Thursday, 30 June 2016

And I Darken by Kiersten White

Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House for the ARC!

And I Darken was all I wanted it to be and more. It's a deep, dark and unique alternate history novel, set in the Ottoman Empire of the 1400's, just before the fall of Constantinople. Kiersten White takes Vlad the Impaler and replaces him with Lada, Princess of Wallachia. 

Previously, I didn't know much at all about this era in history, especially from an Eastern European perspective, so the setting of this book was so refreshing. It took facts from history and brought them to life with complex characters, political intrigue, wars, and intricate relationships. 

I absolutely loved Lada as a heroine, and the way that Kiersten White slotted her into the history of Wallachia and the Ottoman empire was flawless. The secondary characters - especially Lada's brother, Radu, and Mehmed, the sultan's son, also added so much to the story and I think the third person narrative worked so well in this book, as it meant that these characters thoughts and feelings weren't overlooked. The plot constantly kept me on the edge of my seat with its twists and sudden revelations, as well as the culturally relevant issues that it presents throughout, such as the way that Lada is constantly overlooked by everyone just because she is a woman. 

And I Darken is definitely one of my favourite books of this year so far - I loved it so much that, despite having the ARC on my kindle, I had to order the hardback today - and the only negative thing I can say about it is that I almost wish I hadn't read it so fast, as now I have to wait even longer for the sequel!

Sunday, 26 June 2016

June Fairyloot Unboxing

This month, we both decided to order our first book subscription box. After looking around at our options, we opted for the Fairyloot box - the contents of the boxes are always well thought out, unique and fit with the theme, the packaging is beautiful, and they're UK based! 

{by the way - this post will contain spoilers and photos of the contents of the June Fairyloot box. If you're still waiting for your box and want it to be a surprise, look away now!}

Both of our Fairyloot boxes arrived at the beginning of the week, and we were so happy with what we received! This months theme was "Classic Twist", and although classics aren't our favourite books, the items we received in this box were still neutral enough for us to love them. 

Here's what we got in the box: 

+ Funko POP! Vinyl from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies 

The first item was a full sized Funko from the recent film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith. We haven't read the book/watched the film, but these funko's still look pretty badass on a bookshelf. 


+ Brontë's Secret candle from William and Joseph 

This candle was absolutely perfect for this box - it has a really nice floral scent, and is so cute and quaint that it really fits with the theme!  


+ Earrings from House of Wonderland 

These earrings are absolutely adorable! Fairyloot boxes often seem to include a gorgeous piece of jewellery from an independent or boutique store, and these swallow earrings from House of Wonderland are no exception. 


+ Pack of three bookmarks from Fable and Black 

We aren't really users of bookmarks - I'm actually pretty sure that we'll use anything but a bookmark to hold a page in a book. However, these three bookmarks with bookish quotes are too perfect not to use! They all feature some well known book-related quotes, whilst still linking back to the classic twist theme.


+ Pride and Prejudice print from Fairyloot

Fairyloot's own contribution to their box was this beautiful watercolour style print, featuring a well known quote from Pride and Prejudice. We absolutely love book inspired artwork, so this was perfect for us!


+ Wristband from Chapter 5 

A little extra gift included in this month's Fairyloot box was a wristband from Chapter 5. It's a festival style fabric wristband reading "proud to be bookish", a statement that we can both definitely get behind! 


+ Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh

Of course, the main feature of any book subscription box is the book itself! This month we got Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh. This book has been described as having allusions to Pride and Prejudice, but set in prehistoric times. We'll be putting up a full review of it once we've both read it!

Alongside the book, we also received a promotional bookmark, postcard, a signed bookplate and a signed letter from the author.


That's it for this month's Fairyloot box! We've also both ordered the July box, Pirates and Power, so keep an eye out for our unboxing of that next month!

