Top Ten Books with Red, White, & Blue Covers

TTT

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Artsty Reader. Every week they post a new top ten list and invite everyone to share their answers. It’s a great way to learn more about the bloggers you follow and to find lots of new books. This week’s topic is “Top Ten Books with Red, White and Blue Covers.”

25458747237346282336873323482850Nineteen Eighty-FourThe One Memory of Flora BanksImage result for great gatsby bookParis for One and Other StoriesThe Cat in the HatWhat Would Mary Berry Do?


Have you read any of these books?

What was on your top ten this week?

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Second Quarter Quell – 3 Month Wrap Up

Copy of Monthly Wrap Up.png

Welcome to the second Quarter Quell of 2018. This is where I look back at the challenges I set myself at the beginning of the year and see how much progress I’ve made on them. We’re half way through the year and I’m definitely making better progress on some challenges than others…

I set myself the following challenges at the beginning of the year: 

  • To read my pre-ordered books. (Court of Mist and Fury and Angel of Storm)
  • To get above 75% on NetGalley
  • To complete The Sherlock Holmes Collection
  • To read more pages in total than the 2016 total (16,084 pages)
  • To read at least 25 books I already own.
  • To complete at least one classic (other than Sherlock Holmes)
  • To read at least 5 of the books delivered to me in my illumicrate boxes, including any new ones I get.
  • To complete at least 26 of the Around the Year In 52 Books Challenge.

To Read My Pre-Orders: The first book I read this year was A Court of Mist and Fury! What a great way to start the year, it was a brilliant book and it half ticked off one of my challenges! 🙂 Just Angel of Storm to read now!

To get above 75% on NetGalley: In December 2017 it was at 70%, it dropped down to 68% but now it’s at 69%

Books that are sitting on my shelf, still to be read, include:

  • To Kill a Kingdom – Alexandra Christo
  • Traitor to the Throne – Alwyn Hamilton
  • Age of Swords – Michael J Sullivan
  • The Best of Adam Sharp – Graeme Simsion
  • Godsgrave – Jay Kristoff
  • The Lying Game – Ruth Ware
  • Genuine Fraud – E. Lockhart

I aim to do ARC August again this year so hopefully a few more will be ticked off before the end of the year.

To complete The Sherlock Holmes Collection:  In December 2017, I was 88% through with just The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes left to read. I haven’t picked it up yet this year.

To read more pages in total than the 2016 total (16,084 pages): So far (according to Goodreads, not including children’s picture books) I’ve read 6513 pages = 40% of 2016’s total.

To read at least 25 books I already own: Half way through the year and I’ve complete over half of this challenge. Hurrah! I’ve managed 13 books so far. All the books to date here on my Mount TBR Challenge page.

To complete at least one classic (other than Sherlock Holmes): None so far… I intend to read a Shakespeare play and Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, but best laid plans…

To read 5 of the books delivered to me in my illumicrate boxes: This challenge is going really, really badly. I’ve read 1 book – The Smoke ThievesI like the sound of A Thousand Perfect Notes but the others aren’t really grabbing my attention. The books I still have to read are:

  • The Graces – Laure Eve
  • Diabolic – S. J. Kincaid
  • Wintersong – S. Jae-Jones
  • The Walking Land  by Callie Bates
  • Wonder Woman: Warbringer – Leigh Bardugo
  • Nyxia – Scott Reintgen
  • Artemis – Andy Weir
  • The City of Brass – S.A.Chakraborty
  • Blood and Sand – C.V.Wyk
  • Light Years – Kass Morgan
  • A Thousand Perfect Notes  – C.G.Drews

To complete at least 26 of the  Around the Year In 52 Books Challenge(15/52 completed)

July 2018

In the past 3 months I have ticked off:

27. A book about surviving a hardship (war, famine, major disasters, serious illness, etc) – Wonder by R.J.Palacio 

30. A short book – Claude on the Slopes by Alex T Smith

32. An alternate history book – Blood For Blood by Ryan Graudin

35. A book featuring a murder – The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green 

36. A book published in the last 3 years (2016, 2017, 2018) by an author you haven’t read before – Clean by Juno Dawson 

See all the challenges I’ve ticked off here.

