Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Title: Big Little Lies
Author: Liane Moriarty
Series: N/A
Publication: 9th February 2017 by Penguin (Originally published in 2014)
Genre: Fiction, humour

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge – A book set in or by an author from the Southern Hemisphere

Advanced Reading Copy provided, in exchanged for an honest review, from the publishers.

My Thoughts (2)

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

My Thoughts

I went into this with no expectations or knowledge of the book (or TV series) at all, and was just blown away!

So much happens! I feel like either I can’t talk about any of it otherwise I’ll have to talk about all of it. The three women are all at different crossroads in their lives but the one thing the all have in common is that their children are all starting the same kindergarten. The book flicks between the three different mothers; Madeline, Celest and Jane. It also flicks between their stories and the present, where members of the school community are being interviewed about a murder, except we don’t know who has been murdered or who is involved.

It was one of those books that you pick up and before you know it, you’re over half way though and it’s dark outside. It’s full of mystery, drama and hilarity. Definitely worth picking up!

My Thoughts (1)

4-stars

Top Ten Series I’ve Been Meaning To Start But Haven’t

35fed-toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Every week they post a new top ten list and invite everyone to share their answers. This week’s topic is “ Top Ten Series I’ve Been Meaning To Start But Haven’t”.

Most of these are well know so I’m just going to put the picture up and not any detail.

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What series have you yet to start?

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon
Series: N/A
Publication: 13th July 2017 by Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance.

Advanced Reading Copy provided, in exchanged for an honest review, from the publishers.

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge – A book written by a person of colour.

My Thoughts (2)

A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

My Thoughts

When Dimple met Rishi… she threw a drink in his face and ran away.

I have seen this book literally everywhere, and with good reason. This is one of those cute summer contemporary romance novels, plus it is diverse and did I mention totally adorable?

Dimple fierce, ambition and into  web development. She is all set for Uni and can’t wait to escape from her mum trying to find her the “Ideal Indian Husband”.  So she’s not too thrilled when Rishi pops up with;

“Hello, future wife,” he said, his voice bubbling with glee. “I can’t wait to get started on the rest of our lives!”

Although the blurb and synopsis seems to suggest the focus is on the arranged marriage, and this does have a major part, I would say that the focus is more on their developing romance and on the web design course.

If you’re into cute romances, this is for you.

My Thoughts (1)

4-stars

Lady of the Lake by Andrzek Sapkowski

Title: The Lady of the Lake
Author: Andrzek Sapkowski
Series: The Witcher #6
Publication: 16th March 2017 by Orion Publishing Group
Genre: Fantasy

Synopsis (Netgalley)

After walking through a portal in the Tower of the Swallow, thus narrowly escaping death, the Witcher girl, Ciri, finds herself in a completely different world… a world of the Elves. She is trapped with no way out. Time does not seem to exist and there are no obvious borders or portals to cross back into her home world.

But this is Ciri, the child of prophecy, and she will not be defeated. She knows she must escape to finally rejoin the Witcher, Geralt, and his companions – and also to try to conquer her worst nightmare. Leo Bonhart, the man who chased, wounded and tortured Ciri, is still on her trail. And the world is still at war.

Daz’s Thoughts

The finale to the epic fantasy series, The Witcher. The story takes place straight after the events of the Tower of the Swallows and sees the entire Witcher universe committing itself to a great war. Geralt is engulfed in his depression of losing Ciri and Yennefer and throws himself into helping anybody else who is in desperate need of ‘killing monsters’. Meanwhile, Ciri is battling against those who are trying to force her destiny upon her.

The story is a fitting end to the entire series. Although it starts off at a bemusing pace (time travel and alternate universes) all of these begin to knit themselves together and forms the blanket of a world that is closing in on Tolkien. There are still elements of the politics behind war and you begin to learn about the true horrors that befall countries during these times.

I must say that there are parts that I could’ve done without, for example I didn’t need the part about the rapey old man in the woods. However, I am still very happy with this story being the ending to a great story and it ends in a way that should close storylines behind itself.

Daz’s Rating

5-stars

Truth or Dare by Non Pratt

Truth or Dare

Title: Truth or Dare
Author: Non Pratt
Series: N/A
Publication: 1st June 2017 by Walker Books
Genre: YA, Contemporary.

Synopsis (Goodreads)

A powerful and moving novel about bravery from the Guardian’s “writer to watch” Non Pratt, perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell, John Green and Holly Bourne. How far is too far when it comes to the people you love? Claire Casey hates being the centre of attention. But if it means getting Sef Malik to notice her, it’s a risk she’s happy to take. Sef is prepared to do anything to help his recently disabled brother. But this means putting Claire’s love – and life – on the line. Because when you’re willing to risk everything, what is there left to lose?

My Thoughts

You know those books where you put them down and you find yourself thinking about them? This is one of those books. I was halfway through and almost got hit in the face by a tennis ball because I was thinking about this book.