Did you order June's Fairyloot box? What did you think of the contents of it? (whether you ordered it or not!) Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, 23 June 2016

My Favourite Manson Girl by Alison Umminger

(I was kindly sent a digital copy by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

This book follows Anna, who after deciding she's had enough of mundane life, steals a credit card and books herself a ticket to Los Angeles. During her summer in Hollywood, she moves in with her actress sister and soon gets offered the role of researching the Manson girls for money. 
I went into this book without high expectations, what drew me to it was the fact that we had a teenage protagonist researching the once teenage Manson girls. I must point out early on that this book doesn't really have a plot, it is more the story of Anna's summer in Hollywood and discovering that the city isn't all that it seems. Whilst researching the infamous Manson girls, she begins to understand connections between them and herself as they were once her age. That's the moral of this story, in my opinion, teenage girls and their complexity. 
There is a romance element but it isn't the centre of the story, it flows along with it and even ends with an ambiguous ending. Jeremy was a nice character and I enjoyed his relationship with Anna, he represented the truth behind 'child-stars' and that there life isn't all fame and glamour. I really enjoyed Anna as a character which I didn't expect as she is only fifteen years old. Sometimes the author can depict them as being too immature and naive but Anna has the perfect balance, she is curious and skeptical. One of my favourite themes was Anna despising the fact that Charles Manson and his cult are the only ones whose names we remember. Other than the famous Sharon Tate, the victims names were lost to history. Why do the killers get fame when it is the victims that should be mourned and remembered? She also states that the only reason Sharon Tate is known is because she was a beautiful actress, only used for her looks. I think it is so refreshing that a young female character makes this connection.

'Sharon Tate was just a name, or a beautiful blonde, or an actress, or the wife of a director, or another woman who really became famous only when her life was over. When she went from being a body on a screen to a body in a bag. I wanted the movie to bring her to life, but the camera seemed intent on making her nothing more than a beautiful face and a banging body. It didn’t seem fair, not to her, at any rate.'

I really enjoyed the secondary characters. Anna's big sister Delia who is obsessed with her image and becoming a famous actress, their two mothers who handle everything wrong but in the end are just human, Dex who was just a decent guy and all the others. They all managed to have their own voice and their own story. Having it take place in L.A was an excellent choice because despite never visiting there myself, I refused to believe it was as perfect as everyone seems to think it is. Every town has its secrets and history. 

'I thought about the Manson family, driving around with blood on their hands, and how in Hollywood, you couldn’t tell the killers from the actors. If there was a stranger place on earth, I didn’t know where.'

Overall, I loved this book. The only reason I didn't give it the full five stars is because I wish it was longer and had a more detailed plot. However, the story carries itself without twists and turns. It is the story of Anna, of her growing up and the parallels between the Manson girls and modern teenagers. We all start somewhere. We find out about them before Charles Manson - the fact that they had their own identity before him. The ending was perfect to the story in my opinion. It ended openly and we can allow ourselves to image what Anna does next. I entered a different world whilst reading this book and I would definitely recommend it.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Top Ten Favourite 2016 Releases So Far

Today's topic is Top Ten Releases of 2016 so far. These are some that have been highly anticipated and although they have been met with mixed reviews, still prove that we all come together when a book is released to celebrate.

This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab
This tells the story of a world in which violence breeds monsters. Literally. Nobody writes monsters like Victioria Schwab and she does not disappoint with the start of her new series. We follow Kate and August, two very different people who have to come together against a threat and a beautiful friendship is forged along the way. 
Our full review is here.

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
Summer is not complete without a new Matson release. Her newest story follows the story of Andie, a politician's daughter who despite practically raising herself, finds everything in her life mapped out for her. Suddenly a scandal rocks her entire world but is this necessarily a bad thing? Andie finds herself having to live with her dad, walk an awful lot of dogs and reevaluating her entire life. Sit down on a hot summer's day and indulge in this epic story.

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Fans of Ruta's previous book 'Between Shades of Grey' will love her newest release. Capable of both making us realise the depth of love humans are capable of and the tragedy that has been our past, she tells the story of the people aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff during the Winter of 1945. Switching between different perspectives, we follow the heartbreaking story of the people fighting for their lives and a chance of escape. 

