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.

My Thoughts (2)

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 Thoughts (1)

5-stars

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal Farm

Title: Animal Farm
Author: George Orwell
Series: N/A
Publication: August 1945
Genre: Fable, allegory, satire.

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge–  A banned book

Synopsis (Goodreads)
“All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others.”

One night on an English farm, Major the boar recounts his vision of a utopia where his fellow creatures own the land along with the means of production and are no longer the slaves of humans.

Before long his dream comes true, and for a short while all animals really are equal. But the clever pigs educate themselves and soon learn how to extend their own power, inevitably at the expense of the rest of the community.

This well-loved tale is, of course, a satire on the Soviet Communist system that still remains a powerful warning despite the changes in world politics since “Animal Farm” was first published.

This production is based on Orwell’s own radio version which was first produced in 1947.

My Thoughts

This is the first Orwell book I’ve read – I know, I’m shocked too. I’ve been meaning to read one for a while and I’m glad I finally managed to do so.

Although I found the book surprisingly easy to reading and interesting, I found the author’s note afterwards even more interesting. In the note, he explains his motivations and need to write this blunt and in your face book. He explains that

it was of the utmost importance to me that people in western Europe should see the Soviet régime for what it really was.

He already knew it would be banned and difficult to publish due to it’s nature, stating

The English intelligentsia, or most of them, will object to this book because it traduces their Leader and (as they see it) does harm to the cause of progress.

Furthermore, he explained his reasoning for using the analogy of animals to represent the Soviet régime, explaining that

It struck me that if only such animals became aware of their strength we should have no power over them, and that men exploit animals in much the same way as the rich exploit the proletariat.
I must admit that I know very little about the Soviet régime, so I was unable to draw the exact parallels between the people and the animals representing them, however this did not make the message any less powerful. What was so wonderful about this book was that even for someone like myself, with very little prior knowledge, the plot was so simple and succinct that it drove home the message and forced you to see what what was happening. Those damn pigs.
I really felt for Boxer who was the most hardworking animal on the farm, working himself to the bone, with utter faith in the leadership. Whilst the pigs organise, lie, re-write history and double-cross.

It was easy to see why this book has been banned in so many countries.

My Rating
5-stars

Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix by J.K.Rowling

harry-potter-re-read

This was one of the first books I every pre-ordered. When this first came out, my parents had to take it out of my room at night after they caught me under the covers reading it with my hidden torch. Because of that, it makes me really sad when people say they hate this book. Once again, I think it’s because they are thinking of the film rather than the book. It is the largest of the series, so there are some wishy-washy bits but it’s defintiely where the series starts getting more intense and interesting.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5)

My Favourite Bits

Sassy Harry – he’s fully of hormones so can be moody, is incredibly short tempered, but comes out with some wonderfully sassy remarks.

Tonks changing her appearance.

Professor McGonagall’s sassyness, especially towards Umbridge.

‘Hem, hem.’

‘I wonder,’ said Professor McGonagall in cold fury, turing on Professor Umbridge, ‘how you expect to gain an idea of my usual teaching methods if you continue to interupt me? You see, I do not generally permit people to talk when I am talking.’

Ron trying to do the silencing charm on a frog and poking it in the eye and making it croak louder.

Luna’s Lion hat in support of Gryffindor.

Malfoy’s catchy tune for Ron on the Quidditch pitch. What’s that? You fancy another sing along? Alright then…

Weasley cannot save a thing,
He cannot block a single ring,
That’s why Slytherins all sing:
Weasley is our King.
Weasley was born in a bin
He always lets the Quaffle in
Weasley will make sure we win
Weasley is our King.
Weasley is our King,
Weasley is our King,
He always lets the Quaffle in
Weasley is our King.

That they all bumped into Lockhart in St Mungo’s and kept offering them autographs, he wouldn’t take no for an answer – he hadn’t just learnt joined up hand writing for nothing!

