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 ÂŁ5 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!

Image result for bodleian library harry potterImage result for bodleian library harry potter


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?

May 2017 Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up (1)

These months are just zooming by. Actually, these years! Congratulations to everyone who finished exams and graduated this month, and good luck to everyone who is sitting them next month. It’s weird to think that this time two years ago I was finishing my degree! Time either needs to slow down or I need to find some more productive things to be doing with my time.

Books Read in May

Dreamland by Sarah Dessen

On the Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher

Claude on the Slopes by Alex T. Smith

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

DreamlandOn the Other SideClaude on the SlopesOne of Us Is Lying


Blog Posts

sunday smiles

Sunday Smiles – Bank holiday, books and work.

Sunday Smiles – Brighton and books.

Sunday Smiles – Sunshine.

35fed-toptentuesday

TTT – UK covers that are better than the US’

TTT – Reading Wishlist

TTT – Summer TBR

goodreads-book-tag

Tags – Goodreads book tag

unboxing

Illumicrate Unboxing – May 2017, Box #7


Currently Reading

1984 by George Orwell

The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion

Dexter Omnibus by Jeff Lindsay

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Nineteen Eighty-FourThe Best of Adam SharpDarkly Dreaming Dexter (Dexter, #1)Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices, #1)


Looking Forward To In June…

Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

Meal with lots of uni friends I haven’t seen in a while.

Going to Oxford for a day trip.

My final tea delivery from my Novello tea subscription.

Once and for Allmonthly tea delivery gift novello


How was your May?

Illumicrate Unboxing – May 2017

unboxing

Illumicrate is a bookish subscription box based in the UK. It contains at least one book and lots of other bookish delights. It is a quarterly box that arrives in February, May, August and November.
teaThis is my fourth Illumicrate box. I have been delighted with the last two – I have used up all the tea from the August box and almost DSC_0075finished the yummy smelling candle from the November box. I also use my socks and trio coasters regularly. March’s box just had the cutest little make up bag and lip balm.

I’m always super excited to get these. I’ve been checking my delivery code almost obsessively since it was emailed to me.

Spoilers ahead! Don’t read on if you haven’t opened yours yet…

May Box

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Truth or Dare by Non Pratt

We got a clue for this book, and I actually guessed we’d be getting something different. I can’t explain how excited I was to see this in the box! I loved Trouble (my review) and this book sounds just as great! It’s really interesting because it’s told from two sides and half way through the book you flip it upside down and start from the otherside.

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?

To top things off, the book is also signed! and it comes with a lovely letter too.

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Feyre Mug by Merwild (exclusive)

Based on A Court of Mist and Fury – a book I am still yet to read – this mug is very pretty.

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Mermaid Lagoon Candle by Flickerink (exclusive)

We were given a clue by the supplier that there would be a candle in this box, and I was very excited. I LOVE candles. This one is delicious, it smells tropically and I just cant stop smelling it – yum!

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Swish and Flick Keychain by Nutmeg and Arlo (exclusive colour)

I freaking love this! It’s so super cute! Anything Harry Potter and I’m a happy bunny.

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Enchanted Door Hanger and Print by TJ Lubrano (exclusive)

This Beauty and the Beast inspired artwork is just gorgeous. It’s now living on my bookcase.

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Map Bookmark by Penguin Co (Exclusive)

This is by far my favourite item in the box. I’m awful when it comes to book marks as I don’t have many and just use anything I can grab as one. This is absolutely stunning, I can’t wait to start using it. I’m going to go onto Pintrest and start learning how to make them like this.

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Extras: Windfall, The Gender games, Taste of Blue Light and and ARC of The Walking Land by Callie Bates with signed bookplate and author letter.

A second book! A second book! A second book! This is why this box is so awesome!

Lady Elanna Valtai is fiercely devoted to the King who raised her like a daughter. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Elanna is accused of his murder and must flee for her life.

Returning to the homeland of magical legends she has forsaken, Elanna is forced to reckon with her despised, estranged father, branded a traitor long ago. Feeling a strange, deep connection to the natural world, she also must face the truth about the forces she has always denied or disdained as superstition powers that suddenly stir within her.

But an all-too-human threat is drawing near, determined to exact vengeance. Now Elanna has no choice but to lead a rebellion against the kingdom to which she once gave her allegiance. Trapped between divided loyalties, she must summon the courage to confront a destiny that could tear her apart.

Sounds interesting, probably not going to be on the top of my TBR pile, but will be read.

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What a great haul!

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Have you bought anything from these suppliers?

Are you subscribed or going to subscribe to Illumicrate?

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

It’s been beautiful sunshine all week! Nothing cheers me up more than lovely weather. (I say as it is now chucking it down). And it’s half term! Hurrah! It really couldn’t have come sooner. I’m very excited to catch up on lost sleep (lets just ignore all those reports I have to write.)


What’s made you smile this week?

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One of Us Is Lying

Title: One of Us is Lying
Author: Karen M. McManus
Series: N/A
Publication: 30th May 2017 by Penguin
Genre: Fiction, YA, Mystery and Thriller

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge – A mystery

Synopsis (Goodeads)

One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

My Thoughts

Now here’s your assignment: connect the dots. Is everybody in it together, or is somebody pulling the strings? Who’s the puppet master and who’s the puppet? I’ll give you a hint to get you started: everyone’s lying. GO!

When I requested this book, it was described as The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars. Well what’s not to like? Simon’s blog posts reminded me more of Gossip Girl but I love that too!