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
The sequel of ACOTAR was probably one of the most highly anticipated books this year and it did not disappoint. It follows the story of Feyre, a former huntress and newly turned fae as she realises her life and love for Tamlin may not be all that it seems. Teaming up with Rhysand, the High Lord of the Night Court and his inner circle, she realises she may not have found her home yet. A story of a beautiful romance, incredible world-building and interesting new characters, this is a series you just have to read. 

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton 
Set in the Middle East, this fantasy follows the story of Amani, an ambitious girl whose future only entails getting married and keeping a house. Refusing to meet this fate, Amani disguises herself as a male sharpshooter in order to get out of her town. However, she meets Jin, a foreigner who offers her the perfect escape. As they team up to travel across the dangerous desert on a mythical horse against a murderous army, they soon realise their feelings could be even more lethal.

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
The final instalment in The Raven Cycle, a story of a group of boys and Blue who attempt to track down a sleeping, Welsh King. It is the story of their friendship, love and a whole lot of psychic, mystical elements. Although we were not a fan of the final book, it was still a highly anticipated book that is mostly loved. Check the rest of the series out!

My Favourite Manson Girl by Alison Umminger
This book follows Anna, who after deciding she's had enough of mundane life, steals a credit card and books herself a ticket to Los Angeles. During her summer in Hollywood, she moves in with her actress sister and soon gets offered the role of researching the Manson girls for money. What follows is the similarities Anna notices between herself and the Manson girls, who before meeting Charles, were just normal teenagers.
A full review will be up on the blog soon.

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
The sequel to a trilogy, A Gathering of Shadows continues our story with Kell, a boy capable of travelling through different Londons along with his sidekick, Delilah Bard. This book focuses a lot more on character development as we find out more about Holland, the Dane twins and Prince Rhy. We delve more into the different Londons, each the same and yet entirely different. The third book, A Conjuring of Light is set to be released February 2017.

The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh
The Rose and the Dagger, the highly anticipated sequel to The Wrath and the Dawn and final book in the series, opens with Kohrasan on the brink of war, and Shahrzad separated from Khalid and taken to the desert. Now, Shahrzad must uncover her powers, protect her family, save her country from its imminent war and find her way back to Khalid despite being held amongst people who want him dead - all whilst trying to discover a way to destroy his curse. 

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner 
The Serpent King is about three teenagers living in a small town in Tennessee, Dill, Lydia and Travis. It is the story of them, their relationship and the events that happen before Lydia goes to college. The characters are different and unique: Dill is a musician, Lydia is internet famous and Travis who escapes into fantasy worlds, anything to get away from his abusive father. It is a book filled with excitement, adventure, friendship, family and love. It is a lot more than what the blurb offers.

What have been your favourite releases so far this year? Let us know in the comments below.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Never flinch. Never fear. Never forget.

A big thank you to the publishers, HarperVoyager, for sending us both ARC's of Nevernight! 


Nevernight tells the story of Mia, a young girl from a noble family who is seeking revenge for the death of her parents, who were seen as traitors to the state. Mia's ambitions lead her to the Red Church, a secret guild of assassins, to train. However, Mia has an edge - not only can she fight, sneak, steal, manipulate and kill, but she is Darkin - she can control the shadows around her and bend them to her will. Her shadow-cat companion, Mister Kindly, ensures that she will never feel her fear. 


Well, where can I start with this book? Nevernight absolutely blew me away. This is the badass high fantasy that I've been craving for so long. So, with high fantasy books, I have a list of necessities that all need to be included to make the story work for me: 

First off, I sometimes find with books of this genre that the political intrigue and action can be balanced incorrectly - in my opinion, you need both to make this sort of story work. Too much action will mean you won't care about the characters and the world so much, but too much politics will become boring. Nevernight has the absolute perfect balance between these two aspects, and that's one of the things that made me love it. 

