T5W: Favourite Bromances

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Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme run by Thoughts on Tomes. (You can find the Goodreads group for it here) This week’s topic is Favourite Bromances! A bromance = platonic relationship between two characters who identify as male. So here are some of my faves…

  1. Frodo and Sam, The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkein – Their friendship was truly put to the test on their journey to Mount Doom, but Sam stuck by Frodo all the way and they came out still friends. sam the lord of the rings frodo fellowship of the ring elise GIF
  2. Merry and Pippin, also The Lord of the Rings – These two are adorable and I love them. Their friendship really is more like brothers. the lord of the rings gandalf merry return of the king pippin GIF
  3. Jean-Luc and Vic in London Belongs to Us by Sara Manning – These two are so alike that everyone thinks they’re twins (they’re actually cousins) and they’re hilarious and sweet and bounce off each other brilliantly.26177619.jpg
  4. Back to The Lord of the Rings with Legolas, Gimli and Aragorn – This is the ultimate bro-triangle. No arguments. gandalf aragorn elise legolas gimli GIF
  5. Jace and Alec in The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare – Although Jace actually lets Alec down over and over again, prioritising girls and his confusing parental relationships over his parabatai, Alec never lets go of his connection to Jace. And that’s some serious commitment. shadowhunters isabelle lightwood clary fray alec lightwood jace wayland GIF

    What are your favourite book bromances? Let me know!

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The Waking Land – Callie Bates

34610036Fourteen years ago, Elanna was kidnapped by King Antoine and held hostage in order to put down her father’s rebellion. Now 20, Elanna stands accused of King Antione’s murder and finds herself taken prisoner once again, this time by her father’s men. “Rescued” to be made into the figurehead of her father’s rebellion, Elanna must come to terms with her internal struggle and choose whose side she’s on, because only she possesses the power to wake the land.

As far as fantasy novels go, The Waking Land isn’t bad. Nor is it brilliant. Elanna is a strong heroine with a lot of personality, while her inner turmoil – being split between her true people and the people who raised her – is an unusual and enjoyable feature of the story. I also liked a lot of the other characters: Jahan and Finn are both good romantic heroes, and Rhia, Sophy and Victoire are marvellous characters. I also really liked the Butcher (although I’m not completely sure we’re supposed to).

However, characters aside, the story was quite weak. Overall, the premise is good and there are a lot of positive aspects, but these weren’t brought together very well. Many parts of the story read as though the author came up with an idea she liked, and just threw it in without properly integrating it into the story.

The Waking Land is a perfect example of why you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover (although that is something I admit I do regularly). The cover is absolutely stunning while the story inside is enjoyable but weak. With so many other fantasy series on offer, I wouldn’t recommend wasting your time on this one (unless you really want it on your shelf, which I understand).

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

T5W – Books From Before You Joined The Online Book Community

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Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme run by Thoughts on Tomes. (You can find the Goodreads group for it here) This week’s topic is Favourite Books From Before You Joined The Online Book Community. For me, this means my favourite books from before starting my blog and joining Goodreads. Here we go!

  1. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman – I gush about this book every time anyone asks me about my favourites, so I won’t say too much now. It’s a work of absolute genius. Just read it.good-omens-2
  2. The Call of the Wild by Jack London – I’ve loved this book since I was (quite) little. I think it might be the only book I’ve ever enjoyed written from the point-of-view of an animal, and Buck is still one of my favourite book-animals. This book has so much depth as well as drama and excitement.call-wild-jack-london-paperback-cover-art
  3. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine – I was attracted to this book for obvious reasons (in case you hadn’t realised, my name is Ella) and I do usually enjoy almost any fairytale retelling. This one was particularly good. Do not let the film put you off – I hated it. Anne Hathaway was a terrible casting choice and they changed the story so much! The book is well worth a read.858361
  4. Angelfall by Susan Ee – My favourite paranormal YA book ever. I loved Twilight, The Mortal Instruments and The Hunger Games, but Angelfall takes the crown in my opinion. The heroine is sassy and loveable, the hero isn’t abusive and the side characters are a delight, but because it’s never been made into a film it doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.15863832.jpg
  5. The Woodcutter by Kate Danley – This is a blend of fairytales, told from the point-of-view of a minor but integral character: the woodcutter. It’s complicated but well thought out, and one of the best works of imagination I’ve read.16128504

A few of these are childhood favourites and, to be honest, since joining the online book community my favourites haven’t changed very much. What are your favourite books (from before or since finding your way onto WordPress)?

Liebster Award

I’ve been very kindly nominated for this award by the lovely Darque Dreamer Reads – her blog is beautiful so go check it out.

This is a fun award because we all get to learn some new things about each other and spread the blogger-love.

