Sunshine Blogger Award

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Thank you Jenaca for the nomination, very sweet of you! Everyone should check out her blog over at Jenacidebybibliophile and also her post for the Sunshine Blogger Award here.

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Rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  3. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write then 11 new questions.
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

Questions:

  1. Dogs or Cats or Hamsters and why?

    DOGS. DOGSDOGSDOGS. Always dogs. I have one and she’s adorable, I am not a fan of cats, and I’ve never had much of an opinion on hamsters.
     dog running dogs slow motion alx GIF

     

  2. If you could live in any period and any place in time when and where would it be?

    I would choose either right here, right now, or the time of cavemen because it strikes me as a much simpler time.

     

  3. What is the last book you hated and why?

    I don’t hate many books, so probably Fifty Shades of Grey because it’s essentially abuse disguised as a romantic love story. Also TERRIBLY written.

     

  4. Favourite author and favourite book (not necessarily by the same author)?

    Favourite author is Joanne Harris because she’s super talented and her books are really diverse (she’s got vampires, Norse mythology, French romance, etc, etc). Favourite book is The Call of the Wild by Jack London. I just love it.

     

  5. What is something you wish people knew about you?

    I wish people knew that I’m actually pretty friendly. And that all employers knew I’d actually be a fantastic employee so HIRE ME.
     cool adventure time awesome creeper im cool and awesome GIF

  6. How long have you been blogging?

    Just over one year.

     

  7. What is your favourite type of character in a book?

    I love a villain, of course, as long as they’re either really sassy or super evil (think Hades from Disney’s Hercules or President Snow from The Hunger Games). I also love a strong female lead BUT ONLY IF she’s not whiny, irritating, or involved in any love triangles.

     disney cartoon cartoons hercules hades GIF

  8. What is your favourite TV show?

    I love TV so there are a few. To pick just one I’d go with Gossip Girl. gossip girl michelle trachtenberg georgina sparks the world needs gossip girl GIF

     

  9. What is your favourite holiday? Why?

    Disneyland. 100%. I’ve only been to Paris but I imagine the American ones are also fantastic. Otherwise, somewhere with sunshine, things to see and great food (i.e. Italy).

     

  10. What 3 famous/fictional people, living or dead, would you want at your fantasy dinner party?

    To be honest I’d probably pick people like Joey Essex, The Rock and Anna Kendrick because I just think we’d have a hilarious time.
     joey GIF

     

  11. What’s your pet peeve(s)?

    PEOPLE TALKING TO ME WHILE I’M READING. I’m sitting here, minding my own business, reading my book. Please, just leave me alone.

I nominate…

  1. The Introverted Book Nerd
  2. I Should Read That
  3. The Book Raven
  4. Boston Book Reader
  5. Rimpysreads
  6. Linda’s Little Library
  7. Beaucoupbooks
  8. The Bohemian Bookworm
  9. Fantastic Book Dragon
  10. Susanlovesbooks
  11. Keeana’s Korner

I’m not going to write a new list of questions because I’m feeling lazy so, if you want to do the tag, answer than same questions as me!

Enchantress – James Maxwell

22617388.jpgSince childhood, Ella has dreamed of becoming an enchantress. Her brother, Miro, has his own dreams of becoming a bladesinger – one of the world’s greatest swordsmen. While the two set forth to achieve their dreams, a darkness is brewing, taking over the land bit by bit and the siblings find themselves being accelerated forward as Miro is sent to the front and Ella becomes involved in a life-changing adventure. Her actions will determine the fate of her brother, her homeland, and the entire world.

Enchantress is the first book in the Evermen Saga, setting the scene for some very grand adventures. It is long (600+ pages) and very detailed, which makes the world-building and character development excellent. The story-world is well thought out (and there’s a map! I love a map), and bears many similarities to the real world, making it easy to comprehend (issues such as race and social status come into play). There are a lot of different characters, but only a few are known to us in great detail so the number of characters never gets confusing. New characters throughout the book are introduced well and integrated into the story.

I personally loved reading about a main character called Ella (in case you hadn’t realised, that’s my name) and I found her to be a mostly likeable character. Her storyline was particularly interesting and fun to read. Miro’s plot interested me slightly less; there was a lot of detail about his movements on the front line of battle, with full inclusion of general life in war rather than just individual battles. Although I was less into this, the whole thing was still very engrossing.

Enchantress is a very good and well written book, but I have mixed feelings about the series. It almost falls into the YA category, but with some pretty heavy violence, some slightly-more-than-PG sex scenes and references to almost rape pushing it more comfortably out of YA and into adult fantasy. While reading, I wasn’t sure whether I’d bother carrying on to the next instalment, but now, having finished, I’m finding myself very tempted to buy book #2.

