Sunday, 31 January 2016

Carrie's Book Club

It seems a little pointless to be writing this blog post as its based on a subscription box that is now sold out for this particular box and February’s box will be arriving shortly but I’m in the mood to write something so here goes!

Jumping on the subscription box hype is successful YouTuber, author and West End star, Carrie Hope Fletcher creating her very own book club called Carrie’s Book Club. As the name suggests Carrie’s Book Club is a book club except it doesn’t actually include a book just items that you could use whilst you’re reading a book. The ideas in the box each month are loosely themed around a book meaning that if you haven’t read the book or you already the book you can enjoy the items regardless.

I was very kindly gifted a 3 month subscription to Carrie’s Book Club as a Christmas present with the first box that I received being January 2016’s. I was pleasantly surprised to see that this box was themed around my favourite book series, Harry Potter.

January’s box contained a light up candle, a bath bomb, three butterscotch sweets, a lollipop, a bookmark and a letter from Carrie. According to the letter that was included, this box also contained a blackcurrant tea but I didn’t seem to have that in my box, but I don’t like blackcurrant flavoured things so no complaints from me! 

At £16 + postage for a one off box or £48.00 + postage for a three month subscription I personally think that Carrie’s Book Club is a little overpriced. I was incredibly surprised when I opened the box then it didn’t actually contain a book or at the very least a coupon to download an eBook, however it does clearly state on the website that it doesn’t contain a books it was completely my mistake for assuming it would have a book. I appreciate that today people read books in different ways so it would be quite difficult to do a book club containing a format that everyone who subscribes want but I feel that without a book it makes the box quite expensive for what you get. 

Carrie’s Book Club has existed for over a year now so it obviously must be a successful subscription box. Although I think I would’ve been disappointed if I had paid for the subscription myself, I did thoroughly enjoy using the items that were including in the box. It great to get mystery items through the post that you can enjoy using as soon as they arrive. I also like the fact that it’s themed around a book, hopefully younger subscribers may be more enticed to pick up the book and read it which can only be a good thing. Fans of Carrie Hope Fletcher will love this book, however if you want to get a book and feel like you’ve got value for money this certainly isn’t the subscription box for you.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Star Struck - Jenny McLachlan

Star Struck is book number four in The Ladybirds book series. I’ve only read one of the other books in the series, Sunkissed and I absolutely loved it so I had high expectations for this one. As discovered in Sunkissed, Pearl is certainly the rebellious member of the group. Despite this she has a real passion for theatre and is always cast at the lead. That is until new girl Hoshi appears on the scene and changes everything.

Personally I didn't enjoy Star Struck half as much as Sunkissed but it's probably wrong to compare the two. The storyline just wasn't as much to my liking. However the themes that this book touches on are absolutely fantastic. Without spoiling the book, Pearl goes through some serious issues and for a book to highlight them so wonderfully is great. If anyone reading is going through a similar thing I think the author has written Pearl into the perfect role model. Ok, perhaps she's a little rough round the edges but Pearl deals with her problems fantastically.

Pearl is an interesting character, on the surface she is a bit of a rebel but this book highlights perhaps maybe why she appears to be like that on the outside. It was fascinating to read about the different layers of Pearl and see her open up as a person. I particular enjoyed how she was just green with envy at the beginning at Hoshi’s talent and then mellowed towards the end. I didn’t expect to like Hoshi. She is extremely different to characters I usually read in books but she really made the book. The relationship between them both and reading how they interacted together was delightful.

Star Struck isn't my favourite book in the series so far but I still adore the authors writing style and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. If you loved the other book in the series, particularly Sunkissed where we saw a lot of Pearl, you will love reading Star Struck.

Star Struck is released March 10th so be sure to pick up a copy!

Synopsis –

Following on from Flirty Dancing, Love Bomb and Sunkissed, Jenny McLachlan's next book is perfect for fans of Geek Girl and Louise Rennison.

