Saturday, 29 November 2014

The Book Sacrifice Tag

In my opinion, the words 'book' and 'sacrifice' should never be used in the same sentence. *strokes books lovingly* Unfortunately I have been forced into this act of book abuse by Sophie at A Day Dreamer's World and Georgia at The Books Bandit, so you can blame them for the bookish blasphemy which you're about to see... ;)

First scenario: Let's start this off with a Zombie Apocalypse! Let's say you're in a book store, just browsing, when BAM! ZOMBIE ATTACK. An announcement comes over the PA System saying that the military has discovered that the zombies' only weakness is over-hyped books. What book that everyone else says is amazing, but you really hate, do you start chucking at the zombies knowing that it will count as an over-hyped book and successfully wipe them out?

I'd rather not throw a book at anything, but saving the world from zombies sounds pretty cool. So, The Geography of You and Me it is. I swear everyone except me loved it. *throws*

Second scenario: Let's say you've just left the salon with a SMASHING new haircut and BOOM! Torrential downpour. What sequel are you willing to use as an umbrella to protect yourself?

If the sky looks dark, I'll probably have an umbrella with me somewhere anyway. I live in England, it's what we're good at. BUT. If my umbrella snapped because of the wind (this has happened to me twice before; never buy your umbrellas from Primark) I would use Split Second by Kasie West. I read the first book and loved it, but I haven't had time to read this one yet. You can't miss something you haven't read, right? ...Right?

Third scenario: Let's say you're in a lecture and your English teacher is going on and on about how this classic changed the world, how it revolutionized literature, and you get so sick of it that you chuck the classic right at his face, because you know what? This classic is stupid and it's worth detention just to show everyone how you feel! What classic did you chuck?

This happened to me a few months ago, actually, although I didn't throw a book at my teacher's face... the book was To Kill a Mockingbird. I know it's a book that means a lot to the majority of people who have read it, and it is a huge part of literature, but I struggled to get into it and gave up on page 49, having taken a week to get to that point already. So. *Aggressively throws book*

Fourth scenario: Let's say you're hanging out at the library when BAM! Global warming explodes and the world outside becomes a frozen wasteland. You're trapped and the only chance of survival is to burn a book for warmth. What is the book you first run to, your least favourite book of all life? What book do you not fully regret lighting? 

I would happily set fire to Stella by Helen Eve. It was messy, irritating and pointless, and I think I gave it one star. I still don't understand what happened at the end as it was so rushed. Get it away from me, please. Sorry.

Fifth scenario: You're about to go up on stage when you realise you're chewing gum. You have all your favourite series' backstage to steady your nerves before your performance and you realise you have to rip out the last page of the last book in one of your favourite series' to get rid of your gum because you can't go on stage chewing gum! What book do you choose to rip out the last page of?

You know there's sometimes a couple of blank pages at the end of a book for no apparent reason? I pick the last page of City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare, because how important is a blank page to me anyway? Technically that isn't cheating... ;) While I'm here, does anyone actually know what those blank pages are for? I'm curious now...

What books would you sacrifice?

Monday, 24 November 2014

You Know You're a Book Blogger When...

1) Sundays make you sad because there is no post on Sundays.

2) You begin to hyperventilate as you walk past a bookshop. 

3) Before you even get to the hyperventilating stage, whoever you're with glares at you and says "No." What? It's not like you were going to go in there or anything...

4) Your Instagram feed looks a lot like this.

5) You know the title of a book just by holding it. (Seriously though, the other day I picked up a book without looking and, due to the thickness of it, I instantly knew it was Soulmates by Holly Bourne. New party trick? Yes.)

6) Who needs sleep? You have blog posts to write, and books to photograph, and emails to reply to, and old review books that really need reading now...

7) You're doing something that has nothing to do with books, i.e doing household chores, homework, or showering, and you begin to write a blog post in your head. You multitasking little pro, you.

8) It annoys you when you have a series of books that are all the same height, and then the last one is massive... I'm looking at you, City of Heavenly Fire. Go away, think about what you've done, and only come back when you match the other books.