I don’t read mysteries that often but it’s a genre I really enjoy, especially if I don’t guess the ending. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t guess who it was. The title lied, not only one of them was lying, they all were, and I suspected everyone. Everyone.

 The story is narrated by the four main characters – Bronwyn (The smart one) , Addy (The popular one), Nate (the bad boy) and Cooper (the jock). This meant the pace was pretty quick. Having the four perspectives meant that we got a lot more about each of the character’s backstories, which really fleshed them out and gave them growth. I ended up loving all four of them.

The only reason I didn’t give it 5* was because the ending didn’t sit quite right with me but I can’t really go into detail about that without spoilers. It was still a very enjoyable read.

A marvelous debut book, one that I’m sure I’ll still be remembering for months to come.

My Rating

4-stars

Top Ten Books On My Summer 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 Summer Reads Freebie” so I’ve gone for my summer TBR pile.

My Summer TBR Pile

Darkly Dreaming Dexter (Dexter, #1)A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1)The Best of Adam SharpDark Triumph (His Fair Assassin, #2)Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter (Dexter #1) – After completing the series I can’t wait to get started on this!

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic # 1) – I’ve heard lots of good things.

The Best of Adam Sharp – I loved The Rosie Project so was thrilled when I got this ARC.

Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) – I’ve been meaning to read this for a while.

Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me – I’m just waiting for it to go down in price. I’ve loved everything I’ve seen her in (which, granted, is not much)

Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor, #1)Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns, #1)Caraval (Caraval, #1)Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle, #1)Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)

Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor #1) – I got this in my illumicrate and it looks great, I just don’t want to lug it into work as it’s huge.

Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1) – Everything about this calls to me, I’m not really sure why I haven’t started it earlier.

Caraval (Caraval #1) – I started it and didn’t love it. I’m going to give it a second chance because of the raving reviews.

Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1) – Another hardback illumicrate book that I really want to read but don’t want to lug to work in my bag.

Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) – Another one with rave reviews that I can’t wait to start.


What books are on your Summer TBR?

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 have a couple this week!

  1. I had a lovely Saturday in Brighton with some friends, exploring the lanes, eating lots of food and playing mini-golf (which I sucked at).
  2. I had a school trip this week which was actually really nice. It’s always good when you return back to school with the same number of children you left with.
  3. I scared my gerbils and housemates by squealing with delight because I have been granted access to Age of Swords by Michael J Sullivan, who is one of my favourite authors! Meep!
  4. I have a tea subscription and it arrived this week with my favourite fruit tea in – Strawberry and Kiwi. It also has a lovely Chai tea which I can’t wait to try 🙂

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What’s made you smile this week?

On the Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher

On the Other Side

Title: On the Other Side
Author: Carrie Hope Fletcher
Series: N/A
Publication: July 14th 2016 by Little Brown and Company
Genre: Fiction, Romance, magical realism

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge– A dual-timeline novel

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Evie Snow is eighty-two when she quietly passes away in her sleep, surrounded by her children and grandchildren. It’s the way most people wish to leave the world but when Evie reaches the door of her own private heaven, she finds that she’s become her twenty-seven-year-old self and the door won’t open.

Evie’s soul must be light enough to pass through so she needs to get rid of whatever is making her soul heavy. For Evie, this means unburdening herself of the three secrets that have weighed her down for over fifty years, so she must find a way to reveal them before it’s too late. As Evie begins the journey of a lifetime, she learns more about life and love than she ever thought possible, and somehow , some way, she may also find her way back to her long lost love . . .

On the Other Side will transport you to a world that is impossible to forget. Powerful, magical and utterly romantic, this is a love story like no other from everyone’s favourite ‘big sister’, Carrie Hope Fletcher.

My Thoughts

I picked this book up for the beautiful cover and because the premises intrigued me.

I knew the author was a youtuber, and that this is her first novel, so I didn’t go in with overly high expectations. I came out thinking that the whole thing was just a bit silly. I just had so many issues with the book, some of which probably wouldn’t bother other people but just really got on my nerves.

Firstly, those ridiculous names. Evie Snow, Vincent Winter, Colin Autumn, August Summers, Sonny Shine and Clementine Frost. It felt like a a teen who had read how some great authors use names to suggest their character and foreshadowing and had no sense of how to do with subtly.  The characters themselves felt quite two dimensional. Based on the world I don’t understand why she decided to cave to her parent’s demand to support her brother if he was disinherited. They’re both adults living in a seemingly accepting society with jobs, which Evie easily got. Also, why keep with the choice for so long if it is clearly what none of you want? It was partly hard to understand the characters choices because there was no timeline to link it to.

The magical realism was also problematic for me. Firstly, I actually rolled my eyes at “Little Bird”, the white bird they wrote love notes on until it was so full it was a “black” bird. Especially how this bird lived almost fifty years because of their love.

The dove’s wings had become almost entirely black, so he’d started carrying their messages on his back and his chest, but he welcomed them with open wings. No one wanted their love to work more than he did. Their messages of love and kindness gave him strength and a purpose.

The tree was bizarre and although was explained I don’t really feel it fitted in with the book. If you’ve read it, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, just wait for that delight… I just personally feel the whole magical realism should have been removed.

Vincent was described as being bi-sexual and her brother as being gay. Although I liked this as it was inclusive and wasn’t too predominant, I was also annoyed because I had this bugging feeling that the author only added it because she knew her audience would love it. Vincent being bi-sexual also added literally nothing to the plot.

I just didn’t love this book.

My Rating

2-stars