Second, the characters. High fantasies are deep books, so we need deep characters to match that. Mia fits the bill perfectly here - she has secrets, she has a backstory, and she is mysterious. Even after finishing the book I still don't feel like I know her - she's still hiding things from me, and frankly, I need to know what they are, so despite Nevernight not even being released til August, I already need its sequel (this, I have discovered, is the one problem with ARCs). 
As well as Mia being perfect, the secondary characters are all top notch. Tric, Naev, Ashlinn, Mercurio, Jessamine... and I loved Mister Kindly, Mia's shadow passenger. One of my first bookish cross stitches was a quote from Robin Hobb's Fool's Quest - "the word of a cat is not to be relied upon", and I'm telling you now, I don't trust this cat as far as I can throw him (and since he's made of shadows, I doubt I can throw him at all). 

The third ingredient in the perfect recipe for a high fantasy book is the fantasy world and the world-building. I would live in the world that Nevernight is set in if I could - Itreya is completely inspired by everything Venetian, and the government is reminiscent of the ancient Roman Republic (actually, I wouldn't be keen on living under that rule, but if I could just live in the world without it's government, that'd be perfect). Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a complete history geek, and anything to do with ancient Rome/Italy is just about my favourite topic. This world was everything that the world of The Young Elites tried to be, but didn't live up to. 

Finally, and probably most importantly, the plot. I suppose this kind of brings my other points together, but Nevernight has a beautifully flowing plot, with just the right amount of action, political intrigue, character development and world building all together. The flashbacks throughout were absolutely perfect, and helped me to begin to unravel the mystery that is Mia as more and more of her past was revealed. Everything about this book was just so unique, and I already want to re-read it - I genuinely have never read anything like it before. 

My one tiny criticism is that the footnotes just weren't for me. I thought the beginning of the book especially was quite footnote heavy, and I think this is definitely just a personal preference, but stopping every now and then to read a footnote really distracted me from keeping myself absorbed in the plot. Like I say though, that's just my opinion, and a lot of them were very helpful when a place or event was mentioned that hadn't been explained in the book so far. 

One last comment on this book - I've seen a lot of people on Goodreads marking it as young adult. This book is not young adult. The majority of it is suitable for a YA audience, but there are certain more adult scenes in it that might not be appropriate for younger teens, or YA readers who aren't comfortable with reading very detailed adult scenes. This obviously wasn't a problem for me at all, but after seeing the issues when some younger kids thought that they'd love reading A Court of Mist and Fury as it was viewed as a YA book, I thought it was worth pointing out!


Nevernight is definitely one of the best books I've read this year so far, and I'd thoroughly recommend that any fantasy lover reads it. It's released on the 11th August in the UK and the 9th August in the US!

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Most Anticipated Releases For The Second Half Of The Year

This week's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the Broke and the Bookish, is our most anticipated releases for the second half of 2016. This week, we've just done one list as we're basically excited for all the same books, but since there are so many amazing looking books coming out over the next six months we couldn't narrow it down, so we've given you eleven rather than ten!

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott (26th July 2016)

We love a good Megan Abbott book, so You Will Know Me is definitely on both of our tbr's. It's the story of the Knox family, and what happens to them when a death hits the gymnastics community of which Devon Knox is part of. 


What's a Girl Gotta Do? by Holly Bourne (1st August 2016)

Well, of course feminist fiction will be on our most anticipated reads list. This book is about the awful consequences of a girl addressing sexism.


It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover (2nd August 2016)

This book has been proclaimed by reviewers as the best Colleen Hoover book, a tearjerker, and all in all, utterly soul destroying. I don't think any other reasons to read it as soon as possible are necessary.


A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir (30th August 2016)

This is the sequel to An Ember in the Ashes, so do we even need to explain why we need this book right now?


Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas (6th September 2016)

Ahh, finally. The fifth installment in the Throne of Glass series is coming out, and after Queen of Shadows, it's gonna be a tearjerker.


The Graces by Laure Eve (6th September 2016)

A little excerpt from this book:
Everyone said the Graces were witches. They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair. 
They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different. All I had to do was show them that person was me. 

Enough said, I think!


A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess (20th September 2016)

This looks like the beginning of an amazing new fantasy series - plus, it's a debut novel! *grabby hands* 


The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis (20th September 2016)

A dark, complex, contemporary thriller - what more do you need in a book?


Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (27th September 2016)

I have absolutely loved Laini Taylor since reading the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, and I can't wait to get a little glimpse into her amazing, imaginative mind again with Strange the Dreamer!  


Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (27th September 2016)

Well. The next, and last, book in the Six of Crows series. I have mixed feelings about this book. 
One feeling: I need this book right this second.
Another feeling: When this duology is over, it'll take a bit of my soul with it.


Heartless by Marissa Meyer (8th November 2016)

We love retellings. A retelling of the story of the Queen of Hearts by the master of fairytale-retellings, Marissa Meyer? Yes please!


What are your most anticipated releases for the rest of 2016? Are there any others we should look out for?

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

"Wouldn't we all look guilty, if someone searched hard enough?"

Dangerous Girls is a contemporary mystery thriller. It's the story of Anna, a girl who is away in Aruba for Spring Break with a group of friends, when one morning they find her best friend Elise stabbed to death in her room. Anna is immediately labelled as the prime suspect. The book follows Anna's desperate attempts to prove her innocence, and as the mystery is unravelled further, it grows clear that some members of the group are hiding things from the night of Elise's murder... 


Okay, I just read this book in one sitting and now my eyeball hurts. I am in too much shock to form a coherent review so I'll do some bullet points. Okay? Good.

- THE COMPLEXITY OF TEENAGE GIRLS AND THEIR RELATIONSHIPS. Were Anna and Elise more than just friends? Probably. Does it matter? No. I think we will all have our opinions about the nature of their relationship but deep down, it is two girls with an obsession with each other. And obviously, if you've read the book, obsession isn't always a good thing. 

- The entire justice system. I wanted to scream because it couldn't be real but at the same time, yes it is. We see this happen in real life, like Anna says, it is all like a well-constructed play and everybody has their parts. It doesn't always matter whether a person is innocent or guilty. Also the whole media coverage?? It really makes you think how much is real.

- Anna is such a complex character? I can't get too much into my thoughts about her because she is just one big mystery but woah, her character was so amazing to read. She was so unpredictable and also relatable to me. 

- Overall, this is a book that you will start and within a few pages, will become hooked by. I just wanted to get to the end (in a good way) so I could find out what happened. The novel includes transcripts, phone logs and even a floor plan which makes you feel so much more immersed in the story and trial itself. I haven't previously read any of Abigail Haas' work before but I definitely will from now on. I'm so annoyed that this book has been on my shelf for so long. 

- Go and read it!

- But prepare to have your mind blown!



Dangerous Girls is such a compelling read. I loved this book so much that I finished it in just a few hours - it drags you in and keeps you captivated throughout its entirety. I couldn't put it down as I had to know who had killed Elise - I really couldn't concentrate on anything else until I'd found out! Then, when I did find out, I was so shocked but at the same time, so happy. This book had such a perfect ending. 

Everything about this book was so complex, from Anna and Elise's relationship and what their possessiveness over each other entailed, to Anna's character in itself. I loved the way that the story unfolded, starting with Elise's death, and how the reader was allowed to see more and more of 'behind the scenes' and flashback moments as the book went on, as well as floor plans of the holiday home and other pieces of evidence used in the trial. It allowed you to form your opinion on each character and on who committed the murder, change those opinions constantly as the book went on, and then have your mind completely blown when you reach the end and find out that everything you thought you'd worked out in this book was a lie.

I can't recommend Dangerous Girls enough - I'm not always a fan of contemporaries, but this beautiful little contemporary mystery-thriller just blew me away. I can't wait to read Dangerous Boys!


Have you read Dangerous Girls? Let us know what you think of it in the comments! 

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Interview With Kathleen Glasgow

Recently, Angharad had the privilege of interviewing Kathleen Glasgow, author of the upcoming release Girl in Pieces. We were both incredibly moved by this book, so it was great to be able to get an insight into the ideas behind it's story!


Q: One of the things I loved most about this novel were the fantastic female characters; not just Charlie herself, but also Louisa, Blue, Linus etc. Did you already have these secondary characters fleshed out at the start of the story or did they come to you later on? Are they based off real life people? 

