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Thursday, 28 May 2020

The Waiting List: All the Books to Look Out For in June

The Waiting List is a feature hosted by PrintedWords&, to highlight some of the new, exciting releases for the upcoming month!

Seems like the month to drop the latest book is June! I was slightly overwhelmed by how many were listed to be released by finally managed to find the ones that I'm most excited for. 

I talk about my top 5 most anticipated books for June in my latest video!




Other books that are also worth keeping an eye out for!



You Don't Live Here by Robyn Schneider
Release Date: June 2nd, 2020
YA Contemporary/LGBTQ+

Sasha Bloom is forced to live with her grandparents after her house collapses, taking her mother with it. Her grandparents encourage Sasha to behave and look a certain way to achieve the perfect life, including dating Cole Edwards. At first Sasha follows along but she starts to question what she wants after meeting Lily Chen. She finds she wants to learn new things and discover new adventures with Lily, but she isn't sure where else it will lead to.



Little Creeping Things by Chelsea Isacho
Release Date: June 2nd, 2020 
YA Thriller

Cassidy Pratt accidentally killed her neighbour when she was a child. Since then the neighbourhood bullies, especially the popular girl Melody Davenport, have not stopped talking about it despite Cassidy wanting to forget about it. Then one day Melody goes missing. Cassidy thinks she can help find Melody but she's afraid of stepping up, having recently joked about killing Melody in the perfect way. To make matters worse, she receives a text saying "I'm so glad we're in this together." Cassidy has to find Melody, and fast. 


Forest of Souls (Shamaborn #1) by Lori M. Lee
Release Date: June 23rd, 2020
YA Fantasy

Sirscha Aschwyn spends her childhood training to be the queen's next royal spy. Amidst this, her best friend, Saengo is attacked by shaman and die. However, Sirscha is able to bring her back to life. This catches the attention of the Spider King, who needs her newly found "soulguide" abilities to help him save his realm or face losing Saengo again. 




Seasons of the Storm (Seasons of the Storm #1) by Elle Cosimano
Release Date: June 23rd, 2020
YA Fantasy 

Jack Sommers finds himself with eternal life after having to choose between life or death under Gaia's magical guidelines. He now embodies Winter, and spends his life chasing after the season that comes before him. However, when he meets Fleur (Spring) their love blossoms and now they must face the dangers of trying to escape Gaia's grasp to live a normal life together.



What's On Your Waiting List?


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Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Opening Lines

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and The Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

I haven't done a Top Ten Tuesday post in years but I'm excited to partake in this feature again!

Top Ten Opening Lines
(we're talking best, funniest, favourite, gripping etc.)
















What Are Your Favourite Opening Lines?


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Sunday, 24 May 2020

A Full Five Stars For "A Thousand Pieces of You"

Title: A Thousand Pieces of You 
Author: Claudia Gray
Series: Firebird #1
Publication Date: November 4th, 2014
Add to Goodreads
Marguerite Caine's physicist parents are known for their groundbreaking achievements. Their most astonishing invention, called the Firebird, allows users to jump into multiple universes—and promises to revolutionize science forever. But then Marguerite's father is murdered, and the killer—her parent's handsome, enigmatic assistant Paul— escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite refuses to let the man who destroyed her family go free. So she races after Paul through different universes, always leaping into another version of herself. But she also meets alternate versions of the people she knows—including Paul, whose life entangles with hers in increasingly familiar ways. Before long she begins to question Paul's guilt—as well as her own heart. And soon she discovers the truth behind her father's death is far more sinister than she expected.

Review


I will admit I am super late to A Thousand Pieces of You having purchased this when it was first published but never attempting to read it. Truth be told, I thought I had tried to read this and ended up DNF'ing. How embarrassingly wrong I was. I say this because of how impressively creative, clever and thrilling A Thousand Pieces of You is. 

I was quickly captivated by Marguerite's journey, not just because of how exciting the storyline is but also because of the writing style and layout of the plot. I have come to love both fast paced reads as well as quick starts, in that the author dives right into the adventure and relies on flashback and character conversation to relay past/off-page events. When A Thousand Pieces of You starts, Marguerite's father has already passed away in the accident and travel into parallel universes happens within the first 20 pages. It's quick, to the point and sets an intensity for the rest of the book. 