9) You want to cry when you have to read a book for school, because you know it'll mean sacrificing your TBR pile for a while...

10) The post comes, you sit on your bed, you open review books. Later, you go to bed, and accidentally sleep with two or three press releases. This is a regular occurrence for you. Tidying is for the weak.

11) You fangirl with fellow bloggers on Twitter before bed. "I'll only be on here for ten minutes," you think. But...

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Top 5 Books to Read This Winter

The cold weather is settling in, I'm almost permanently in my cat onesie (not ashamed) and caffeine addicts are fangirling over their Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Although, as my Starbucks-obsessed friend just helpfully pointed out, they're not available anymore. I didn't know that. I'm so out of the loop.

But you get my point: it's officially winter, and therefore it's time to sit in front of the fire and read, read, read.

If you're like me and you don't have a fire, consider this an early Christmas present from me to you:

You're very welcome.

To celebrate the fact it's nearly my favourite day of the year, I thought I'd share with you the top 5 books you need to read this winter, starting with...

1) My True Love Gave to Me by Stephanie Perkins, Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt de la Peña, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, Laini Taylor and Kiersten White // My review // Buy the Book

This is at the top of the list because, as I said in my review, this book is Christmas. It's so wintry, festive, and gorgeous, and with twelve short stories to pick from, you don't have to read the entire thing at once. It's like a lucky dip of wonderful bookish goodness. ❤

2) Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan // Buy the Book

I have yet to finish this but I love it a lot. I mean, two people find love on a bookshelf. What could be better than that? Put your feet up, grab a hot chocolate, and let yourself be transported to winter in New York. To be honest, though, you don't even have to read the book to do that... just look at that beautiful cover.

3) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein // My review // Buy the Book

This isn't festive, and it's not exactly a happy book, but it's so well written and I was enthralled for days, even when I wasn't actually sat there reading it. Wein is such an incredible author and this is the perfect book to lose yourself in during the cold months.

4) A Boy Called Hope by Lara Williamson // My review // Buy the Book

A Boy Called Hope will tug at your heartstrings and probably make your eyes all leaky, but it's such a great book for huddling under a blanket with. After reading this book, you might want to go and tell everyone closest to you how much you appreciate them.

5) The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S Lewis // Buy the Book

The festive season is the perfect time for childhood rereads, isn't it? And, knowing how predictable British TV can be, I bet the film will be playing on Christmas day so you might want to have a read beforehand. Featuring a land of snow and an actual Snow Queen, how could I not put this on the list? This book has been loved for generations, and will be loved for more generations to come.

What are your favourite wintry books?

Friday, 14 November 2014

DISCUSSION: Should Bloggers Review Everything They're Sent?

It's no secret that book bloggers get a lot of books, whether they're sent for review or if they were bought as part of an extreme bookish shopping spree. I'm not exempt from that, but the thing is, when I go into a reading slump, it goes on for months, not just days. Needless to say, the TBR pile is infinite, and it actually scares me a little bit, because I know I'll never get to the bottom of it.

There have been times where it has stressed me out so much I've considered stopping blogging (I could never bring myself to do that, though. I love blogging far too much.) Truthfully, getting books to review from publishers is an honour, and I'm so grateful to receive them. I'll never be able to thank them enough. But that doesn't stop bloggers getting stressed about it from time to time!

Back in March, I decided to go on Twitter (I say "go" - I'm always on there) and ask if anyone actually reviews all of the books they get, whether they're from publishers or if they've bought them. I've included the responses in this post because they made me feel a lot better and I thought they might reassure others who are in the same situation.

Hopefully they'll help reassure anyone else struggling with an infinite TBR realise that it's okay - you don't have to read and review everything! That would be impossible... I wish it was possible, though. We're doing publishers and authors a favour, but we're not obliged to read everything we're sent - this is not our job, after all. I'd particularly like to point out Debbie's tweet about how even just including a book in your haul gets it publicity, whether you end up reviewing it or not. That's better than nothing, right?