Extra Reads:

Claude: Lights! Camera! Action!Plaques and TanglesClaude Going for Gold!Claude in the Spotlight

Currently reading:

Grey Sister (Book of the Ancestor, #2)


With school ending in July, I’m planning to do a lot of reading over summer, including doing ARC August again. Hopefully by my next wrap up I will have made better progress.


Have you read any of these books?
How are you getting on with your resolutions?

The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green

The Smoke Thieves (The Smoke Thieves, #1)

Title: The Smoke Thieves
Author: Sally Green
Series: The Smoke Thieves #1
Publication:  May 3rd 2018 by Penguin
Genre: YA, Fantasy

Around the Year in 52 Books – A book featuring a murder

My Thoughts (2)

(Goodreads)

A princess, a traitor, a hunter and a thief. Four teenagers with the fate of the world in their hands. Four nations destined for conflict.

In Brigant, Princess Catherine prepares for a loveless political marriage arranged by her brutal and ambitious father. In Calidor, downtrodden servant March seeks revenge on the prince who betrayed his people. In Pitoria, feckless Edyon steals cheap baubles for cheaper thrills as he drifts from town to town. And in the barren northern territories, thirteen-year-old Tash is running for her life as she plays bait for the gruff demon hunter Gravell.

As alliances shift and shatter, and old certainties are overturned, our four heroes find their past lives transformed and their futures inextricably linked by the unpredictable tides of magic and war. Who will rise and who will fall? And who will claim the ultimate prize?

My Thoughts

I recieved this in my illumicrate about 6 months ago and have finally gotten around to reading it.

There are different points of view which the book flicks between: The Calidorian princess, Catherine. The Prince of Pitoria, Tzsayn. Catherine’s bodyguard, Ambrose. March, a servant to the prince who comes from a small area of land destroy by a war. Edyon, a thief whom March is searching for. And Tash, a thirteen year-old demon hunter.

Although the points of view were interesting (I particularly looked forward to Tash and Catherine’s) the book took a while to get going as it had to set each one up. I personally didn’t particularly enjoy March’s and for the most part of the book couldn’t see why he was even included but I’m sure he’ll play a much bigger role in books to come. I really wanted to know more about the demon smoke, especially with the title, but it took over half of the book before you really found out anything about it. Now that we have a grounding for each of the characters and they’re all in the same place, the second book may have more action and I may feel more for the characters. At the moment, I’m not feeling the chemistry or tention between some of the characters, and honestly wouldn’t even bat an eyelid at Ambrose being killed off.

The book is being sold as Game of Thrones for young readers. It’s no where near as complex or detailed as GoT and has far fewer points of view. It strongly reminded me of Morgan Rhode’s Falling Kingdom series with the points of view, arranged marriage between the two countries and ‘evil’ family members. I hope the next book in this series takes it own path and isn’t always in the two series’ shadows.

I’ll definitely be reading the next book in the series.
My Thoughts (1)

4-stars

 

Sunday Smiles

sunday smiles

My Sunday Smiles

Exterior of the Temperate HouseMonday feels like it was a long time ago. But here in the UK, Monday was a bank holiday. And what a glorious bank holiday it was too. The temperature was in the mid twenties and there was beautiful sunshine. Our friends came over so we all went for a picnic in Kew Gardens. They hadn’t been before so it was nice taking them around. They had also just opened up the restored Temperate house so it was exciting to see all the restoration work they had done.

In class week we’ve started poetry. Who better to show them than Michael Rosen? I played them a selection of videos of him performing his poetry. They LOVED chocolate cake. And I can’t think of a better sound than 30 giggling children.