Gray also impressed me with how clever and thought-provoking the read is - possibly the main reason why I loved A Thousand Pieces of You. The concept of parallel universe is not a new one, but Gray kept it interesting and somewhat unique in both her theory as well as the scientific invention - the Firebird - that aids in travel between dimensions. In fact, I would say the way she explained the concept, coupled with the device, made for a rather believable read. I liked that she was thorough enough so there wasn't any confusion but didn't overload the plot with just scientific explanations that it turned into a science textbook. The creation of the device also demonstrates how smart and creative Gray is! I will admit I'm definitely intrigued by the idea of parallel lives and time and space in general, so A Thousand Pieces of You does cater towards my interest, which added to my love fort his book. I was actually reeling different theories through my mind whilst reading as well - that's how engaged I was. 

Another factor that I really liked was the simplicity in Gray's writing. She doesn't add flashy, flowery expressions, which I appreciated. It meant that I could focus on the plot and the events rather than be distracted by pretty, whimsical prose. It's clear and succinct yet, still descriptive enough for me to envision each scene. In fact, the different universes Gray creates still remains vividly memorable in my mind. I won't delve into what the parallel worlds are, because that would be spoilers, but each world had its own unique features, which really made me want to go to and discover as well.

I definitely think A Thousand Pieces of You was a super fun, albeit dark, and engrossing read. The fact that I flew through this in less than 2 days says how much I was invested in the story and quickly loved it. I cannot wait to devour the rest of the series!


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Tuesday, 19 May 2020

A Book Haul 3 Years in the Making

It's honestly been some time since I've shared what books I've purchased, mainly because I wasn't reading as much in the last 3 years, which meant a serious decline in the purchase if books. My bank account was happy about it, so I can't really complain, and when I did buy a book it was more because I wanted to read it and not because I felt like I wanted to buy it for the sake of buying.

I had a lot of fun filming this though, forgetting how exciting book hauls can be! If you've read any of the books I've mentioned definitely let me know what you think.


What Books Have You Bought Recently?


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Sunday, 17 May 2020

Kate Morton Continues to Prove Why She is One of My Favourite Authors in "The Clockmaker's Daughter"

Title: The Clockmaker's Daughter
Author: Kate Morton
Publication Date: September 28th, 2018
Add to Goodreads
In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe's life is in ruins. 

Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist's sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river. 

Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets?

Review


I honestly believe that a reading experience can be greatly affected by the mood you're in or intentions you have whilst reading, which is to say that sometimes it's not fair to judge a book if I am never in a great mood while reading it or didn't feel like reading but forced myself to. I say this because for the first third maybe, or even half of this read, I wasn't in a terrible reading slump and was not enjoying any of the things that usually made me happy. I felt like I needed to read because if I didn't I was letting myself down and because of this, it caused me to read The Clockmaker's Daughter begrudgingly and very slowly. At first I put this down to the plot not being able to grab my attention and the pacing slow. There was a lot of jumping to and from different time periods and the voices and tense would change, causing me to become frustrated in the inability to understand what I was reading. So I put it down, for a very long time. 

To my surprise, I came back to The Clockmaker's Daughter after a few months and became completely enthralled. I was absolutely captivated by Morton's writing and the story that was unfolding in front of me. I couldn't believe I had doubted her storytelling ability, as there hasn't been one read from Morton I haven't thoroughly enjoyed. Whilst I plodded through the first half of the book, the second book I whizzed through before realising I had already reached the end. The characters began to jump out at me, with their voices drawing me in emotionally and compelling me to stay with them as each of them went through their own personal journeys, ultimately arriving at a somewhat destination, both literally and figuratively. I was also shocked at how much I still retained whilst I continued to read, which meant that even if I felt like I wasn't understanding, Morton still left quite an impression on me through her thorough and vivid writing. 

