Kindle Haul #5

Hey everyone, and welcome to the fifth Kindle eBook haul on this blog! I fancied a change of pace after reading a lot of contemporary novels last month, and decided to hunt down some adult crime or thrillers. I got lucky and bought four books, so without further ado, let’s get on with the haul!

The first book I bought was the debut thriller by Michelle Frances – The Girlfriend. I had seen this advertised in my local Waterstones, but it wasn’t until I got home that I spotted it on the Kindle store for an absolute bargain! Advertised as a psychological thriller, it sounded perfect for me. The novel follows Laura, who has everything she wants in life – a successful career, a long marriage to a rich husband and a talented son, Daniel. It isn’t long before Daniel meets the young and beautiful, Cherry. And Cherry has her eyes set on a life like Laura’s. When tragedy strikes, a lie is told – a lie that will change their lives forever… I love this kind of plot so I’m excited to start this. At the time of purchase, this eBook was 99p.

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The next book I decided on was another debut psychological thriller – Friend Request by Laura Marshall. This came on a recommendations email from Amazon, so I thought I would give this a shot. The novel follows Louise who gets a message on Facebook from Maria, someone she believed to be dead. Maria has been missing since her school leavers’ party, and that was over twenty-five years ago. Louise is forced to reconnect with old friends to piece together the truth about Maria’s disappearance… I’m very curious about these types of novels, so I can’t wait to start it. At the time of purchase, this eBook was £1.99.

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The penultimate book I bought was The Foster Child by Jenny Blackhurst. It was the title that grabbed me the most, and then the blurb pulled me further in! The novel follows child psychologist Imogen, who takes on the case of 11 year old, Ellie. Ellie is described as dangerous. She is also the only living survivor of a fire that killed her family. And now, Ellie’s foster parents and teachers are beginning to fear her. Bad things are happening when Ellie is upset. Imogen is getting closer to the little girl, but she may be putting herself in danger… Described as a thriller, full of spooky psychological suspense, I’m very curious. I love reading about children who are maybe seen as ‘evil’, it’s a real hook for me. At the time of purchase, this eBook was 99p.

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And the final book I bought was The Escape by C.L. Taylor. I’ve read a few of C.L. Taylor’s novels before, but I wasn’t over the moon with them. I thought this book would be a fresh start. The novel follows Jo, who gives a stranger a lift home. The stranger know’s all about Jo and her husband, and what’s more, she has a glove belonging to Jo’s two year old daughter. A subtle threat turns into a nightmare as the police, the social services and even Jo’s husband turns against her. No one believes that Jo’s daughter is in danger, but Jo knows she can keep her daughter safe. And she can do that by running… I’m curious to see how the plot will unfold, it sounds like a drama that would be on TV. At the time of purchase, this eBook was 99p.

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So that completes my fifth eBook haul. Let me know what eBooks you have hauled lately, and if you have any recommendations, please feel free to let me know!

– ReadWriteZoe.

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January Wrap Up

Hey everyone, and welcome back to the blog! I hope that you have had a lovely start to the New Year. Whatever resolutions you have set, I hope that you achieve them this year, and if you haven’t already, then don’t worry. 2018 is about achieving your dreams and goals. Put yourself first, especially if you are struggling with your health. Take that time to focus on you.

As it’s the end of the month, I’m returning with my January wrap up! So without further ado, let’s begin and fair warning, there may be spoilers.

The first book I read this month was an eBook – The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh. This is the first book in The Wrath and the Dawn duology. The novel follows Sharhrzad, who volunteers to be the newest bride for Khalid, the King of Kings, the Caliph of Khorasan, much to the shock of her family and friends. Khalid has had a great many wives, each dying with the dawn. Sharhzad is determined to bring this horrifying reign to an end, and also get revenge for the death of her best friend… The series is a retelling of A Thousand and One Nights, a collection of multicultural folk tales, so that already sparked my interest. At first, I found it quite difficult to get into, and so I had to put it aside for a day or so. When I picked it back up, I found it much easier and the story just flowed. The writing style was whimsical, but also straightforward for the YA audience. I liked the use of cultural terms, which rooted the reader in the world. I was drawn in by the mystery surrounding Khalid, and how one woman is able to start tearing down his walls. Sharhzad is a driven young woman, and the supporting characters were very engaging. The cast go through so many different emotions, its hard to keep up. I enjoyed the novel, and I’m curious to see what happens next. I rated this 4 stars.