The book is one story with two sides. Literally. I loved the way that you read Claire’s side first then had to flip the book over to read Sef’s side. Seeing the story from the two different perspectives really helped to understand where the characters were coming from and the choices they made.

Non Pratt just has this way with words. This book may be aimed at teenagers but it it’s definitely for all ages. Non managed to explore a huge range of different subjects – including social media, racisim and disability – without them becoming the main focus and still somehow making it relatable.

Claire and Sef’s relationship was just beautifully written. I’ve read so many books recently where the relationships have been out of the blue or really quick but this wasn’t anything like them. The entire relationship just felt so natural and realistic. I found myself smiling at so many points, and doing my foot wiggle that I do when I’m loving a book.

I really must insist that you all go and read this book.

My Rating

5-stars

Ways to Organise Your Bookshelves

Since I’ve been collecting books, I’ve organised my bookshelves in a lot of ways. I’ve seen lots of pictures of other people’s gorgeous shelves. I’ve changed mine around in a lot of ways based on theirs. Some of it works for me and others don’t. I’ve learnt that just because a bookshelf is aesthetically pleasing, doesn’t mean it’s logically pleasing. Mine has ended up being a mixture of everything, it doesn’t always look the best, but it does work for me.

So this post is for you – if you think your shelves are a bit lacking or you just want a switch up.

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One of my shelves

Ways to order your shelf:

By genre

This is my favourite way because it’s so organised and makes it really easy to find a book when I’m in the mood for a certain book.

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Alphabetically by author’s last name

This isn’t one that I tend to do just because I don’t particularly like having hard back books in the middle of the shelf but it is a super easy way to find books. It is the way that I order all my reviews though (here).

By height

I use this method because it makes it easier for shelf size, or I tend to put the larger books to the side of the shelf.

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By colour

Rainbow shelves are simple gorgeous. I think they look simply amazing. The downside I find it that it means some series are split up and it’s a nightmare to find books.

By TBR and Read piles

I’ve just moved my shelves around to do this. I have 3 shelves in my bedroom with the next books on my TBR pile to pick from. Hopefully that way I might actually get through some of them!

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A favourites shelf

I love this way! I put all my favourite books/authors on the same shelf and it’s always a great shelf to go to when I’m stuck for a book. I’ve seen lots of other people’s favourite’s shelves and they look great!

By publication date

This would be a very organised way of doing it. It’s not one that I’ve ever tried, just because I like my series being put together but it could be a very interesting one to look at.

Just make it fit

This is how my shelves always end up being before I cave and buy more shelves. Most of the time I end up having some books on the side and some standing up straight or, in my current situation, on top of others.

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My favourite shelf on by book case isn’t actually books. My favourite shelf is my memory shelf. It has my scrap books and boxes full of memorabilia. I usually also have little figures and photos on my shelves too.

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How do you organise your shelves?

Do you keep yours the same or mix it around?

Are there any ways that you want to try?

Top Ten YA Books I’ve Recently Added To My TBR

35fed-toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Every week they post a new top ten list and invite everyone to share their answers. This week’s topic is “ Top Ten Books From X Genre That I’ve Recently Added To My TBR List” so I’ve gone for YA books.

Most of these are well know so I’m just going to put the picture up and not any detail.

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What’s recently been added to your TBR list?

 

Sunday Smiles

sunday smiles

Sunday Smiles is a weekly meme created by me at Tumbling into Wonderland Books. It runs every Sunday. Want to find out more or join in the fun? Check out the details here.

My Sunday Smiles

I’ve been on half term this week which means I’ve been able to sleep (yay!), drink (yay!) and do things that I want to do with my days (yaaaay!) So I’ve got lots of smiles for this week.

  • I had a lovely day in London, eating street food in Camden, visiting Forbidden Planet, and seeing my first show in the National Theatre! I went to see Ugly Lies the Bone, which was different to what I was expecting but really, really good! It was a straight run through, with no breaks, and the setting was incredible.
  • My Illumicrate arrived! (My unboxing). It’s a 3 monthly subscription, so I’m always really excited when this arrives. It was a super haul this month too, with my highlights being: two books, a candle and a cute HP keyring.
  • I went to Oxford for the day (my post). We had a completely nerdy bookish day going to the Bodleian Library (where they filmed HP), buying books from Oxford University Print shop and going to the Eagle and Child (drinking grounds of the Inklings).
  • We went to London Zoo at night! ZSL are doing evening events during summer where people walk around in costume, they have food and music. It’s rather lovely without all the children! The animals tend to be more active in the evening too 🙂
  • I completed all my school reports! Hurrah! 30 reports takes an awfully long time to write and I’m pretty sure by the end most of them didn’t really make sense. But they’re completed!

What made you smile this week?

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices, #1)

Title: Lady Midnight
Author: Cassandra Clare
Series: The Dark Artifices #1
Publication: 8th March 2016 by Margaret K. McElderry Books.
Genre: YA, Fantasy.