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The Rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Give 11 random facts about you.
  3. Answer the 11 questions they gave you.
  4. Nominate 11 blogs.
  5. Give them 11 questions to answer.

11 Random Facts About Me:

  1. I have never broken a bone.
  2. If I could, I would eat pizza and garlic bread every single day.
  3. I love the idea of physical books, and having them on my shelves, but I actually find reading easier on my kindle.
  4. I reallyreallyreally want to work in publishing.
  5. I’m slowly collecting and playing the Lego video games, but I only have a PS3 so options are limited.
  6. I have vitiligo.
  7. There are 36 physical books on my shelves that I haven’t read yet.
  8. I have a mild obsession with giraffes.
  9. I am in Gryffindor.
  10. My favourite colour is green.
  11. My favourite chore is doing the laundry.

Questions From Darque Dreamer Reads:

  1. Have you read a book with a perfect ending?
    I’m not sure perfect is the word in the sense that it was actually a very distressing ending, but the ending of The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell was perfectly horrifying.
  2. Does your favorite movie have a perfect ending?
    My favourite movie is Sucker Punch. The ending actually isn’t perfect in my opinion but does draw the story to a close effectively.
  3. Why did you start your blog?
    I just stumbled across some book blogs one day and thought they were a marvellous idea. If other people could do this, why shouldn’t I? (And I’m glad I did).
  4. Do you have a follower goal in mind?
    Ideally I’d love to have a huge following, but it’s not that important to me. I blog for myself and to review books – if people want to follow my blog that’s just a bonus.
  5. What advice would you give to your beginner blog self?
    Interact more with other bloggers! Make the time to go and read other people’s posts. How can you expect anyone to read your reviews if you don’t read theirs?
  6. Where is the best place you have visited?
    THIS IS SO HARD. I’ve been to some really amazing places: Italy, Paris, Costa Rica… but I also love places like London, and Disneyland is very special.
  7. Who is the most inspirational person in your life?
    Probably my mum.
  8. What is your favorite book or movie genre?
    Book = Fantasy. Movie = maybe Indie/Fantasy
  9. If you could write yourself in to a book or movie, which one would you be a character in?
    An obvious choice, but Harry Potter. Who wouldn’t want to go to Hogwarts?
  10. Do you like going to concerts?
    I like some concerts. I went to see McBusted most recently and that was absolutely fantastic, but I don’t really like crowds so it depends on the type of music and whether I think the performance would be worth seeing. Anything likely to have mosh pits is an absolute no.
  11. What is one food you absolutely hate?
    Mushrooms. Ughughugh nope I can’t.

My Questions:

  1. What was your first favourite book?
  2. Do you prefer series or standalones?
  3. What do you find hardest about blogging?
  4. If you could have any pet, what would you choose?
  5. What was the last movie you saw at the cinema? Did you enjoy it?
  6. What book should everyone read?
  7. Other than books, what is something you’re passionate about?
  8. Can you play any instruments?
  9. What’s your favourite book/movie quote?
  10. Best movie soundtrack?
  11. What is the best book you’ve read in 2017 so far?

I Nominate:

Always Trust in Books | Snazzy Books | Book Hooked Nook | The Wanderlust Reader | Boston Book Reader | That Book Gal | Linda’s Little Library

T5W – Characters’ Fitness Routines You Want

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Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme run by Thoughts on Tomes. (You can find the Goodreads group for it here) This week’s topic is Characters’ Fitness Routines You Want. Fortunately, this is open to interpretation: it can be any kind of ‘fitness’. That means fit and healthy characters, or ones whose routines involve a decent amount of food. I suspect that my list will include more of the latter*…

*Update: It turns out characters who stuff their faces with cake and pizza at every opportunity are pretty rare in the books I read.

  1. All of the gods in Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman – As gods, this bunch are blessed with beauty and grace, and are muscular and powerful (think Thor), and yet they have regular feasts and eat and drink an insane amount (again, Thor). I would like their fitness regime because they don’t really do a lot, but stay beautiful and healthy through god-power. Which would be ideal.30809689
  2. Mma Ramotswe in The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall-Smith – Mma Ramotswe has no fitness regime (other than drinking tea), and instead prides herself on her traditional build. I love this view that big is beautiful (although she does do a fair bit of skinny-shame which I don’t agree with). 816167.jpg
  3. The Shadowhunters in The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare – The Shadowhunters (i.e. Jace, Clary and the others) train every day. This keeps them in peak physical condition, but it’s more than just a work out. The exercise their minds as well and improve their skills, doing something they love with their friends which makes it fun rather than just hard work. 256683.jpg
  4. Lula in the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich – Lula runs around all over the place helping Stephanie catch criminals, and then chows down on pizza, fried chicken and copious amounts of doughnuts. She’s proud of her figure and maintains her fitness as she wants, regardless of what anyone else might think.6853

Okay, try as I might, I can’t come up with a fifth character whose fitness routine I’d want. To be honest, it’s not something I take much notice of when I read. So there’s my Top 4 instead!