Goodreads | Amazon

Death Plays a Part – Vivian Conroy

35221349With her London theatre closed for renovations. Guinevere takes on a summer job at the castle on the Cornish island of Cornisea. What she doesn’t expect is to be witness to a murder with her new boss, Lord Bolingbrook, as the prime suspect. Determined to clear her employer’s name, Guinevere teams up with his son, Oliver, to find the true culprit.

Death Plays a Part is a fun and traditional murder mystery. Guinevere interviews everyone on the island and follows all the clues until she can work out whodunit, how, and why. Conroy’s writing is smooth and enjoyable, with beautiful scenery and endearing characters (special shout out to Guinevere’s dachshund, Dolly). I actually preferred the slick glamour of Conroy’s Lady Alkmene series, but Death Plays a Part is an equally enjoyable, sweet and light read. The laidback atmosphere of a murder in Cornwall is a nice change of pace to the grit and rush of many murder mysteries.

Anyway, who doesn’t love a story with a canine sidekick?

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

Goodreads | Amazon

Everything We Keep – Kerry Lonsdale

29639736Aimee’s fiancé, James, goes missing in a boating accident in Mexico two months before their wedding. In a cruel twist of fate, Aimee finds herself attending James’ funeral on the same day that she should have been walking down the aisle. But when Aimee receives a message suggesting that James isn’t really dead, she begins to uncover a web of secrets that makes her question everything she thought she knew about her life with James. Is he alive? What happened to make him disappear, and why hasn’t he come back? Aimee tries her best to move on with her life, until she eventually heads to Mexico to find out the truth.

Everything We Keep is an interesting mix of mystery and romance. The story behind James’ disappearance is really intriguing and difficult to work out, while the blossoming romance between Aimee and photographer Ian is rather sweet. There were times when I couldn’t tell what direction the story was going in, but it recovered from these weak points successfully. I did find the characters quite bland. Aimee and Ian were both a bit wet and wimpy (although, given the circumstances, that was understandable) and the side characters were a load of nothing, just included to move the story along. The plot was very good though.

Overall, it’s pretty good but never quite gripped me fully.

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

Goodreads | Amazon

Party Girls Die in Pearls – Plum Sykes

34341508It’s 1985 at Christchurch College, Oxford University, when ultra popular Yah-girl India is discovered dead, throat slit, in one of the professor’s rooms. Fresher Ursula lands the opportunity to write about the murder in the university newspaper, and sets out to solve the mystery behind India’s death. With help from fellow fresher, Nancy, and a vast array of eccentric side characters, Ursula digs her way to the bottom of the mystery.

The story is fun. It’s a very detailed murder mystery, but the writing style is quite clunky. It was also a bit too frivolous and frothy for me; I prefer my mysteries to have more grit. Although, there was some quite grizzly detail included about the murder and autopsy. The gruesome aspects being so completely surrounded by froth and glitter was quite confusing. Really, my main negative thought is that the book is too long. For me, it went on a bit and would have been more enjoyable if it was shorter. As it was, I struggled through to the end.

What I did like was the array of amusing characters. There are so many rich, posh and snobby characters, but they were all somehow different and likeable in their own ways. It felt a little like the book was written from the point of view of someone who has never been to public school or Oxford university (I actually don’t know if the author has or not, it’s just the vibe I get), so there are a lot of stereotypical posh characters who are obsessed with glamour and status. Which I found quite narrow-minded but enjoyable all the same.

The mystery aspect was excellent. I did guess (correctly) whodunit pretty early on but not how or why. This didn’t detract at all from the story; it was fun to work out the motives and methods alongside Ursula as the story progressed (and it was nice to find I was right all along).

Final note: although I liked the characters, it frustrated me immensely that no one was able to focus on the fact that their friend had been murdered. A girl turns up dead, and they’re all still obsessed with parties and clothes and dating. Your friend is DEAD and you can only manage to care for 5 minutes at a time.. uh HELLOOOO! What the hell?! But aside from that, good book.

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

Goodreads | Amazon

Halfway Hunted by Terry Maggert (Halfway Witchy #3)

30268328We’re back with Carlie and the gang, keeping Halfway safe from paranormal activity. In the third instalment of the Halfway Witchy series, a century old curse is broken as Exit wakes up from a 100-year sleep and enlists Carlie’s help to find out exactly what happened to him and to locate his wife. In an unpleasant turn of events, Carlie, Gran and Exit wind up tracking down a pair of shape-shifter hunters who are up to no good. Meanwhile, Carlie’s boyfriend, Wulfric, has gone full vampire and it’s up to Carlie to find a way to bring him back. But what if dark blood magic is her only option?

