Sunday, 4 September 2016

Bout of Books 17 Wrap-Up!

In a shocking turn of events, Bout of Books 17, like so many other Bout of Books before it, didn't quite go to plan.

In my defence, I said that my main goal was just to read more than I would have if I wasn't taking part and I do think I did that. However, as I'm in the middle of a reading slump that didn't really equals many pages...

I managed to plough my way through Vivian Versus the Apocolypse by Katie Coyle (big fan - watch out for a review in the near future!) however that was about all I managed to achieve. A couple of chapters here and there of a few other books but nothing substantial. 

There were times that I thought to myself that I was going to pick up a book instead of doing something else which was definitely a conscious decision based on the fact I was participating in the readathon but ultimately when you're in a reading slump as substantial as this one you're not magically going to get out of it.

I'm planning to do a more detailed post about this monster of a reading slump I'm currently experiencing but I'm glad Bout of Books spurred me on to finish one book at the very least. In my eyes that's enough of an achievement.

Did you take part in Bout of Books 17? How was it for you? Let me know in the comments below!

Lucy x

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Carrie Hope Fletcher Book Signing

I've been very involved with books for a very long time but one thing I'd never done was go to a book signing. When a friend said that Carrie Hope Fletcher was coming to Cardiff on her book tour for On The Other Side I knew we needed to go.

I've been a fan of Carrie's in various different ways for years now. I've followed her YouTube channel since she had one video up and I think she's a hugely talented actor/singer (I saw her in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang the day before the signing and she was incredible!). When All I Know Now came out last year I read it and loved it straight away. I found her writing easy to read whilst still being interesting which is the best combination in my eyes! I was already looking forward to On The Other Side and would've bought it anyway so for the price of the hardback book it made sense to buy a ticket to the signing which comes with a hardback copy of On The Other Side and get it signed by Carrie herself.

Although the queue was absolutely huge (as you can see in the photos!) we were out with signed books within the hour of the signing starting. We got there at about 11am for the 12pm signing expecting a queue to have already built up but were lucky enough to be relatively close to the front. While security didn't seem to really understand that fans of Carrie and her books aren't at all there to cause trouble and are more likely to make friends in the queue chatting about books than cause any trouble, the event was well organised and kept moving. 

Although time with Carrie was obviously short, she made sure she had an individual chat with every person she met and was absolutely lovely. The girl in front of me in the queue gave her a picture she had drawn which you can see in the photo (which I think we can all agree is absolutely incredible) and Carrie was so excited and made sure to let the girl know how much she appreciated it. I let her know I had this blog and said I'd be reviewing the book on it and she was so lovely and said that she really hopes I like it if I'm going to review it (which I'm sure I will!) and everyone had a chance to not only get their book signed but also get a photo with her. 

Although in total I probably only spent 2 minutes in Carrie's company the experience was brilliant. I feel so lucky to have met her even if it was brief and I absolutely love that I now own a personalised signed copy of On The Other Side! Also, one of my favourite things about events like this (I've found the same thing happens at other YouTube-related events like gigs and gatherings) is that everyone just chats to each other. An hour in the queue and I felt like I was friends with the people we were stood behind and in front of and I'm sure its because of similar personalities sharing the same interests. To the girls I met in the queue, you were all lovely and it was a pleasure to spend an hour with you, especially Sian (the hugely talented artist who gave Carrie the drawing!)

If you're considering going to a book signing like this I'd definitely recommend it. It was so much fun and to have a signed and personalised copy of a book will always be special. And to Carrie, thanks for being so wonderful and kind despite having to meet so many people. You were just as lovely as we were expecting you to be and its so nice that someone I admire so much lived up to that expectation.

Look out for a review of On The Other Side coming as soon as I finish the book! If you've already read it let me know what you thought of it below! (But no spoilers please!)

Lucy x

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Bout of Books 17!

It's about time for another readathon. I'm in a massive reading slump at the moment and taking part in something like Bout of Books might finally kick me out of it. I've taken part in it before and usually set myself the challenge of just reading more than I would in the average week to stop myself getting stressed by the pressure to read so that's what I will be doing this time!

I'm half way through several books at the moment but at least some of them I should be finished with by the time 22nd August rolls around. That being said, if there are others I've still left 100 pages of I will be aiming to finish as many of those as I can. I'd also love to get through Carrie Hope Fletcher's On The Other Side which I got at her Cardiff book signing recently (more info coming soon!) so that's on my TBR list.

If any of you are taking part let me know in the comments! And if any of you aren't sure what on earth I'm talking about I've left the info provided by Bout of Books below to explain.

Lucy x

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 22nd and runs through Sunday, August 28th 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 17 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team 

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne

330 Pages

Rating 5/5 (I'd give it more if I could!)

More info: goodreads

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the newest addition to the Harry Potter world, this time in the format of a play script. It returns back to the world we know and love, only this time we meet the familiar characters 20 years later and see how their lives have progressed. The story focuses mainly on the younger generation of Potters, Granger-Weasleys and Malfoys, with the characters from the main series playing important but not central roles. 

This latest release has been met with a lot of mixed feelings. First of all, before reading this please bear in mind that it is a script and should be read as such. If you pick it up expecting to return back to the wizarding world of Harry Potter exactly as you knew it in the same format you will definitely be disappointed. I've seen a fair few people leaving less than positive reviews mainly due to them reading it as a novel and not reading it as what it is. 

Although people generally seem unhappy with the new format, I personally really enjoyed it. I've done a lot of drama and theatre since I was little so I'm extremely familiar with reading scripts which may have contributed to this, but the main reason I enjoyed the format so much was that it let me fly through the story in a few hours. I found it to be incredibly visual and it played out in my head like a film rather than how a book normally would. To be the format was definitely a positive, however I can understand that its the type of thing I think people will either love or hate.