Are there any obvious ones I’ve missed out? What characters’ fitness routines would you want?

All That’s Left to Tell – Daniel Lowe

35056167This is a difficult book to sum-up, but I’ll do my best!

Marc Laurent, having been taken hostage in Pakistan, receives a visitor every night. He is bound and blindfolded, and then a woman named Josephine comes to question him. To begin with, she only wants to know who to contact to ransom him, but soon her questions become more difficult, more probing, as she asks why he didn’t go home for his daughter, Claire’s, funeral. Josephine begins to tell Marc a story about his daughter’s life had she not been killed, and in turn Marc starts to tell his own stories about Claire’s life. As truth and fantasy become so mixed that Marc can no longer tell which is real, a father and daughter start finding ways to understand each other again.

All That’s Left to Tell is a compelling slow-burner, and truly fascinating. Like Marc, I found myself utterly pulled in by Josephine’s stories, and desperate to find out what happened to Claire despite knowing it wasn’t real. There are stories within stories and trying to work out which were true and decipher the meaning behind Josephine’s story-telling was both fun and frustrating.

Not knowing which parts were real and which were made-up made this book a unique read: mysterious, engaging and unlike anything I’ve read before. It is skilfully written and completely engrossing, despite the plot not being very eventful or exciting. I highly recommend it.

Goodreads | Amazon

Last Seen Alive – Claire Douglas

34204310In Claire Douglas’ gripping new thriller, secrets and lies begin to tear up the lives of Libby Hall and her husband, Jamie. Following a fire and a tragic miscarriage, Libby and Jamie receive a note asking for them to do a house swap by a couple needing to be near a hospital for the sake of their daughter. The timing couldn’t be better, so Libby and Jamie agree to exchange their flat in Bath for a secluded house in Cornwall. But when they reach their temporary home, Libby can’t shake the feeling that they’re not entirely alone. Their marriage is about to put through the wringer as Jamie learns that some secrets are better shared, and Libby’s past threatens to catch up with her.

Last Seen Alive drew me in on the very first page. I’d previously read and loved Douglas’ Local Girl Missing, so had high hopes and was not at all disappointed. The story progresses slowly but, instead of being boring, this gently builds up the tension to unbearable levels. You know something is coming, but it is impossible to guess what.

I liked Libby. She clearly has problems, but these are revealed quite slowly which allows time to develop a connection with her, which stops her paranoia and insecurities from becoming annoying. It is obvious that there problems have stemmed from something in her past – even if we don’t know what – rather than her just being a wimpy character.

Every aspect of the story is engaging and intriguing. There’s a big twist (which I totally did not see coming) and it’s a good’un. Shocking and unpredictable, but makes complete sense. And that ending! (Read it and you’ll understand).

Many thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy to review!

Goodreads | Amazon

Fatal Masquerade by Vivian Conroy – COVER REVEAL

Today is a very exciting day, because it’s the big Cover Reveal day for Vivian Conroy’s latest Lady Alkmene Mystery book: Fatal Masquerade. I love the glitz and glamour of this detective series, and am thrilled to be able to show off the new cover, right here on The Story Collector!

Lady Alkmene and Jake Dubois are back in a gripping new adventure facing dangerous opponents at a masked ball in the countryside.

The 1920s have never been more murderous

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Fatal Masquerade (A Lady Alkmene Cosy Mystery, #4)

Lady Alkmene Callender has always loved grand parties, but when she receives an invitation to a masked ball thrown by Franklin Hargrove – oil magnate, aviation enthusiast and father of her best friend, Denise – she’s never seen such luxury. The estate is lit up with Chinese lanterns in the gardens, boats operated by footmen float across the pond and the guest list features the distinguished, rich and powerful!

But below the glamour, evil is lurking. When a dead body is discovered, it forces Lady Alkmene to throw off her mask and attempt to find the true killer before Denise’s family are accused. If only her partner, Jake Dubois, weren’t hiding something from her…

This case might just be more dangerous than either of them could have imagined.

Goodreads | Amazon

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The How I Choose My Books Tag

I haven’t done a tag in a while, so thought I’d better get round to doing one I was tagged in recently. The How I Choose My Books Tag was created by The Bookish Underdog, and I was tagged by Darque Dreamer Reads. Both of these blogs are beautiful and definitely worth checking out.