I struggled a little bit when reading the second book in this series, but Halfway Hunted is back to Maggert at his finest. Carlie is as feisty and likeable as ever, while the supporting characters, including the new addition of Exit, are eccentric and fun. This story has better pacing than the last, with less talk and more action, and an intriguing plot. It’s a light and easy read but, while it wouldn’t be necessary to read the previous books, I would definitely recommend it.

Goodreads | Amazon

Standard Deviation – Katherine Heiny

26198476Graham lives a cosy life, with his talkative second wife, Audra, and their son, Matthew. Audra is the complete opposite of Graham’s first wife, Elspeth, and although he loves her very much, their life is full of challenges: Audra’s lack of tact, their constant rotation of house guests, infidelity, and raising a child with Asperger’s. In the middle of managing day-to-day life, Elspeth re-enters Graham’s life and he finds himself questioning his life choices, and those of the people around him.

The main thing to note about this book is that the plot isn’t particularly eventful or exciting. We follow Graham’s day-to-day as he navigates his relationships with Audra, Matthew, Elspeth and everyone else. But by no means does this make the book boring. Standard Deviation is beautifully written, and I was completely sucked in despite there not actually being an awful lot going on.

I really loved the story being from Graham’s point of view. His thoughts are relatable and amusing, which really made the book easy to read. I also loved the other characters – Audra in particular is fabulous and Graham’s devotion to her, despite everything, was really sweet and nice to read. All the supporting characters make their own little impacts, my favourite being the origami club because they are, quite simply, adorable weirdos.

The one and only thing I disliked about this book is that there were a couple of unanswered questions at the end (what was Audra doing at that hotel?) which was annoying but also kinda reflective of real life, so maybe that was intentional.

I was genuinely upset when the book ended. I could have read about Graham and his life forever.

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

Goodreads | Amazon

Thrill! – Jackie Collins

18861584Thrill! tells a story of love, obsession, passion and desire among the Hollywood elite. Beautiful actress Lara could have any man she wants, but what she gets is a passionate affair with a mysterious actor with a shady past. As if navigating this newfound love isn’t enough, Lara also has to cope with her own traumatic past and fend off the unwanted affections of her ex-husband. All the while, a hateful stalker sits in prison planning her revenge.

Jackie Collins is the queen of romantic thrillers. Thrill! is dark, engaging, entertaining and excellently written. In true Jackie Collins style, the plot is raunchy and packed with sex, but it isn’t overly graphic or explicit and is entirely relevant to the story, which makes it completely bearable (enjoyable, even).

But there is so much more to this book than sex and romance. The plot is dramatic and surprisingly complex. There are so many different threads, with each character having their own individual storyline, and yet it is very easy to follow. The characters are well developed with unique personalities and distinctive voices.

Thrill! is exciting and addictive, with shocking twists and an almighty climax. Fans of romance/drama/thrillers, look no further.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Haunting of Barry’s Lodge – Annie Walters

34997487When Alfred’s father-in-law offers him the chance to go on a writing retreat in an isolated motel, he jumps at the opportunity to finish his upcoming book. However, everything at the motel is not as it seems, and soon the complete isolation turns from a blessing to a nightmare.

Honestly, if this book had been longer, I probably wouldn’t have finished it. It has potential: the story is intriguing and has some decent, unexpected twists, but it is hugely underdeveloped and not brilliantly written. There were a number of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors (which I really struggle to overlook in a published book) and the general style is very simple, which made it not particularly engaging. There are also some pretty abrupt changes in narrative angle which made parts of the plot quite difficult to follow. Lastly, there wasn’t enough description or scene-setting, so it isn’t very atmospheric which is very important in horror stories.

Overall, it could have been worse but definitely could have been better. As it is, this is not a very scary horror story.

Goodreads | Amazon

Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give – Ada Calhoun

32051305In a collection of essays, Ada Calhoun combines her own personal experience with the advice of experts and friends to explore the trials of marriage and the key to staying married.

Ada Calhoun’s narrative voice is fantastic. She’s witty and very likeable, and very very real. Her tales of married life are amusing and honest, and her commentary is insightful. Basically, I want to be her friend. Her relationship with Neal sounds great – they seem like an entertaining couple – but she doesn’t hesitate to share that, like everyone else, they too have problems. Looking at cases of infidelity, temptation, changing and fighting, this is a clever and humorous exploration into marriage and an answer to the big question: how do you stay married?

The answer: Don’t get divorced.

Goodreads | Amazon