In a huge fantastic final hurrah to our lovable heroines - Bea, Betty, Kat and Pearl - Jenny McLachlan's latest book tells Pearl's story. Pearl is the 'bad girl' of the group - she drinks, she smokes, she swears - and she's mean to Bea and Betty. But she did fly halfway round the world to rescue Kat in Sunkissed. If there's one thing Pearl knows deep down, it is how to be a friend. And now, more than ever, she could really use a friend.
There will be laughter, there will be tears and there will definitely be kissing. Most importantly, Pearl will be keeping it fierce!

Click here to preorder Star Struck by Jenny McLachlan from Waterstones. 

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Bookishly Ever After - Isabel Bandeira

Ever since I first heard about Bookishly Ever After I instantly added it on to my must read book pile. A book about a girl was is obsessed with books and wouldn't mind her real life being like the stories she's read it books? I'm pretty sure any avid reader can relate to this already! 

Bookishly Ever After is about Phoebe. Phoebe, like many readers of this book, love reading and always tries to read the latest releases. If she’s not reading you’ll find her knitting or practicing her archery skills. Then thanks to a little encouragement from her friend she starts noticing that her friend Dev is cute and tries to impress him using advice from her favourite novels.

I loved Phoebe. I thought she was a completely relatable character. From when she has her head in a book at school blissfully unaware of people around her to when she's queuing in full cosplay to meet her favourite author, it's all relatable. I particularly like the fact that she embraces her quirkiness and doesn’t have an issue with it, like many characters in young adult books do.  I found her character a consistently enjoyable read as she fumbles though trying to impress Dev. I thought her love interest, Dev, was a great read too. He is a theatre and band geek who also is pretty good at survival skills – basically he was just a perfect match for Phoebe.

Perhaps at times the storyline got a little repetitive. Phoebe tries to channel her favourite book characters on to herself, her and Dev flirt but nothing ever happens. Maybe some of the book could've been cut slightly? I know I may have somewhat skim read a few of the chapters. However, I loved reading about Phoebe when she went to camp, from then on in the book I truly could not put it down! There was some just downright adorable moments between Phoebe and Dev at summer camp which for me completely made the book.

Interestingly Bookishly Ever After slots in mini chapters of Phoebe's favourite book in between. I could've done without them being there as I was just dying to know if Phoebe and Dev’s relationship would ever turn into something more than friends but it made the book unique. I think that it is an interesting idea to put them in as it’s like you’re reading Phoebe’s books along with her, whilst you’re reading a book about Phoebe.

It’s not one of the stand out books that I’ve read but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy reading Bookishly Ever After. It is the author’s debut novel and I’m very keen to read more of her work. If you’re an avid reader this book is most certainly for you, I can assure you that you’ll be able to relate to Phoebe and you’ll completely enjoy reading Bookishly Ever After.

Synopsis –
In a perfect world, sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martins’ life would be a book. Preferably a YA novel with magic and a hot paranormal love interest. Unfortunately, her life probably wouldn’t even qualify for a quiet contemporary. But when Phoebe finds out that Dev, the hottest guy in the clarinet section, might actually have a crush on her, she turns to her favorite books for advice. Phoebe overhauls her personality to become as awesome as her favorite heroines and win Dev’s heart. But if her plan fails, can she go back to her happy world of fictional boys after falling for the real thing?

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Beyond The Stars - Stacy Wise

Beyond The Stars by Stacy Wise tells the story of A List Hollywood actor Jack and Jessica. Due to Jessica's year abroad in France falling through she ends up becoming Jacks personal assistance. Little does she know and as much as she would deny it, the attraction between the pair is undeniable.

I'm an absolutely sucker for stories where one half of the pairing is famous and unfortunately some books just don't reach my high expectations of these kind of stories. Thankfully this wasn't the case with Beyond The Stars and it is one of the best books I've read with this kind of storyline. I loved the story, I loved the characters, I love the authors writing style, I just absolutely loved everything about this book!