The jinx that Hermione put on the DA member’s list.

Fred and George setting off fireworks and the swamp, and Peeves saluting them as they left.

The Order all rounding on Vernon at the end and threatening him.

 

Bits I Forgot About

Kingsley Shacklebolt being the person in charge of finding Sirius, and feeding the Ministry fake information about his whereabouts.

The twins testing their joke products on themselves, and first years, and ending up with massive pus filled boils on their groins. I especially loved everyone using them in Umbridge’s lessons at the same time when she became Headmistress.

Professor Grubbly-Plank taking over Care of Magical Creatures because Hagrid is still not back from doing something for Dumbledore.  After watching Fantastic Beasts, I especially love that they introduce Nifflers and that Lee keeps putting them into Umbridge’s office.

Hermione making coins where the date changes to match Harry’s coin for the DA meetings, and that she got the idea from the Death Eaters’ marks.

Dobby finding them the Room of Requirement for the DA meetings, and also being the one to warn them about Umbridge finding them.

 

My Favourite Quotes

‘Yes- yes, good point, Petunia! What were you doing under out window boy?’

‘Listening to the news,’ said Harry in a resigned voice.

His aunt and uncle exchanged looks of outrage.

‘Listening to the new? Again?’

‘Well, it changes every day, you see.’ said Harry.

 

‘…Harry I’ve left a letter telling your aunt and uncle not to worry -‘

‘They won’t’ said Harry.

‘-that you’re safe’

‘That’ll just depress them’

‘-and that you’ll see them next summer.’

‘Do I have to?’

 

‘Is it true that you shouted at Professor Umbridge?’

‘Yes,’ said Harry’

‘That you called her a liar?’

‘Yes’

‘That you told her that He Who Must Not Be Names is back?’

‘Yes.’

Professor McGonagall sat down behind her desk, watching harry closely. Then she said, ‘Have a biscuit, Potter.’

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K.Rowling

harry-potter-re-read

Most people that I speak to say that this is their least favourite, but I think that really they’re think of the film. This book is definitely ways better than the film. It left out so many important and brilliant things, like Winky and the maze (I hold so much fury over how badly they did the maze in the films).

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter, #4)

My Favourite Bits

Fred and George creating new things for Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. I especially loved the Ton-Tongue Toffee they give to Dudley.

Fred and George winding Percy up. Again. Basically, I just forgot how much I love Fred and George in the whole series. Boy is this going to be hard later on.

Malfoy being turned into a ferret.

That the first task takes place on my birthday.

Dobby knitting Harry a pair of socks for Christmas.

‘Dobby is making them himself, sir!’ the elf said happily. ‘He is buying wool out of his wages, sir!’

The left sock was bright red, and had a pattern of broomsticks upon it; the right sock was green, with a pattern of Snitches.

The Weasleys turning up as Harry’s family support for the final task, Molly is such a babe, and Fleur eyeing up Bill.

The maze – as I said earlier they completely slaughtered this in the film. I love that the Blast-ended newts end up in the maze, and I especially love the sphinx.

 

Bits I Forgot About

How much Hedwig seems to hate Pigwidgeon.

The Weasleys using Flu Powder to get Harry for the Summer. Except the Dursleys covered up the fireplace so the entire family are stuck behind the wall.

Mad-Eye Moody using the Imperius curse on all the students as part of a lesson.

The Veela at the World Cup.

That they meet Sirius in Hogsmede.

 

My Favourite Quotes

‘Percy wouldn’t notice a joke if it danced naked in front of him wearing one of Dobby’s hats.’

 

‘Severus, please fetch me the strongest Truth Potion you possess, and then go down to the kitchens, and bring up the house elf called Winky. Minerva, kindly go down to Hagrid’s house, where you will find a large black dog sitting in the pumpkin patch. Take the dog to my office, tell him I will be with him shortly, then come back here.’