A: Fun fact: Charlie started out in early drafts with a twin brother! And she had a friend, Michelle, who morphed into Ellis in later drafts. They aren't based off real-life people, but when I was writing them, I was very conscious of the fact that I really wanted to explore the nuances of female friendship - how you can love your best friend so much, but feel intense jealousy for them at the same time, and sometimes be mean to them as a result. Blue was fun to write because in a way, she's a hero by the end of the book -- she has layers that are revealed gradually, and she becomes a beacon of kindness in Charlie's world. Sometimes the most unlikely people can become our biggest allies. I wrote the character of Linus partly to give Charlie an adult who could recognise what was going on in Charlie's relationship with Riley, and to guide her. 


Q: This story doesn't only delve into the dark world of self-harm but also touches on addiction, homelessness, abuse etc. Were you frightened about writing such heavy subjects and yet keeping that layer of hope that runs throughout?

A: I wasn't righted about writing those heavy subjects. I was more nervous -- I wanted to do them justice and treat them honestly and not shy away from their truths. But I also wanted to make sure to keep an element of hope -- that it is possible to find your way out of darkness, it is possible to recognise and accept help and friendship. You don't have to have suffered through what Charlie suffers to understand this book -- you will find yourself, or someone you know, in its pages.


Q: Charlie finds solace in her art. Did you find solace when writing this book? Was it important for you to share your story with the world?

A: Charlie's story isn't mine, though I did give her bits of my own experiences in life. I did find solace in writing her because I knew that her story would reach at least a few people who needed to hear it. The most important thing to me was writing the story of a girl learning to live in the world. Because it's hard to be a girl, and then a woman, in a world that doesn't value your intelligence, or your emotions, or your dreams.


Q: An age old question but probably the most thought of. Which character did you enjoy writing the most?

A: Ha! Well, I liked writing Blue, because I tried to give her little nuances, like the fact that she's a big reader, likes Lady GaGa, etc. And I have a secret crush on Evan, because he is that guy who would give you the shirt off his back in a blizzard. But of course my favourite character to write was Charlie: she's messy, she's beautiful, she's lovely, she's smart, she's sad, she's brave, she's hopeful, she's a spinning top, she's scared, she has life force to burn, I would be her friend in a heartbeat, I love her, and I want her to have a good life. 


Q: What message/reminder would you like people to take away with them after reading this book?

A: I want readers to know that there are Charlie's everywhere, even if you can't see it on the outside, and that there is a little bit of Charlie in all of us, and that we should be kind to each other. As Ariel tells Charlie in Girl in Pieces, "Because when everything is said and done, Charlotte, the world runs on kindness. It simply has to, or we'd never be able to bear ourselves." 


Girl in Pieces is released in the UK and US on the 30th August 2016. 

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Ten Things We Love About Reading

This week's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the Broke and Bookish, was an open topic - ten things we love about something bookish. We chose ten things we love about reading in general, so we can express our love for this little thing that's taken over our lives (in the best way).


Angharad's choices:

1. The way it lets you escape reality. 
Reading has pulled me from rock bottom so many times and it has helped me cope with the hard things in life. I can just open a book and leave this world and enter the fictional one.

2. The way it teaches you. 
I've learned so many things from reading and not just factual things but life lessons and morals. I don't believe I'd be the same person now if I hadn't read all my life. 

3. How it allows you to connect with other readers all over the world.
The mutual love of a book can unite anybody regardless of how different they are as people. Places like Goodreads where you can get book recommendations and read people's reviews. It's a beautiful community to be part of. 

4. It gives me an excuse to stay in bookshops for hours on end without the members of staff asking me to leave. 
It allows me to recommend books to complete strangers and just smell all the pages! Is there anything better than the smell of hundreds of books?

5. How it inspires you. 
Reading a good book can inspire you to discuss it, create art for it, photograph it. You can see yourselves in the characters, want to be more like them and inspire to be as courageous as them. 


Becky's choices:

1. You get to meet new people without actually having to interact with anyone.
I love people when they're virtual or fictional. Real life people, I find a bit more difficult. Therefore, getting to know characters in books and feeling like they're your new best mate is the perfect solution for someone who's always struggled to make friends, right?

