate and sweets on her bed. What sort of assassin wouldn’t wake up to that? Surely the greatest assassin in the world wouldn’t sleep through what could have been a potential murder attempt, especially with everything that was going on. There’s also the fact that most of the time she is complaining about her clothes, about the fact that she wasn’t invited to balls and, most importantly, the fact that the guy didn’t joke with her like someone else, so he must find her unattractive. After spending a year trapped in a salt mine, I assumed she would have had more important things to worry about like the impending competition and trials that she had to complete to in order to ensure she didn’t get sent back there?

Then there was a love triangle. Love triangles are the bane of my existence, and it was just my luck that there was one in Throne of Glass as well. Personally, I wasn’t a huge fan of this one either. Chaol I don’t mind. Chaol was calm, respectable and their relationship seemed a lot more realistic. From the get go he was suspicious and careful around her as one should be with the most feared assassin the Crown Prince takes an entirely different route. Chaol and Celeana’s relationship is a slow build but for me Dorian and Celeana’s seemed to much like instalove. From the get go they are flirting and she’s batting her eyelashes and getting things out of him. Not to mention all of the eye glances. And don’t mention the ending of all this to me because we all know what’s going to happen next.

Also what the hell is up with the glass castle? It was barely touched upon at all, it was just a random castle made out of glass thrown in there. Not to mention that the book is named Throne of Glass but even at this point I have no idea why? I’m assuming it has something to do with the glass castle but I’m not sure.

My main issue was that this book seemed more romance and playing princess that it actually did fantasy. When we got to the actual plot though (Maas glosses over a fair bit of the competition in my opinion) I really enjoyed it. The bits of the competition I read were entertaining (although perhaps a little benign considering who was competing and what they were competing for) and the fantasy parts may be the reason that I actually continue reading this! I liked reading about the Wyrdmarks and Wyrdgates and I was intrigued by the dark creatures.

Nehemia was also a shining star for me in this one. As a POC character in what I assume was a world of white characters aside from her guards, I was already rooting for her. I love POC characters and while I would prefer more than one as an MC I could handle it. Nehemia was a curious characters. She arrives randomly, without a proper explanation, and instantly befriends Celeana over the assassin’s knowledge of her native language. After that a friendship blooms and it’s one that I enjoyed reading about. The scenes with Nehemia may be some of my favourite and I can’t wait to see what happens with her in later novels.

All in all I’m a bit sceptical about continuing to the rest of the series but I’ve heard those books are better. But I might take a break before I do it. Also, by any chance, (potential spoiler but I don’t know because it’s a guess)

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Best Of The Week

Best of the week once again, I’m normally complaining about the week going by so quickly but I’m actually happy about it because it means the day me and Ellie meet up is coming quicker!

I’ve actually just come back from the cinemas, so for my best of the week I’m going to pick a film. I went to watch ‘the shallows’ which is about this girl who gets stranded on a rock in the ocean with a shark circling her in the sea. It’s so good, and it was really tense so I was literally on the edge of me seat throughout the film. It also has the lovely Blake Lively in it which is also a good reason to go see it.

Only a week to go! I’m so excited!! This week I just recently got back into Please Like Me and season 2 was brilliant and it made me so happy! I’ve just started season 3 and while it’s not as good it’s still quite good! I don’t think it’ll ever be as good as Looking (that show is crazy and amazing and I love it) but it’s a nice thing to fill the break with 😊

The Raven King

Title: The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #3)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Year: 2016
Genre: Fantasy | YA | Romance
Rating: 3.5

He was a king. This was the year he was going to die.

Well that’s it.

I’m done.

I have absolutely no idea how I’m going to recover after this series. I just hope that Cursed Child can help me to get over these.

Admittedly out of all these books I feel like this one was the weakest, which was a little sad considering it was the last in the series. But it also had a lot to cover and I think it did an okay job at it. However there were a lot of things that I didn’t enjoy. I swear I was ready to kill Stiefvater by the time I got to the last chapter and I had to read ‘Depending on where you began the story‘ one last time. I love the whole repeated chapter starters. In Once it was quirky and different but in this it just made me want to rip my hair out. The one good thing out of it was that she acknowledged all of her characters, major and minor and I thought that was a really good way to bring the book to a close.

In addition to above, her writing also irritated me in this one. A lot. I didn’t mind it as much in the last books because I loved the effect that it created but in this one it felt like she was trying to hard. Repetition is a great tool at an author’s disposal but it feels like Stiefvater had only just discovered this technique and decided to use it on hyperdrive. There were so many scenes where she repeated herself multiple times for what I assume was to improve the scene but really only irked me. I also felt like this was rushed, way too rushed. There were some good bits but the chase scene, the fight scene, the kiss scenes all seemed to be glossed over in favour of other things and I didn’t really find that interesting after reading three books of build up!

One of the other things that I found annoying was the introduction of a character, who hadn’t only briefly been mentioned before, who suddenly became a main character. Also is he the only POC character in this novel?! Bonus points to Stiefvater for being LGBT friendly but where are all the POC characters? Not to mention everyone who is introduced appears to have some sort of power or magical knowledge. How on Earth was this thing kept under-wraps when everyone seems to know something or someone or have some sort of connection with this entire thing? I found myself looking at new characters wondering what they could do. I was never 100% sure how they were going to but I knew they were going to fit in somewhere.

At least my Raven Boys didn’t let me down! The misfits were still as brilliant as I remembered, or at least some of them were. Ronan was still an idiot and a badass and his friendship with Blue in this one came out of nowhere but I loved it. Their conversations were brilliant and he seemed just like a misleading trouble-loving big brother! Then there was his relationship with Adam, which was also great. I loved watching them working together and trying to figure everything out. However I felt like this forced Blue and Gansey to take a backseat. They didn’t really seem to do much at all this novel except for pursuing their relationship and Gansey attempting to come over his fear, until right at the end.

Also where’s Noah?! He was barely mentioned at all and I missed him! It also felt like he’d been replaced by the new guy, which I really hated 😦

But despite all the bad points I’ve made, I did like this book! I just wasn’t 100% happy with how things turned out. I had a list of things that I wanted when I went into this novel. I wanted them to find Glendower. I wanted Pynch to finally happen. I wanted to find out how Blue’s curse was going to come to a close and I wanted to be happy with the ending. I got 3 out of 4.

Would I still recommend reading this series? Definitely! The ending wasn’t perfect but it was good and I was content with it, there were just a couple of plot holes, which I’m probably going to stick this under a read more because some of these are spoilers. So read ahead at your own peril if you haven’t read the novel yet!:

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