If either Snape or McGonagall found these instructions peculiar, they hid their confusion.

 

What are your favourite bits of the book?

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K.Rowling

harry-potter-re-read

I’m not sure why, but this has always been my favourite book of the series. I just love Buckbeak, Lupin, Hogsmeade, the Marauder’s Map, Sirius… The whole thing, really.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

My Favourite Bits

The Foreshadowing – The Irish team putting in for seven Firebolts and being the favourites for the World Cup, the Pocket Sneakoscope constantly going off and everyone just thinking it’s broken, Dumbledore saying that Harry has now got a bond with Pettigrew and saying there might be a time where he is very glad he saved his life.

Fred and George winding Percy up about being Head Boy.

It’s because of you, Perce,’ Said George seriously. ‘And there;ll be little flags on the bonnets, with HB on the -‘

‘-for Humungous Bighead’ said Fred.

Everyone except Percy and Mrs Weasley snorted into their pudding.

Dumbledore aiming his speech at the Weasley’s and Harry.

The Boggart – the whole thing is just absolutely riddikulus.

How much McGonagall seems to despise Professor Trelawney

Sirius’ letter to Harry. It makes me smile every time.

 

Bits I Forgot About

How much Crookshanks helps Sirius out, and how much Ron and Hermione fall out because of the cat.

The Hermione gets very emotional and worn down with all her subjects and cries to Hagrid. That she gets so tired that she falls asleep on a pile of books.  Doubt the dementors helped much either.

 

My Favourite Quotes

‘I’m not going to be murdered,’ Harry said out loud.

‘That’s the spirit, dear,’ said his mirror sleepily.

 

‘Hermione, I don’t know what’s got into you lately! said Ron astounded.. ‘First you hit Malfoy, then you walk out on Professor Trelawney – ‘

 

‘…was she making a real prediction?’

Dumbledore looked mildly impressed.

‘Do you know, Harry, I think she might have been,’ he said thoughtfully. ‘ Who’d have thought it? That brings her total of real prediction up to two. I should offer her a pay rise…’

 

‘Godfather?’ spluttered Uncle Vernon. ‘You haven;t got a godfather!’

‘Yes, I have,’ said Harry brightly. ‘He was my mum and dad’s best friend. He’s a convicted murderer, but he’s broken out of wizard prison and he’s on the run. He likes to keep in touch with me, though…keep up with my news… check I’m happy…’

 

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K.Rowling

harry-potter-re-read

I adore Harry Potter but *whispers* haven’t read it in a while. I feel I am long over due to re-read my favourite series!

Most people have read them, seen the films or have some basic understand of what happens in each book. So, instead of doing a normal review, I’m just going to put my favourite bits of the books, anything that happens that I may have forgotten about, and my favourite quotes! Enjoy.

Image result for harry potter and the philosopher's stone

My Favourite Bits

How warm and fuzzy the whole book makes me feel when I read it.

Mr Dursley trying to shoo the stern cat who’s  reading looking at the drive sign.

The foreshadowing – Sirius Black was mentioned in the first chapter. It mentions Mrs Figg looking after him from time to time. Hagrid says you’d have to be mad to try and rob Gringgots. I feel so warm and fuzzy!

Vernon saying they have to take Dudley to the hospital to get the tail removed – just imagine the doctor’s faces.

Every time Hagrid says something he shouldn’t have said…

Hogwarts – the stairs moving, the walls tricking the students into thinking there is a door where there isn’t one, having to tickle doors to open them, the portraits going for walks, the Great Hall, especially at Christmas with the twelve towering Christmas trees, sparkling icicles and hundreds of candles.

Harry’s delight at getting presents at Christmas and the Fred and George shoving Percy’s jumper over his head.

 

Things I Forgot About

Everyone singing the Hogwarts song in favourite tune.
Need reminding? Fancy a singsong? Well choose your favourite tune and after 3…. 1,2,3.

Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts,
Teach us something please,
Whether we be old and bald,
Or young with scabby knees,
Our heads could do with filling,
With some interesting stuff,
For now they’re bare and full of air,
Dead flies and bits of fluff,
So teach us things worth knowing,
Bring back what we’ve forgot,
Just do your best, we’ll do the rest,
And learn until our brains all rot.

Beautiful!

Everyone finished the song at different times. At last, only the Weasley twins were left singing along to a very slow funeral march. Dumbledore conducted their last few lines with his wand, and when they had finished, he was one of those who clapped the loudest.

Harry pretending to be the Bloody Barron to scare away Peeves. They definitely missed at trick not including Peeves into the films.

 

My Favourite Quotes

‘A Nimbus Two Thousand, sir,’ said Harry, fighting not to laugh at the look of horror on Malfoy’s face. ‘And it’s really thanks to Malfoy here that I’ve got it,’ he added.

‘You haven’t got a letter on yours’ George observed. ‘I suppose she thinks you don’t forget your name. But we’re not stupid – we know we’re called Gred and Forge.’

I believe your friends Misters Fred and George were responsible for trying to send you a lavatory seat.No doubt they thought it would amuse you.

‘The truth.’ Dumbledore sighed. ‘It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.’

 

P1010329

Take me back to Hogwarts!

Nina is Not OK by Shappi Khorsandi

Nina is Not OK

Title: Nina is Not OK
Author: Shappi Khorsandi
Series: N/A
Publication: 9th February 2017 by Random House UK
Genre: YA Fiction

ARC Provided by Random House UK Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

52 Book Challenge category –  A title that doesn’t contain the letter “E”.

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Nina does not have a drinking problem. She likes a drink, sure. But what 17-year-old doesn’t?

Nina’s mum isn’t so sure. But she’s busy with her new husband and five year old Katie. And Nina’s almost an adult after all.

And if Nina sometimes wakes up with little memory of what happened the night before, then her friends are all too happy to fill in the blanks. Nina’s drunken exploits are the stuff of college legend.

But then one dark Sunday morning, even her friends can’t help piece together Saturday night. All Nina feels is a deep sense of shame, that something very bad has happened to her…

My Thoughts

I’m always a bit skeptical when celebrities write books but I was blown (haha, no pun intended) away with this book. It isn’t a normal coming of age story. It deals with slut shaming, victim blaming, alcoholism and friendship among many other issues. Yet it still made me laugh on numerous occasions throughout.

The book opens with Nina being marched out of a club by a bouncer for performing a lewd sex act. She passes out with no memory of what happened until she is in the taxi clutching her knickers. These events lead to her drinking more heavily and inevitably leading her life to being spiraling out of control.

Khorsandi has done an amazing job of writing Nina and her story. Despite me not particularly liking her at the beginning I found myself rooting for her by the end. The book had a gripping and devolving plot, relatable characters  and, unfortunately, a very realistic reflection of society today.

This is definitely worth a read regardless of age or gender!

My Rating

5-stars

Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern

Love, Rosie

Title: Love, Rosie.
Author: Cecelia Ahern
Series: N/A
Publication: 1st November 2004 by Harper.
Genre: Romance.

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Best friends since forever, Rosie and Alex have shared their hopes, dreams – and firsts. But one awkward moment at eighteen, one missed opportunity, and life sends them hurtling in different directions. Although they stay in touch, misunderstandings, circumstances and sheer bad luck seem to be conspiring to keep them apart. Can they gamble everything – even their friendship – on true love?

 

My Thoughts

I loved PS I Love You, it still is one of my all time favourite books that never fails to make me cry,  so this was a must buy when I saw it. This was the best book I’ve read in a long time. It had me laughing, wanting to cry and very, very happy.