Image result for safe tv series

This week I also started and complete the series Safe on Netflix. If you liked Broadchurch or Big Little Lies you will love this. If I didn’t have to sleep, I would have binged watched this in an evening. It has Michael C. Hall (Dexter) and Amanda Abbington (Sherlock) in, both of which were brilliant. Dexter’s Michael’s British accent will grow on you, although I think he practiced it based on Benedict Cumberbottom.

What’s made you smile this week?


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.

Clean by Juno Dawson

Clean

Title: Clean
Author: Juno Dawson
Series: N/A
Publication:  April 5th 2018 by Quercus Children’s Books
Genre: YA

Around the Year in 52 Books – A book published in the last 3 years (2016, 2017, 2018) by an author you haven’t read before

My Thoughts (2)

(Goodreads)

I can feel it swimming through my veins like glitter … it’s liquid gold.

When socialite Lexi Volkov almost overdoses, she thinks she’s hit rock bottom.

She’s wrong. Rock bottom is when she’s forced into an exclusive rehab facility.

From there, the only way is up for Lexi and her fellow inmates, including the mysterious Brady.

As she faces her demons, Lexi realises love is the most powerful drug of all …

It’s a dirty business getting clean …

My Thoughts

This was so gripping I read it in one sitting.

It doesn’t hold back, tackling a range of subjects including drug addition, eating disorders, mental health, gender identity and friendship. It’s dark, humorous and gritty.

The story centres around Lexi, a Russian heiress, living in London. Her brother witnesses her downfall and takes her, against her will, to rehab. We follow her coming getting clean, coming to terms with her addiction and see how she got there.

Lexi isn’t always a likeable or relatable character. She’s rich, sharp, surrounded by toxic relationships which encourage her to make questionable decisions, and is determined. But as the story progresses she changes and grows and is a different person at the end of the story. It truly was wonderful to read.

The only thing I disliked about this book was the ending as it was too unrealistic and neat for my liking.

A brilliant read. This is definitely going to be in a lot of lists for top books of 2018.
My Thoughts (1)

4-stars

First Quarter Quell – 3 Month Wrap Up

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Welcome to the first Quarter Quell of 2018. This is where I look back at the challenges I set myself at the beginning of the year and see how much progress I’ve made on them. It’s always nice to see a bit of progression, no matter how small. I’ve not had a particularly good start to the year as I feel very unmotivated to read, partly because the books I have read have all been brilliant.

I set myself the following challenges at the beginning of the year: 

  • To read my pre-ordered books. (Court of Mist and Fury and Angel of Storm)
  • To get above 75% on NetGalley
  • To complete The Sherlock Holmes Collection
  • To read more pages in total than the 2016 total (16,084 pages)
  • To read at least 25 books I already own.
  • To complete at least one classic (other than Sherlock Holmes)
  • To read at least 5 of the books delivered to me in my illumicrate boxes, including any new ones I get.
  • To complete at least 26 of the Around the Year In 52 Books Challenge.

To Read My Pre-Orders: The first book I read this year was A Court of Mist and Fury! What a great way to start the year, it was a brilliant book and it half ticked off one of my challenges! 🙂 Just Angel of Storm to read now!

To get above 75% on NetGalley: In December 2017 it was at 70% and that hasn’t  changed. They’ve changed the region thing so it’s  now harder to get books by American publishers and to be approved for books in general, which is very frustrating!

Books that are sitting on my shelf, still to be read, include:

  • Traitor to the Throne – Alwyn Hamilton
  • Allegiant – Veronica Roth
  • Age of Swords – Michael J Sullivan
  • The Best of Adam Sharp – Graeme Simsion
  • Godsgrave – Jay Kristoff
  • The Lying Game – Ruth Ware

To complete The Sherlock Holmes Collection:  In December 2017, I was 88% through with just The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes left to read. I haven’t picked it up yet this year.

To read more pages in total than the 2016 total (16,084 pages): So far (according to Goodreads) I’ve read 3348 pages = 21% of 2016’s total.

To read at least 25 books I already own: I’ve managed 5 books so far! All the books to date here on my Mount TBR Challenge page.