In fact, the beauty about Kate Morton's books lies in her incredible storytelling. She is able to devise a complex plot, spanning across many years and generations, involving many characters (although not always known to each other) and be able to tie it all together at the end with a flourish. If you ever need a reason to read anything from Morton, it's the shocking endings she drops on you, with absolutely no warning. There is simply no way to deduce what is to come, unless you're a psychic. When I read the plot twist to The Clockmaker's Daughter I realised just how wrong I was in judging the book the way I had previously. It was an immense shock and I immediately put the book down because I didn't want to believe that was had happened in the past. However, as much as I didn't like the revelation, it was more because I found it to be too heartbreaking and was only hoping for a somewhat happier plot progression, not because of Morton's writing and plot. If anything the truth behind the mystery was a lot more impactful, serving to emphasise the importance of not being judgemental and how there are always two sides to a story. Also, that humans are complex. We are a bundle of emotions that can really drive our way of thinking and behaviours, and whilst we may not act in a certain way, the ability to empathise/sympathise would do us a lot better than we think. I also liked the exploration of staying true to one self, how strong our desires can be and that we may not always have control over the situation we're in but rather control on how we react to those situations. 

Again, I can't believe I would doubt one of my favourite authors. Morton has managed, as always, to deliver a beautiful, thought-provoking and genius read that remains as memorable as her other reads.



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Saturday, 16 May 2020

Five Movies & TV Shows That Will Delight Your Inner Child

I'm not sure if it's because I'm still a 12 year old trapped in a 25 year old body, but I absolutely love watching kids movies and shows. These day shows or movies aimed at children are so much more different than what I grew up with, but I love that advancements in technology have made it so that animations are a lot more impressive. Here are some of my favourite kid-friendly and super fun shows and movies.

The Willoughbys (2020)
Netflix

This has been the latest addition to my favourite kid's movies! The Willoughbys is based on Lois Lowry's book with the same name. The story follows the 4 Willoughby children in their quest become a perfectly happy family, by devising a plan to get rid of their selfish and unloving parents. I loved the overall message this movie delivered as well as the animation quality to it. Also Ricky Gervais as the narrating cat was a great addition.

Cinderella - Live Action (2015)
DisneyPlus

Amongst the many Disney live action remakes, Cinderella really does fly under the radar. For me though, it's the most enjoyable of the bunch to watch, mostly because of the direction of the remake and the incredible performance by the cast. It's interesting to see the live action attempt to re-tell Cinderella, a very well known story, without it being a boring repeat but I loved every moment of it. It strips back on the musical element that is a large part in the original animation, which didn't bother me surprisingly, and portrays the stepmother's character through a different lens. I actually quite liked that as it added a layer to the stepmother beyond just being evil and makes her seem human. If anything, Cinderella is beautifully shot and Lily James was a great choice to depict Cinderella in real life.


Carmen Sandiego (2019 )
Netflix - Seasons 1-2

I was absolutely engrossed with the Carmen Sandiego series after discovering it on Netflix. I quickly learnt that it's based on the well-known educational kid's game, that now has a large and ever-growing franchise. The series is based on Carmen Sandiego who has escaped V.I.L.E, the one and only place she's ever known, to use her bad-ass fighting skills to take down the academy. It draws on the franchise's emphasis on learning about geographical locations and facts to not only get kids excited but also teach them about other nation's cultures. Recently, Netflix released a movie, continuing on from the series. It's an interactive experience, which is basically a choose your own adventure.

DisneyPlus
For older viewers, this musical brings together a number of well-known fairytales and intertwine them to build a story on what really matters in life and how to truly find happiness or your "happily ever after". It features a blockbuster cast, including Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Cordon and Anna Kendrick, all of whom put on an amazing performance. Seriously Meryl Streep is amazing.

Ever After High (2013-2016)
Netflix - Seasons 1-7

The Ever After High franchise is actually a Mattel production, in line with the Monster High line (which I have never seen). It originally appeared on YouTube before having 7 seasons with 4 episodes each appear on Netflix. Ever After High is a boarding school attended by children of the most famous and infamous fairytale characters. In the Netflix series, the premise revolves around Apple White (Snow White's daughter) and Raven Queen (the evil Queen's daughter) and how each have they, and their friends, struggle to accept their pre-determined stories. Honestly, I wish I had this show to grow up with as a kid and really admire how most children's shows now aim to introduce ideas of determining life goals and finding oneself. It's also just a fun show overall with some pretty cool characters adapted from well-known fairytales.