Love, Rosie covers the lives of Rosie and Sam from ages 5 to 50 through a series of correspondences, mainly letters, emails, IMs and postcards. At times it was difficult to figure out who was writing, in what form, or how much time had passed. However, it meant you felt really connected to the characters, especially as there was a lot of dramatic irony, particularly when it came to Sam and Rosie.

I remained interested in the story the entire time. The writing style meant that I was hooked right from the beginning. I wanted to reach in and hit each of them a various points, or bang their heads together, for being so stupid. However, the choices they were making were so human it meant I was even more invested in the characters.

I absolutely loved this book, I read it all in one evening and wanted to re-read it straight away. I can’t wait to re-watch the film now!

My Rating

5-stars

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Carry On

Title: Carry On
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Series: N/A
Publication: 6th October 2015 by Macmillan Publishers
Genre: YA, Fantasy.

ARC provided by Macmillan Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.

My Thoughts

This is book is something special. After being on a reading slump for a long time this book turned out to be my medicine – it contained everything that I needed; magic, mystery and lots of kissing. I was up until 1am to finish it, I just couldn’t put it down.

The book was really easy to get into. If you’ve read Rainbow’s book Fangirl you will have already have been introduced to the characters through Cath’s fanfiction of the Simon Snow books by Gemma T. Leisle in her world. That doesn’t mean you have to have read Fangirl to understand this one, as Carry On is a stand alone book written from, and by, Rainbow. In her own words…

After I finished writing Fangirl, I kept thinking about Simon and Baz and the World of Mages … I wanted to write more about them, but I didn’t want to write the full series GTL-style. And I also didn’t want to write through Cath’s hands and brain.

I wanted to explore what would do with this world and these characters.

So, even though I’m writing a book that was inspired by fictional fanfiction of a fictional series …

… I think what I’m writing now is canon.

The Simon Snow books in Cath’s world resemble the Harry Potter series but they’re not Harry Potter as her world also references Harry Potter by name. In the note at the end Rainbow says she has always loved books about Chosen Ones and that is what this book is, how she would write her own chosen one. Yes, it has a lot of ties to Harry Potter, which may frustrate a lot of people, but it also has a lot of ties to other books with the same idea at it’s core – Where are Frodo’s parent’s or most Disney princess’ parents?  There is a prophesy of a Chosen one in Star Wars  and an old guy in robes who helps him. The Worst Witch, Mildred, also attends a magical school. These ideas are not unique to just Harry Potter. There are also lots of unique qualities and the book has different themes and focuses.

The story follows Simon, a prophesied powerful saviour, and his friends. He knows his destiny is destroy the evil creature of the world, something he has been doing for years already. He’s expected to do this whilst sharing a room with Baz, his worst enemy and the one most likely to kill him.

I found the book a little slow to begin with. The blurb mentioned his room mate Baz, who was missing and we heard nothing from for the first quarter of the book. It mentioned his girlfriend breaking up with him, which took a very long time. However, when things did get moving, it was gripping. The book was written from different character’s perspectives. I personally loved Baz, finding him the most interesting character, and I really enjoyed his relationship with Simon. I loved that all his feeling were laid out from the beginning. There were some perspectives that I found less interesting, especially Agatha’s.

I thought the magic was interesting – you just have to say a common phrase to cast the spell. These were sometimes songs, book quotes or proverbs eg. Cats got your tongue. Hammer time. Be our guest. It was an interesting take something that commonly occurs in books.

I think what people like about Rowell’s books so much are her characters. She manages to write real characters with situations and emotions the reader can relate to. In this case we have Baz who is “Yes, I’m gay, I’ve known for a long time” while Simon is like “hmmm, excellent question. I’ve never really thought about it”. Their relationship was natural and wasn’t used as a plot twist in any way.

What I liked most about the book is the ending. I loved that I thought I knew who sent the Vampires half way through the book and was all set up to be disappointed that I guessed it so easily. Then BAM it wasn’t what I expected.

So, whatever you’re doing to keep us hooked, Rainbow, Carry On!

My Rating

5-stars