To complete at least one classic (other than Sherlock Holmes): None so far… I intend to read a Shakespeare play and Perfume: The Story of a Murderer.

To read 5 of the books delivered to me in my illumicrate boxes: My housemate read Nyxia and despised it, which doesn’t particularly make me want to read it. I tried Artemis but wasn’t in the mood for it. The books I still have to read are:

  • The Graces – Laure Eve
  • Diabolic – S. J. Kincaid
  • Wintersong – S. Jae-Jones
  • The Walking Land  by Callie Bates
  • Wonder Woman: Warbringer – Leigh Bardugo
  • Nyxia – Scott Reintgen
  • Artemis – Andy Weir
  • The City of Brass – S.A.Chakraborty
  • Blood and Sand – C.V.Wyk
  • The Smoke Thief – Sally Green

To complete at least 26 of the  Around the Year In 52 Books Challenge(6/52 completed)

Copy of Reading Challenge 2017

Since the beginning of the year, I have ticked off:
1. A book with the letters A, T & Y in the title – A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas 
3. A book from the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards (link) – Scythe by Neal Shausterman 
9. A book with a body part in the title (heart, bones, teeth, skin, blood, etc) – Thunderhead by Neal Shausterman 
18. A book with a location in the title –  A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
34. A suggestion from the AtY 2018 polls, that didn’t win but was polarizing or a close-call (link) – A Graphic novel – Preludes & Nocturnes (The Sandman  #1) by Neil Gaiman 
39. A book with a form of punctuation in the title – The Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter by Michael J. Sullivan 

See all the challenges I’ve ticked off here.

Currently reading:

Blood For Blood (Wolf By Wolf #2)Claude In The City


Have you read any of these books?
How are you getting on with your resolutions?

Sunday Smiles

sunday smiles

My Sunday Smiles

My colleagues completely caught me unawares and and did a surprise bridal party in the staff room, which was absolutely lovely!

The season of weddings began yesterday, after one of my university friends got married. It was a wonderful day and best of all, it stayed dry! She’s from South Africa so they served South African food – which was incredible. Then followed it up by a barn dance, which was lots and lots of fun.

 

What’s made you smile this week?


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.

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3)

Title: A Court of Wings and Ruin
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #3
Publication:  2017 by Bloomsbury
Genre: YA, Fantasy

Around the Year in 52 Books – A book with a location in the title.

My Thoughts (2)

(Goodreads)

Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s manoeuvrings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit – and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

My Thoughts

This review was really hard to write. After the ending of ACoMaF I just had to pick this up and read it straight away. Although I enjoyed it, I had really high hopes for this book and came out feeling like this is the weakest of the 3 books. That’s not saying it’s bad, far from it, but the other two books had me reading at ridiculous times and for hours on end, squealing and fangirling. This book had me more thinking, get to the point!

I’m finally completing this review almost 2 months after reading the book. Every time I sat down to write it, it was hard to think of what to say that hadn’t already been said before. I also found that the more I thought about the book, the harder it was to focus on the things I enjoyed, it was so much easier to pull out the things I disliked.

I was put off of this book more than the others as it is so ruddy thick! I was really frustrated as within the first 100 pages Fayre is undercover, which was great, except she kept doing something and then explaining it. We as readers are not dumb, surprisingly enough we can figure out what she was doing and why without being spoon fed.

In this book we see a lot more characters introduced and more locations, as they go to the different courts. I loved seeing all the different courts and hearing the Bone Carver and Weaver’s back story. The characters are a definite strength in this book, and series as a whole. We get a lot more back story to the main characters, and I just love how she’s able to write about Feyre’s raw emotions such as struggling with PTSD.

However, with more characters and places came greater pacing issues. I feel this book could easily have been a third of a book smaller, especially if you removed all the unnecessary sex scenes. If I’m honest, I’m writing this review about 7 weeks after finishing the book and I’m having to look up what happened because a lot of  it was just that unmemorable.