If like me you read a lot of books in this genre I'm sure you'll have a list of fictional love interests that you wish were real. Well it's not often someone new gets added to my list but Jack has made it. I thought it was such a great character who really did love Jessica. Even during the moments where she is just his PA, he stands up for her and genuinely tries to do what he can to make her happy. They form an unlikely bond and although there is an attraction between them, they become great friends. Although Jack pushes Jessica away at first and we learn that he may have been abit of a twonk in the early stages of his acting career he's still cemented his place as one of my favourite male characters in a book.

The pacing of the book is particularly slow with any real action between the pair taking place around 80% into the book. In my opinion the fact it's a slow burner really adds to the book. The tension that developed between Jack and Jessica as the book went on was so strong it was oozing out of the pages into my room which only made it even better when the final few chapters came around. If you like a book to get to the relationship quick you may find the slow buildup frustrating and probably won't enjoy this book as much. However I absolutely loved the pace and when the moment came when they admitted there feelings it made the slow pacing completely worthwhile. 

From the opening page to the very end my attention was constantly captured, I personally thought it was a real page turner. I found the way that it was written most captivating. The characters in particular Jack and Jessica were so well developed and provided some entertaining moments. One of my favourite things about this book was that the entire book was written from Jessica’s point of view except for the last chapter which was from Jack’s. As if the entire book hadn’t been good enough, it was such a sweet ending to be able to read things from Jack’s perspective.  

With every turn of the book my heart fluttered more and more. It was such a sweet read. Yes it's only January but believe me when I say Beyond The Stars is already going to be a contender for one of my favourite books released this year. I’ve only just finished reading and I already want to read it again. Beyond The Stars most certainly should be added to your must read list, it is absolutely fantastic.

Synopsis - 

Falling for him wasn't in the plans...

Most girls would kill for the opportunity to work for Jack McAlister, Hollywood's hottest actor, but twenty-one-year-old Jessica Beckett is ready to kick him out of her red Ford Fiesta and never look back. She should be spending her junior year in France, eating pastries and sharpening her foreign language skills. Instead she's reluctantly working as Jack's personal assistant, thanks to her powerhouse talent agent aunt.

Jack is private, prickly, and downright condescending. Jessica pushes his buttons—she's not the type of girl to swoon over celebrity heartthrobs, precisely why her aunt thought she'd be perfect for the job—and Jack pushes right back.

But as she begins to peel away his layers, Jessica is shocked to find she craves her boss's easy smile and sexy blue eyes. The problem is, so does the entire female population. And what started out as the job from hell soon has Jess wondering if a guy like Jack could ever find love with a regular girl like her.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Take Back The Skies - Lucy Saxon

It's 1am in the morning and I'm currently sat crying my eyes out. Why? Well Take Back The Skies by Lucy Saxon has just taken me on such an emotional roller coaster. 

Take Back The Skies tells the story of Catherine (Cat) Hunter who is the daughter of a very high powered government official. Her privileged position enabled her to avoid being part of the child collections which go on in the land. Cat absolutely hates the government and everything that they're doing in the land. The final straw comes when her father wants to arrange her marriage so she takes the opportunity and runs away from home. Cat stows away on a sky ship and with the help of her new friends discovers more about what's happening in the world than she ever thought.

Truthfully when I started reading I had no idea what the book was about, I didn't even bother reading the blurb before I bought it. I picked up this book last July at London's Film & Comic Con solely due to the fact author Lucy Saxon was dressed in cosplay (which I thought was great!) and it's just been on my to read pile of books since. Based on my rubbish reason for buying this book I had extremely low expectations but boy did it prove me wrong. I was scared, I felt physically sick at points and at times it had some just plain heart wrenching moments. Lucy Saxon is one seriously talented author for her age and I’m so glad that I picked up this book.