What about you? Do you try to read all of your review books? How do you cope?
Friday, 7 November 2014

Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

Title: Roomies
Author: Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando
Published by: Hodder and Stoughton
Publication date: 2nd January 2014
Pages: 279
Genres: YA Contemporary/Romance/Coming-of-age
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

The countdown to university has begun...

When Elizabeth receives her first-year roommate assignment at the beginning of summer, she shoots off an email to coordinate the basics: TV, microwave, mini-fridge. She can't wait to escape her New Jersey beach town - and her mom - and start life afresh in California.

That first note to Lauren in San Francisco comes as a surprise; she had requested a single. But if Lauren's learned anything from being the oldest of six, it's that you don't always get what you want, especially when what you want is privacy.

Soon the girls are emailing back and forth, sharing secrets even though they've never met. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives... and each other.

Of the few co-authored books I've read, not many have been great (anyone remember my review of The Iron Trial? That book was awful.) So, while I'd heard great things about Roomies from my friends, I was a bit apprehensive. But let me tell you something: if you're like me and you haven't had a good experience with co-authored books in the past, you don't have to worry about this one. It was only when I finished the book that I remembered it was by two authors, not just one; sometimes in books, the two-author thing just doesn't seem to work, but here, the writing was seamless.

I'd been expecting something a bit like Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, but despite the obvious common theme, Roomies wasn't like that at all, and surprisingly I was glad about that. Written with alternating POVs, the two characters living across the country from each other keep in contact via email, which is where we see their friendship grow. I liked how they weren't talking to each other all the time, and that the focus was usually on things going on in each of their lives.

I also liked that the book showed how easy it can be to take things the wrong way online, which is something Elizabeth and Lauren were constantly doing. At one point, Elizabeth thought Lauren was rude because she'd sent a short and to-the-point email, when in reality, Lauren had been busy looking after her five younger siblings at the time.

What disappointed me - yes, after all those good things, this book wasn't entirely perfect, after all - was the ending. All that build up, consisting of a countdown to when they would meet, endless emails, excitement about leaving home... and then the book ends with Elizabeth opening the door to her new room. I guess in some ways it is a nice ending, but I would have loved to actually see the two meet. I was wondering if there might be a sequel but unfortunately I can't find anything.

All in all, this was a nice book and I enjoyed reading about Elizabeth and Lauren's lives, and I also loved how diverse and culturally exploratory this book was, but it's not one of those books I can fangirl about and I don't think it's one I'll ever push on someone to read. In the end, reading it started to feel like a chore, and I think that was due to the fact that the girls were counting down the days until university. so it started to feel like a race to the finish. If you like college/university stories then Roomies might be for you, but sadly, this time, the same can't be said for me.
Monday, 3 November 2014

DISCUSSION: Comments vs. Page Views

You know that game called 'Would You Rather?' Let's do that. (It's also an awesome book by Chris Higgins, but this isn't the time for recommending books...)

I like getting comments because...
  • It means my blog post made someone think. 
  • I love hearing other peoples' opinions.
  • Sometimes comments, especially on discussion posts, can bring up a really good point that I didn't think of myself, and/or make me think about something differently.
  • It can be a way of finding new blogs to read.
  • While page views show you exactly how many times your post has been seen, I feel like comments actually prove it. To me, comments are people, and page views are just numbers.
But I also like looking at page views because...
  • It fascinates me! I hate maths but it's so interesting seeing how popular/unpopular a blog post is.
  • It's nice to know there are people actually reading this. When I started my very first blog, Blogger didn't even have a way to check stats. I was convinced no one was reading until they finally introduced stats four years later! 
Would I rather get more comments or more page views? I think I'm going to go with... comments. Page views are nice, but I love that feeling when you see '[random number here] comments awaiting moderation' on the dashboard. I also love leaving comments! But what about you?

Would you rather get more comments or more page views?

P.S I don't usually do an 'add on' at the bottom of a blog post, but I have news! It's so exciting and you can read what I'm talking about here.