Taking the series as a whole, it would definitely be a solid five star. I will definitely be re-reading it again the future and it will be very interesting to see how my opinion on it changes with the re-read. Especially for the first book, knowing what I know now…

My Thoughts (1)

4-stars

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)

Title: A Court of Mist and Fury
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #2
Publication: 3th May 2016 by Bloomsbury
Genre: YA, Fantasy

Around the Year in 52 books challenge – A book with the letters A, T and Y in the title.

My Thoughts (2)

(Goodreads)

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

My Thoughts

I purposely saved this book to be the first book I read in 2018. That was such a good choice because this book was brilliant. It was so good that I had to read ACoWaR straight away. I feel that this is the best book of the three, so far.

Although this book is classified YA, it wavers that line where I would be more inclined to remove it from that category and put it in full fledged fantasy.  There are a few sex scenes in the book, they’re not necessarily graphic but they’re pretty descriptive and may not be appropriate for young YA readers.

The book begins with Feyre back in the Spring Court preparing, but not really engaging, for her wedding to Tamlin. Although she made a bargain with Rhysand, the High Lord of the Night Court, to spend one week with him a month, his has not called in on this yet. Feyre is withering away due to not eating, disturbed sleep full with nightmares about under the mountain and Tamlin being more overprotective than usual and leaving Feyre like a prisoner in her own home. As she walks down the isle, she is silently praying for help. Like an answer to her prayer, that is the momeny Rhysand decides to turn up and make Feyre hold up her end of their bargain.

Although some people may consider this a love triangle, I think this is probably more about Feyre growing as a person and deciding who she wants to be, not who she wants to be with. Feyre grows so much within this book, both personally and romantically. She not only learns about her newly acquired powers, she learns to read and write and becomes more confident and assurtive.

The characters are just wonderful in this book too. I didn’t feel there were too many and as we progressed we found out more about each one. I just love Mor.

And man, that ending!

My Thoughts (1)

5-stars

Bout of Books | Day 1

It’s day one of my first ever readathon!

6:00pm – I’m finally home from work. As a class we read The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes. This was a really lovely book. It had very little writing on each page but some beautiful language and pictures to match. The story follows a little gardener who tries very, very hard but his garden just won’t grow, except one beautiful flower. He sends out a call for help but because he is so small, no one can hear him. However, one someone sees the beautiful flower. Exhausted from trying so hard all the time, the little gardener falls asleep for a month, when he finally awakes he finds his garden in full flourish. He’s only little but to his garden he’s everything.

Page count: 40 pagesImage result

8:15pm – I’ve just completed Preludes & Nocturnes (The Sandman  #1) by Neil Gaiman. I didn’t love this at first but definitely got into as the story progressed. An occultist attempts to capture Death to bargain for eternal life but instead captures her younger brother, dream. After 70 years of imprisonment, Dream escapes and hunts down his lost objects of power.

I really enjoyed that Death and Dream were related, I especially loved that Death was a female rock chick.

This was a lot darker than I was expecting. A particular image which I know will stick with me is Death going around and picking up a baby from the cot as the mother leaves the room to get milk.

Image result for sandmanI did feel like there I was missing something as I was reading as there were little mentions to DC. At one point they mention calling Batman but he’d be busy. There was also an odd character which had a small role, I just remember he started to rhyme in Hell. After reading it, it turns out Veritgo is DC Comics which explains a lot.

Also, is it me, or does Dream look a bit like Neil Gaiman?

Page count: 290 pages

Preludes & Nocturnes (The Sandman, #1)

11:00pm – I managed to get in a bit of reading before bed so I’m now on page 142 of The Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter by Michael J. Sullivan. I’m definitely going to finish it this week.

 

Pages read: 362 pages

The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter  (Riyria Chronicles, #4)

 

Challenge: Introduce yourself in six words #insixwords.

Tea drinking, Harry Potter loving teacher.


The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 8th and runs through Sunday, January 14th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 21 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.
– From the Bout of Books team