I quite enjoyed reading about all of the characters in the book, particularly Fox even if he was a little moody at times. All of the sky ships inhabitants were delightful to read about. My only gripe really is how long Cat got away with being a boy. She seemed to blush anytime she got anywhere near Fox so I don't know how she got away with it. I also disliked the potential of the love triangle although thankfully nothing particularly came from it. All the ships crewmates have really distant likable personalities and although they aren’t featured too much during a book you do enjoy the scenes that they are in.

Take Back The Skies is part of a series each telling a completely different story set in another country of the same world - book number two is currently out. I got so emotionally involved in this book I just don't know if I can handle reading book two straight away! I cannot remember the last time a book made me feel such strong emotions when reading it so if you're a fan of books such Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen, you must make Take Back The Skies the next book you read.

Synopsis – 

Catherine Hunter is the daughter of a senior government official on the island of Anglya. She’s one of the privileged – she has luxurious clothes, plenty to eat, and is protected from the Collections which have ravaged families throughout the land. But Catherine longs to escape the confines of her life, before her dad can marry her off to a government brat and trap her forever.

So Catherine becomes Cat, pretends to be a kid escaping the Collections, and stows away on the skyship Stormdancer. As they leave Anglya behind and brave the storms that fill the skies around the islands of Tellus, Cat’s world becomes more turbulent than she could ever have imagined, and dangerous secrets unravel her old life once and for all...

Friday, 1 January 2016

Happy New Year!

So somehow 2015 is over and it flew by quicker than I could say happy New Year. I very rarely do more personal blog posts as I was always so worried about if anyone I knew in real life found my blog or if anyone would even want to read a more personal post but then I realised what do I have to lose. With it being something that I would like to change when better to start than on New Year’s Day.

2015 wasn’t the greatest of years for me. My life has fallen into a repetitive rut of waking up, going to a mundane 9-5 job, getting home from work then falling straight asleep. I know this is going to be my life as an employee from now on but 2015 destroyed my spark a little. Maybe I’m just bored of my job, I don’t really know but it’s something I would like to figure out and address in the upcoming year. 

Yet despite feeling like this, I did manage to achieve some of my last year’s resolutions. I’ve managed to blog at least once a week – tick! I met McFly – tick! I can play the ukulele and by that I mean I can play a damn good rendition of Do You Want To Build A Snowman from Frozen – tick! I saw lots of musicals - tick! I wrote over 20,000 words of a book I’m writing – tick! So overall I didn’t do too badly in things I wanted to achieve.   

Some things haven’t changed at all and I'm sure they won't in the upcoming year. My love of McFly/McBusted/Busted (or whatever combination they want to come up with next) remains as strong as ever, the way that no matter what mood I’m in blasting Taylor Swift’s oldest albums as loud as I can get away with never fails to improve my mood, how I would much rather stay at home reading the latest book I’m obsessed with rather than go outside...

Travelling is something I didn’t get to do much of in 2015. I’ve got itchy feet and I’m desperately wanting to see more of the world, you'll often find my longingly watching travel videos on YouTube. My job isn't paid great so financially I'm somewhat restricted and I'm not so fond of visiting some areas due to the unrest in the world right now but I'm hoping to be able to see more places.

2016 is also the year I would like to start documenting more of the things I do. I have thousands of photographs and videos of me doing things as a child and I'd like to do that more now so in the future I can look back at now in the future. I got a fancy new camera for Christmas so hopefully I'll be snapping and filming away when I do something exciting. 

Blogging is something I hope to be able to keep up with. I'm so grateful that somehow authors and publishers are willing to provide advanced copies of books for me to read and review and I hope this continues this year. Thank you to anyone who has ever read even one of my blog posts, it's such a great feeling to see that people are viewing your blog.

So welcome 2016. I’m going into the year with a fresh new mindset and here’s hoping it’s a good year.