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The next book I read was a contemporary YA eBook – Entangled by Cat Clarke. The novel follows Grace, who wakes in a white room. Her only entertainment is paper and pens. Grace has no idea how or why she’s there. Who is the strange boy is who brings her meals and clean clothes? Grace starts to write, and so her life begins to return to her – the friendship she has with best friend Sal, the struggles with her mother, the loss of her father, and the love she felt for boyfriend, Nat. This is a novel that touches the soul – it deals with mental health well, although some may see it as glamourising. This was something that the TV show Skins was able to do well too! Grace drinks a lot, is alone with her thoughts, has sex with different boys, and struggles to understand her depression, and so turns to self-harm. It is not cheerful – it is harrowing, but truthful. I cannot thank Cat Clarke enough for writing this – this is something that should be spoken about more, and I found a character outside of fantasy novels that I could connect with on a deep emotional level. I read this not long after its publication, and I had forgotten the plot, so it was refreshing to come back to it with new eyes and thoughts surrounding my own mental health journey. At the back of the novel, there is a list of help and organisations, should others need this. I rated this 5 stars.

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I then read Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu, another contemporary YA eBook. The novel follows Vivian, a teenager growing up in small town Texas. Seen as a dutiful girl, Vivian is angered by the attitudes of the boys and men at her school. Boys would sooner tell girls to make them sandwiches than be supportive. Vivian takes a stand and creates zines and campaigns, taking inspiration from her mother. Soon it isn’t long before the female half of the student body are standing up and taking notice of the daily sexist struggles! I loved this book from start to finish. Vivian was an engaging character, and doesn’t come across as preachy. She comes across as someone who is tired and wants things to change. The language used is easy for the YA market, but I think the plot would appeal to older readers. There are some fantastic use of Vivian’s zines, which add to the overall feel. There were moments when I thought I could guess what was going to happen, and I was wrong. The love interest doesn’t pull too much away from the plot either! My only problem is that the novel does sometimes feel like a 90’s/early 00’s chick flick, but I suppose that isn’t a bad thing. It leaves you feeling supported by other women, and also empowered, which I think was the overall goal. I rated this 5 stars!

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As I was on a contemporary YA kick, I then read the eBook Torn by Cat Clarke. Torn follows sixteen year old Alice King, who goes on a Scottish camping trip with her school. Paired with her best friend, a moody emo, a social outcast and the meanest girl, Alice never expected the trip to end in disaster. This was a gripping tale, with horror/fantastical elements. Alice was an interesting main character, because of how torn she becomes with very important life decisions – to tell the truth, or just to let them pass her by. The novel also deals with how friendships/relationships are formed and lost, something that should resonate with the audience. It also has a focus on how people change, and that you never know who someone really is, or can grow to be. I really enjoyed reading this, and I had forgotten the twists – I hadn’t read this since it’s publication! Alice’s adventures are definitely not in Wonderland… I rated this 5 stars.

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I followed this up with The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This is an incredibly popular YA contemporary book and there’s even going to be a film adaptation soon! I read this on Kindle and I just don’t know why it took me so long to pick it up. The novel follows Starr Carter, a sixteen year old black girl, who is torn between her neighbourhood and the privileged school she attends. And then the unthinkable happens. Her childhood best friend is shot in front of her. Starr is the only person who knows what really happened that night. She can make a difference – but will she? This was without a doubt a 5 star read! Starr was a lovable character, and I enjoyed seeing her interact with her family – it was obvious that they all cared for each other, and can still have fun too. Starr started to become more and more proud of her background. She is a strong character at the start and also develops over the course of the story, which makes her well rounded. Danger is always lurking though, and by the ending, my heart was in my mouth. This covers the topic of race well, and the story-line is reminiscent of news headlines worldwide. Although I am not of an ethnic minority, I honestly feel more educated. I think when the film comes out it will certainly be interesting!

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Carrying on the YA contemporary theme, the next eBook I read was Undone by Cat Clarke. This novel follows Jem and her quest for revenge against the people who outed her best friend, and the love of her life, Kai. Kai was not ready to come out as gay yet, but the online video drives him to commit suicide. Kai leaves behind monthly notes to keep Jem going in an effort to stop her from being morbid, but Jem has plans of her own! I loved this novel – it was a revenge fantasy that I did not know I wanted. I identified with Jem as a character. She was in love with someone she cannot be with, and she begins to change to fit in with those more popular. The group she joins are more human than she originally thought, and slowly, Jem starts to grow as a person. She starts to forget her revenge mission and finds that she can be happy as a new person. Although, things don’t stay that way… The climax is powerful with unexpected results, especially when the big reveal happens. I hadn’t read this since it’s publication, so coming back to it was really good. The ending was bittersweet, and for that reason, I rated it 5 stars.