As for the story and plot, again I really enjoyed it. There were aspects I wish we had seen more of but recognising the limited amount of time due to it being a play, I thought the writers did the best with what space they had. Had it been a book I'm sure lots of the little bits would have been developed much further, however I can see why they couldn't be.

By far the stand out character of this newest addition to the Harry Potter world is Scorpious Malfoy. I really enjoyed getting to see a good slytherin character and I liked the fact he wasn't at all what you would aspect based on prior knowledge of his father and even grandfather. He made mistakes and felt realistic for doing so. Although Scorpious is by far my favourite character in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child I really enjoyed re-visiting the characters we know and love. While there were some key characters missing from even being mentioned (such as the Weasleys other than Ron and Ginny) it was nice to see how the majority of them have grown over the years in which we've not seen them. I loved that Rose Granger-Weasley was exactly like her mother and I liked that Albus wasn't a carbon copy of either of his parents. 

Similarly, I really loved that some of the iconic scenes from the main series were re-visited or mentioned. The battle of Hogwarts comes up in conversation several times and seeing the aftermath of it was really interesting. I absolutely loved the depth we see from re-visting other specific scenes, however I won't mention which scenes to avoid spoilers (if you've read it you'll know which ones I mean, particularly those towards the end). 

Overall I absolutely loved this. I understand that its not the same as the original series but despite this I thought it was brilliant. It was an incredibly visual return to the world I love so much and I think its a must read for any Potter fans itching to know what happened next, even if it turns out to not quite be your thing. 

Have you read it yet? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below!

Lucy x

Sunday, 31 July 2016

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

293 Pages

Rating: 3.5/5

More info: goodreads

If I Was Your Girl is the story of a transgender girl called Amanda as she aims to start a new life in a new town, hiding her past. Amanda is escaping those who knew her as Andrew and the abuse she faced as a result of living her life as who she really is. As things often are, however, it is far more complicated than just moving to a new town and starting fresh.

I really enjoyed this book. Although in many ways its your classic teenage love story, I really enjoyed the unique twist it had because the main character was transgender. When I saw the themes this book contained it struck me how little I've seen of this topic in young adult literature. Maybe transgender people are well represented and I've just missed it somewhere along the line but this is the first book I've ever come across which deals with the issue. While I hate that its taken this long for me to read something about this issue I'm glad I have now.

One thing I do think this book does so well is reminds you that the stories of transgender people are first and foremost the stories of people. This book is not about Amanda who is transgender, its about Amanda who is your typical teenage girl who happens to have had a different past to most of the people she's around. There are times in the book where I completely forgot about Amanda's past and I liked that the book helped remind its readers that 'transgender' is not the defining feature of her and people like her. It is important that the people around her acknowledge the struggles she's been through, which they do, but its equally important that they do not dwell on them, but instead allow her to live the life she's always wanted to live.

Although I have a limited understanding of what its like to be transgender as I cannot personally relate to Amanda's struggles, as a character she felt real and her struggles felt understandable and not out of reach for someone who hasn't experienced the same things. I think this book does a fantastic job of introducing people to the concept of transgender people and is positive and accessible in doing so.

Have you read this book? If not, I definitely recommend it! If you have, let me know your thoughts on it in the comments!

Lucy x

Sunday, 24 July 2016

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

453 Pages

Rating: 4/5

More info: goodreads

My Life Next Door follows Samantha Reed who falls for the boy next door who belongs to a family her mother despises. As Samantha gets closer and closer to the family next door, more and more problems begin to arise.

This book, in my opinion, is the perfect summer book. If you like Anna and the French Kiss and desperately want to jump back into a similar book I can't recommend this enough. While it arguably is very typical in its plot etc, it executes it perfectly. If you're looking for a nice YA romance to read on holiday that you won't be able to put down, you've found it in this book. I picked it up in Waterstones because I'd heard its title thrown around on booktube and although I didn't know much about it decided to buy it for my holiday. It didn't quite get 5/5 because I did have a few questions at the end, but all in all its a fantastic book and I would definitely recommend it!

Have you read My Life Next Door? Do you want to? Let me know in the comments!

Lucy x

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

357 Pages

Rating: 3/5

More info: goodreads

Set in the 1990s, Attachments follows Lincoln who is tasked with monitoring emails at a newspaper office and Beth and Jennifer, whose emails often end up getting read by Lincoln. As he reads more and more of their exchanges, Lincoln begins to feel as if he knows Beth and Jennifer, but they still only know him as the guy they occasionally see around the office. The more Lincoln wants to introduce himself to the girls, the more he realises that its much too late.

I've read a few of Rainbow Rowell's books before and as a result I have very high standards when it comes to her writing. I'm such a huge fan of Fangirl and Eleanor & Park that although I will always read Rainbow Rowell books, this just didn't quite live up to the expectations I had because of the other two books. 

I did enjoy this book. I found it interesting to read something set at the end of the 1990's and the start of my life (although before I can remember anything) as I don't remember reading anything set in that period. I found the cultural references of the time interesting too, although being 19 and not knowing what things like the Y2K bug were I did have to ask my parents a few things! That being said, I am always more than happy to read a book that makes me learn about other things, such as these things that happened in my lifetime but beyond my memory. 

While this isn't a bad book in any way, I gave it 3/5 because although it was a nice plot it was predictable and it just didn't feel up to the same standard as I've come to expect from Rainbow Rowell. I would recommend reading it if you've read and loved her other books like I have, although I wouldn't recommend it as the first of hers to read, as in my opinion it doesn't show how awesome she really is.

Have you read Attachments? If so, what did you think of it? Do you think it was as good as other Rainbow Rowell books? Let me know in the comments!

Lucy x