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge – A books from the Goodreads Choice Awards 2016.

Synopsis (Goodreads)

In a kingdom by the sea…

In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.

A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.

Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.

Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?

The darkly magical world of Shadowhunters has captured the imaginations of millions of readers across the globe. Join the adventure in Lady Midnight, the long-awaited first volume of a new trilogy from Cassandra Clare.

My Thoughts

I told my self I wouldn’t do this. I told myself I wouldn’t read another Cassandra Clare book. I told myself I wouldn’t put myself through the disappointment. Then I ending up buying it. I told myself I wouldn’t read it. I told myself it could just sit on my shelf to complete my collection. Then I read it.

I don’t know why I did it. I dislike Cassandra Clare. She blatantly takes things from other people’s books and says they’re inspiration (see my review on The Iron Trial). She is a fan pleaser, and I freaking hate that. Her fan pleasing completely destroys what was good about the books (See review of TMI).

Firstly, this is meant to be a stand alone series. But if you haven’t read any of her other books, don’t read this first. It completely ruins the endings of TID and TMI. I would say all of her books, but I don’t know about The Bane Chronicles, so I would say go ahead and read that before you read this one too.

This book is a whopping 698 pages long. And what happens in those 698 pages? Bugger all. This book is about 400 pages too long. Stuff happens in the first 150 pages and in the pages 450ish -550ish and that’s it. The rest of it is just filler. There’s lots of talking and lots of focus on different characters.

The problem was, there were so many different characters that I didn’t really get attached to any of them. Emma was basically a gender-bend version of Jace, who was sarcastic and made lots of stupid decision like going off without telling her Parabati. She’s confident and a strong female protagonist but I didn’t overly like her. Julian like a mixture of Simon and Clary; family focused, fiercely loyal and with an artistic flare. Marc was a bit more interesting, having returned from the faeries, it was interesting to see his conflict between where his loyalties lied. My favourite character was Cristina because she felt different and there was a bit of mystery there.

What really wound me up about this book was the cameos. Now I know lots of readers would love this but it really got on my nerves. Was there really any need for them to appear? Did they really add anything to the plot other than a constant reminder that they’re there?

One of my saving graces of this book was Emma’s decision at the end. I know what lots of fans reaction will be, and I bet Cassandra will rectify that in later books, but that peaked my interest a bit.

Will I read book 2? I say no. I want to say no. I bet I’ll end up reading it.

My Rating

2-stars

Oxford

The City of Dreaming Spires

As a house that is obsessed with Tolkien and Harry Potter, Oxford seemed like the perfect location for a house trip. 3 trains and 2 hours later we were in the famous university city, on what we assume may have been graduation day, that or they have very fancy uniforms that include mortar boards.


University Oxford Botanic Gardens.

Founded in 1621, the oldest botanic garden in Britain,  this small but beautiful place was out first stop. It isn’t anywhere near as big as Kew Gardens but is just as beautiful. It has over 8,000 different plant species in it’s gardens and green houses. Lots of people were sitting and relaxing, while people were being punted down the river beside it.

It cost £5 to get into, but offers student discount.

I personally liked the giant lily pads and seeing the pineapple grow.


Bodleian Library

Oh my goodness! This was just incredible and a must see. You can either get an audio guide or a guided tour – I would definitively recommend a guided tour. It is still a working library, so you’re not aloud to take photos inside and you have to be very quiet. Our tour guide was really knowledgeable, telling us about the library, how the books were made and about the filming of the Harry Potter films – both the library and the Divinity School were used for the Library, Hospital wing and for the Yule ball practice dance. It was really interesting to hear about the history of the library and how a lot of it was destroyed due to Edward VI and the reformation. I would love to gush to you about all I learnt but that would completely spoil it for you!

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Bodleian Library Treasury

Opposite the library, inside the Weston Library, is the treasury. This is definitely worth a visit – and it’s free! It displays some amazing collections of work including handwritten letters by Kenneth Grahame and JRR Tolien. We all found the Morse Code letter from the Titanic incredibly interesting. It’s also got a 1217 engrossment of the Magna Carta. Simply incredible. We all walked out stunned.

J.R.R. Tolkien, A letter from Father Christmas


Bridge of Sighs

As this was right outside the Library, we had to all have a quick selfie!

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Eagle and Child Pub

How could we not go to Oxford and drink in the same pub as the Inklings? We hunted this narrow, dark pub as our last stop. A frequent meeting place of many famous writers, including Tolkien and C.S.Lewis, we were all eager to go here. I must admit, it was a lovely pub, but I was expecting more mention of the the writers. There’s a few memorabilia above the fire place, and a plaque as you come in, but not much more else. It was still a lovely place to eat – and very yummy.


There are lots of other lovely places in Oxford that we missed, but as it was only a quick day trip we definitely did a lot! Alex was thrilled as he was able to buy 3 classics from the Oxford University Press shop!


Have you been to Oxford before?

What did you enjoy most?