1. Find a book on your shelves with a blue cover. What made you want to pick up this book?

Strange The Dreamer – Laini Taylor.

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This book was EVERYWHERE in the lead up to its publication. I’ve read some of Laini’s books before and adored them, and the pre-order version of this book came with a lovely shiny cover and blue sprayed edges. I just couldn’t resist.

2. Think of a book you didn’t expect to enjoy but did. Why did you read it in the first place?

The Evil Seed – Joanne Harris.

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I wasn’t sure about this book to begin with. I really wasn’t keen on the cover, but it’s about vampires so there was hope (I like vampires). I’d read some Joanne Harris before and really loved it (Runemarks and The Gospel of Loki – both based on Norse mythology so very different subject matter) and I needed to add a bunch of cheapish books to my kindle before I went on holiday. The Evil Seed was 99p at the time so I figured I’d just give it a go. Glad I did.

3. Stand in front of your bookshelf with your eyes closed and pick up a book at random. How did you discover this book?

Heartland – Lucy Houssom.

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I saw TorUK tweet about this book (coming soon), along with a new cover for the first in the series. I had never heard of it, but I really loved the look of the cover so I sent them a cheeky tweet and ended up being sent a copy of each! So I have Tor to thank for helping me to discover this.

4. Pick a book that someone personally recommended to you. What did you think of it?

American Gods – Neil Gaiman.

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After I enjoyed Good Omens so much, my dad recommended this one for me to try next. My parents got me the massive illustrated version for Christmas and I managed to get it read before the TV adaptation started. I. Loved. It. I thought it was meaningful, thought-provoking and (obviously, being Gaiman) brilliantly written.

5. Pick a book you discovered through book blogs. Did it live up to the hype?

This Is How It Always Is – Laurie Frankel.

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I saw a lot of reviews of this book before I managed to get my hands on a copy. When I did I had very mixed feelings. On one hand, I was thrilled because the proof copy I had was shiny, gold and pretty. On the other hand, I was a little sceptical because there was A LOT of hype. It did live up to it though.

6. Find a book on your shelves with a one word title. What drew you to this book?

Defender – G.X. Todd.

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I saw a giveaway for this book on Facebook and, after looking up the synopsis, decided it sounded really intriguing. It didn’t have a cover at the time, but the blurb was enough to gain my interest. I entered the giveaway and won a limited edition hardback!

7. What book did you discover through a film/TV adaptation?

The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien.

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This is the only book (that I can think of) that I’ve read after seeing the film of first. However, I have a couple more lined up because the films were or look fantastic: Before I fall by Noah Hawley, and A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.

8. Think of your all-time favourite books. When did you read these and why did you pick them up in the first place?

The Call of the Wild – Jack London.

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This has been my favourite book since childhood. My mum must have given me this to read because I read it very young and the copy I have was most definitely not new.

Now You See Me – Lesley Glaister.

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I picked up in a bookshop in my early teens when my dad took me in and told me I could have any one book I wanted. The title drew me in first, and then so did cover and blurb. The story is emotional and beautiful.

Good Omens – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

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My family recommended this book to me and I absolutely loved it. I’ve re-read it a few times since, and I even persuaded my boyfriend to read it (he doesn’t read much).

I Tag…

City of Novels // Rustling Reads // Lots of Livres // Bibliophile Soprano // The Bookish Baker // That Book Gal // Serial Bibliophile // Reading with Lori // Between the Pages.

 

T5W – Book Covers You’d Live In

118368Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme run by Thoughts on Tomes. (You can find the Goodreads group for it here) This week’s topic is book covers you’d live in! What this means is books with covers that you’d like to be transported into. So, here’s my Top 5!

  1. The Waking Land by Callie Bates – I love the magical forest vibe of this cover, and the shiny leaves on the hardcover version. It just looks like it would be such a beautiful forest to walk through and, as far as book covers go, this one if pretty stunning. 34610036
  2. Cartes Postales from Greece by Victoria Hislop – To be honest, the picture on this cover just looks like such a beautiful holiday destination, and I know the pictures in this book are photographs of real places so being transported there wouldn’t be entirely impossible! 29082369.jpg
  3. The Witchwood Crown by Tad Williams – I love a castle, and the one on this cover looks particularly dark and mysterious. I would love to see what the rest of the world in this book looks like. 29927235
  4. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden – Now, I wouldn’t necessarily want to live in this cover (it looks cold) but I would definitely like to visit and meet the fantastical Russian spirits described in the story. 25489134
  5. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – The clothes of the silhouettes on this cover look fantastic and I love the mysterious black and white effect. It really makes me want to go to the night circus and see what it’s all about. 10860047.jpg

So that’s my Top 5 Book Covers I’d Live In! What covers would you like to be transported into?