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

Sunday 10 July 2016

Exciting News!

This is a little bit different to the kind of thing I normally post but it felt like the kind of thing I should let you all know. It's not book related but it is writing related so it seemed relevant for ABookAndABrew.

I am an editor for The Tab Reading!

I found out last week and the new (and first) editorial team was announced on social media a few days ago meaning I can now let you all know. 

I am joining a group of people to help produce online content for The Tab. If you've not come across the name before, the easiest way to explain the site is a hugely popular online student newspaper. I'm super excited to be joining the team, mainly because I love the site so much myself. Being able to get involved in something I'm really passionate about it so exciting!

If you want to see who else is on the editorial team you can read the article The Tab Reading posted here.

Are you interested in staying updated with me and The Tab? If so I can do updates every now and then with articles I've been involved with. Let me know if you think that's a good idea in the comments below!

Lucy x

Sunday 3 July 2016

June Book Haul! (2016)

So I don't normally do book hauls because it is rare that I get a lot of books in one go but clearly June was an exception! After finishing my exams I decided to treat myself a little bit and get some books since I've not been able to read much for ages because of the exams!

I took a little trip into Waterstones while I was in town one day and decided to get a few holiday reads. When I'm on holiday I like to read things that are easy to fly through and don't take much thought which usually means I go for something YA and romance. I picked up My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick because I'd heard people talking about it and thought it fitted the occasion. I also saw a stand of books on 2 for 1 and couldn't resist so picked up If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo purely because it said on the back it is about someone who is transgender and I've never seen any books on this topic and The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood because it seemed like my kind of summer read.

I couldn't resist buying a few books online. I got Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates (not pictured because I forgot it was in my currently reading pile-oops!) which I am currently reading and loving. It essentially states the facts proving sexism is still a huge issue in our society and uses statements from real people to explain the facts. I love the way its written and will definitely be reviewing it when I'm done with it so keep an eye out for that! I also bought Room by Emma Donoghue and A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara because I've heard so much about them. With both of these books I've heard them mentioned everywhere and every time I am interested and want to read them. I decided it was time to finally buy them and I'm going to try not to get intimidated by the size of A Little Life and actually read it!

I also bought two books by Patrick Ness, The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Rest of Us Just Live Here. After reading A Monster Calls I was craving more Patrick Ness and after a conversation with a friend who shares my love for his writing (thanks Sophie!) I settled on these two to read next. I absolutely loved A Monster Calls so I'm hoping I enjoy these just as much!

So there we go! All the books I bought in June! Have you read any of these? If you have, what did you think of them? If not, would you like to read any of them? Let me know in the comments!

Lucy x

Sunday 26 June 2016

The Silent History by Eli Horowitz, Matthew Derby and Kevin Moffett

513 Pages

Rating: 3/5

More info: goodreads

The Silent History is the story of children who were born without the capacity for language, told by the people around them. While the children themselves are unable to explain their situation, their parents, teachers, doctors and more can. It is told from the perspectives of many different characters, each with a slightly different perspective on the issue, and sees the development of these children into adulthood and even through a second generation.

I picked this up in a bookshop purely because it sounded interesting which is something I do not do enough. That being said, I wasn't anywhere near as captivated by this book as I hoped I'd be. I've always been fascinated by language (proven by the fact I am currently studying German at University) and the concept of children born without this ability was fascinating to me. Unfortunately I didn't really love the way the concept was carried out.

It is told from many different perspectives which I found incredibly confusing for at least the first half of the book. While it is clear by the end that many of the characters lives' intertwine in some way, at the beginning it feels like reading lots of individual stories with small, if any, links, which makes it difficult to track who is who.

Although I'm not usually a fan of long books, I usually try to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume it is long for a reason. With this, however, I struggled to see the reason for it being so long. While I understand that much of it was to show development and create the links between different story lines, if it was shorter I feel like I would have enjoyed it more.

*SPOILERS*  I found the whole concept of the implant interesting, however the huge effect it had on the behaviour of children, in my opinion, was never fully explained. While the impact of language on humans was explored through the characters that are seen initially without it and then receive the ability through the implant was fascinating, in my opinion the unexplained and extreme reactions of children whose implant fails was unbelievable. I understand that the authors were trying to emphasise the huge effect language has on us, but I feel it was emphasised past the point of believability. *END OF SPOILERS*

While the idea behind the plot of this book is definitely interesting and incredibly unique, it is my opinion that the book itself didn't deliver as much as it could have. It had a lot of promise and is definitely not a bad book in any way, it was just not as good as I was expecting despite such an interesting concept.

If it sounds like the type of thing that would interest you it is worth a read. As mentioned, it is in no way a bad book, just maybe be prepared for it to be not quite as good as the blurb makes it sound.

Have you read The Silent History? Do you agree with me? Did you think the book was as good as its concept? Let me know in the comments!

Lucy x

Friday 27 May 2016

The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan

208 Pages

Rating: 4/5

Format: Paperback

More info: goodreads

The Opposite of Loneliness is a collection of essays and short stories written by Marina Keegan. Marina, a very promising writer, died in a car crash five days after her graduation from Yale. This book is the result of her teachers, friends and family wanting her voice to be heard despite this tragedy as they collated some of what they felt was her best work and published it.

I'll admit. Initially I was interested in this book mainly because of the concept of it. To publish something written by someone who was only 22 years old when she died must mean there is something pretty special about her writing, and there is.

Marina's writing is just beautiful and it really is no wonder that the people around her felt it needed to be put out into the world. Her essays were thought-provoking and I was emotionally invested in her stories despite some of them only being a few short pages long. It makes me sad that I will never be able to read more of Marina's writing, but I'm so glad that what already existed was published, despite the tragedy of what happened to her.

While the discussion around this book is often concerned with the writer and her personal story, it really should be about her writing. While its difficult to separate the two, Marina's writing is fantastic regardless of the background and the book should be praised because of that, not any external factors.

If you're a fan of short stories or essays I would definitely recommend this book. It was an easy read and nice to pick up and read a story now and then.

Have you read The Opposite of Loneliness? If so, what did you think? If not, would you like to? Let me know in the comments!

Lucy x 

Guess Who's Back...

 So... it's been a while! So looking at my most recent post, it's been a grand total of 7 years, 4 months and 12 days since I last u...