2. It's a cheaper way to travel.
I feel like I've been all over the world, and to different worlds, thanks to reading books. Not only that, but they've helped me appreciate parts of the world and cultures that I previously knew nothing about, and also plan out future trips. I'm heading to Prague for a week in September, and that's all thanks to Daughter of Smoke and Bone!

3. How immersive reading can be. 
Countless times, I've been sat somewhere reading a book, and become so engrossed in the plot that I'll look up and have forgotten where I was. I'd much rather be in Middle Earth or something than sat on a cat-scratched sofa in my pyjamas at 2pm (which is usually the reality).

4. When you start a new book that you haven't heard of or don't know much about, and really enjoy it. 
I love it when you're in the middle of a book, and maybe you weren't sure about it or just didn't know much about it, and then suddenly, something clicks. This book is now your life and you revolve around it.

5. The emotions that reading a book can make you feel.
Books have made me laugh, cry, cringe, blush, gasp out loud. They've made me weep for hours on end and get teary whenever they're mentioned for weeks after. They've made me smile until my cheeks hurt. Reading can make you feel so many things and it's affected me so much throughout my life.


What are some of your favourite things about reading? Let us know in the comments!

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Girl in Pieces Review

We were kindly sent an ARC by Delacorte Press in exchange for an honest review.

Girl in Pieces tells the story of seventeen-year-old Charlie, a girl who is no stranger to pain and loss. In order to cope, she self-harms to the point that we meet her at a rehabilitation centre where she is on her way to recovering. She shares her experience with a bunch of other, complex females and it all seems to be on the right track until Charlie is told that she is being released. Faced with the reality of living on the outside again, she must find her way alone but is she ready to let people back in?

The first thing that struck me about this book is its format. The author breaks the first few pages of the book into 'pieces' which I found genius. At the start of the novel, Charlie is metaphorically in pieces and the writing reminds us of this. As the story continues, the chapters get longer as Charlie has more to say. When she is in a bad way, the writing gets choppy again, it is quite literally linked to Charlie's state of mind. As for the writing itself, it reads like a poem, it flows together. There are lines so heartbreakingly beautiful that they will take your breath away.
This isn't just a story about self-harm - the author focuses on addiction, abuse, homelessness etc. Every character in her book has a story and none of them are ever made to feel unimportant, they all have a voice. Charlie comes into contact with many different people during this book - the girls at the hospital, her colleagues at work and even the people who live in her apartment block. This isn't just a story about Charlie, it's a story of all the people she meets and how they affect her.
My heart ached for Charlie. I haven't felt that much sympathy for a character in a long time. Every time she found solace in her art, I wanted to cheer for her and I love that her art style changed as she healed. She is a survivor, she endures and sometimes she gets knocked down, but she gets straight back up. She starts off not talking and yet as she found her voice, she began to find herself. She starts the journey to loving herself and not being ashamed of her scars, she lets people in and she pulls herself away from rock bottom. I'm proud of Charlie, I'm proud that I could get to know her.
Kathleen Glasgow isn't afraid of delving into the dark world of mental illness. She doesn't skirt over Charlie's self-harm, Riley's addiction or Linus' alcoholism. Although these aren't light-hearted subjects in themselves, she still manages to maintain a layer of hope throughout the novel. She makes you root for Charlie and the other characters, hoping that they can heal and keep going. Nothing is romanticised in this novel and I am so grateful for that. It is evidently clear that Kathleen Glasgow put her heart and soul into this book. 
This novel reminds me that we need to extinguish the stigma that is attached to mental illness. It should not be a taboo subject and it's heartbreaking that it is something that is so common and I include myself in that. Charlie is a young girl who lost her father and her best friend, has an abusive and distant mother, is almost the victim of sexual assault, experiences homelessness and hunger but keeps going. She survives it and although her journey to recovery is far from over, she shows that you can do it. You can pull yourself out of it and I think that is such an important message, especially to the younger generation. 

This book will be released on September 6th and keep tuned because we will be posting an interview with the author herself soon!