Notable Mentions: Zooptopia, No Good Nick, Totally Spies, Maleficent


What Are You Favourite Kid's Shows or Films?


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Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Stay At Home Book Tag

I use to love doing tag videos because they were always a great way to think and discuss some things about reading. This was a particular fun tag to do, with the current climate keeping us inside, which is for the better. 

If anything, doing this tag made me realise how much I genuinely miss film YouTube videos and just having fun with it. Also, I have a lot of books I haven't read but need to get too. If you end up doing this tag (written or video) I would love to see it!



I am aware that this situation isn't easy for a lot of people. It is such a strange time and being forced to do things we don't want to - staying at home - is hard to deal with. However, for those who recognise the importance of staying at home and the privilege in doing so, well done on doing your part so that we can all get through this together. 

My opinion about this is that, even though I haven't personally come into contact with the virus or know anyone who has been affected by the virus tragically, I still want to be extra cautious as I have family members who are at risk and do not want to do something that can cause anyone harm. I'm also aware that I have the privilege of staying home being bored. There are people who don't have homes to protect them from the risk or access to items/avenues to relieve them of boredom. Or people whose home conditions poses as a danger to them and now can't escape this toxicity/threat. I also recognise the essential workers who aren't staying at home so that we can, doing their best to ensure that the community is safe. 

Hopefully we are able to re-emerge together stronger than before. Take care everyone!

Hope You Enjoyed the Video!


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Sunday, 10 May 2020

Top 4 Fictional Mother Figures

To celebrate today being Mother's Day, I wanted to highlight some of my favourite motherly figures who were influential on the protagonist and also left an impression on me.

Molly Weasley from the Harry Potter series
It's hard not to love Molly Weasley for who she is as a person, and how that reflects in her role as a mother. She places her children before her and always wants the best for them, even if that isn't always in her means or she showed it in a different way. The howler that Ron receives in both The Philospher's Stone and Prisoner of Azkaban conveys how great of a mother Molly is, as she isn't afraid to discipline her children to teach them about consequences and responsibility for their actions. I think everyone would pick her face off against Bellatrix Lestrange as their favourite Molly Weasley moment but, albeit that being super badass, I really liked the moment when Molly and Fleur saw eye to eye for the first time in Half-Blooded Prince. It was such a sweet moment between the two women, especially as Molly was able to realise that Fleur would love Bill as much as she does herself.

Myra from After the Flood
If you ever after a read purely about the sacrifice and love that a mother has for her children, this is it. Myra battles against all odds, stubborn and steadfast, in ensuring her younger daughter's survival whilst trying to come to terms with the absence of her eldest daughter. And she does all this in a post-apocalyptic, fully flooded, world. Both Myra and After the Flood has been my recent most influential read for its overall message, but definitely still worth the read to witness Myra in her journey.

Miss Honey from Matilda

Not only the ideal primary school teacher, but also turning out to be an incredible sisterly/motherly figure, it would be a shame not to include Miss Honey on this list. She didn't have a fault besides potentially caring too much but it's her nurturing and encouraging behaviour that makes her stand out. If anything, I just love that despite having such a tragic past, she never let that stand in her way and tried to make the children she taught feel happy and comfortable in a rather terrible school environment. Also, the fact that she did not freak out by Matilda's ability and instead, encouraged Matilda to seek more knowledge and continue to read. Bless her soul.


'Marmee' from Little Women
When you think of Little Women you most likely will remember the 4 sisters that take their town and your reading experience by a storm. However, credit lies with Marmee, who raises her children in the midst of a war and without her husband by her side. She doesn't have a strong presence per se but the values and lessons she teaches her daughters has earned her a spot on this list. In a time where most would be trying to marry their daughters off, Marmee encourages following one's passion and being true to oneself. How refreshing to see in such a setting!

I will say that, amongst my many reads, I haven't come across many characters in a positive motherly role. Instead, I find that most of the time the main character will have a rather traumatising or challenging relationship with their mum or not have a motherly figure, which spurs their story and character arc. So, moving forward, I definitely want to explore more mother-daughter relationship reads just to see what I will gain from them. I also didn't intentionally mean to name all characters starting with the letter "M", it just happened.

Who Are Your Favourite Motherly Figures?

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