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Another YA contemporary eBook for you now – and yes, it’s another Cat Clarke novel! I read A Kiss in the Dark, which follows the budding relationship between teenagers Alex and Kate, and the secret that threatens to tear them apart. The writing style confused me at first, until I realised who the voice belonged to and what the secret actually is – it lays it out in the beginning chapters but took a little getting used to, as I thought it was something entirely different. I was expecting a male voice, and then I thought the plot would have a transgender focus, but I was wrong. I rooted for and loved Alex as a character. The narration occurs before the reveal and through the build up of romance. I just wished the book continued with Alex’s narrative. Instead, it changes to Kate, and the after effects. I plain didn’t like Kate as a character – I found her naïve, perhaps too coddled by her mother. I didn’t feel like she was developed well – she was childish and I suppose that was the point. I didn’t warm to her. It didn’t feel right and the plot seems to build to nothingness and it slid to a grinding halt, where the ending is left ambiguous. In the end, taking these points into consideration, I rated this 3 stars.

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The next book I read was Confessions of Georgia Nicolson by Louise Rennison. This is the first four books collected into a hardback omnibus – Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging (1), It’s OK, I’m Wearing Really Big Knickers (2), Knocked Out by my Nunga Nungas (3) and Dancing in my Nuddy Pants (4). The series follows the life and times of teenager Georgia, as she goes to a horrid school, has fun with her Ace Gang, puts up with her annoying family Mutti, Vati and little sister Libby, is attacked by her half Scottish wildcat, and falls in love with a musician/Sex God. I absolutely love the series – it’s one of my favourites of all time. It’s a contemporary comedy YA, very reminiscent of the Adrian Mole series. The writing style is friendly, conversational and Georgia feels like someone you’ve known for years. Yes, sometimes the jokes about poo are immature, but you end up laughing anyway! I feel like after the heaviness of some of the contemporary novels I’ve been reading, I needed a light break. This was the perfect choice. I felt much more relaxed, and I know I can go into the next month of reading much happier.

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I followed this up with the fifth book in the Georgia Nicolson series – And That’s When it Fell Off in my Hand by Louise Rennison. Following on from the previous book, Georgia is pining for her Sex God, who has gone off to New Zealand, leaving her behind. Everyone seems to be pairing up, and her family is just getting more embarrassing – her dad has bought a clown car! Poor Georgia feels like she’s going to be alone forever, but it isn’t long before she sets her eyes on the new singer of The Stiff Dylans – Masimo! And Wet Lindsay is after him too! The novel takes a trip through Georgia’s mind as she learns what its like to miss someone you love, and the lengths you probably shouldn’t go to to catch a boy! The jokes are getting stranger and there’s a great introduction of a dictionary at the back so you can learn to speak Georgia’s language. I really enjoyed this and rated it 5 stars!

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And the final book I read was Then He Ate my Boy Entrancers by Louise Rennison, which is the sixth book in the Georgia Nicolson series. Georgia gets global in this book, as she and best friend Jas, and of course her mad family, go on holiday to Memphis, in America! Of course Masimo isn’t far from her mind, even on holiday, but America is not what she’s used to. Everyone is friendly, and when she returns to the UK its a cold change! And then it happens – the Italian Stallion, Masimo, invites her out to dinner! Of course though, there is heartache and Georgia needs to say want she really wants. Georgia is growing up in this, so it’s a nice change of pace as she begins to mature. There is chaos as soon as the school invites the Foxwood School boys come to help with the play. Naturally, nothing goes right! My stomach ached from laughing, and for that reason, I gave it 5 stars!

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So that completes my eighth wrap up for this blog! Let me know what book/books you have read in the month of January – whether it’s paper/hardback, audio, eBook, graphic novels or manga. They all count! If you have any recommendations, please feel free to let me know!

– ReadWriteZoe.

Kindle Haul #4

Hey everyone, welcome to the fourth Kindle eBook haul on this blog! I was bought a new Kindle for Christmas, so I thought it was time to break it in! I purchased six books, so without further ado, let’s get on with the haul!

The first book I got was A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab. This is the third and final book in the Shades of Magic series, and the magic that has spread across four London’s has reached breaking point. Darkness makes its mark on Red London. Kell, the Antari magician, is torn with competing loyalties. Lila, the thief, has survived in a world so different to her own, but must now control her magic before it damns her. Evil wants a crown, but what will become of the world? I have loved the previous two books, so I can imagine I’m going to have a range of emotions finishing this! At the time of purchase, this eBook was 99p.

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The next book I bought was Red Rising by Pierce Brown, which is the first book in The Red Rising Saga. The novel follows Darrow, who is a Red – humankind’s lowest caste. Darrow toils in the hope that he will make Mars liveable for future generations, and for his wife and children. When he learns that humanity has already reached it, and Red’s are considered little more than slaves, Darrow sets out to bring down his enemies. Fuelled by a longing for justice, and driven by memories of those he has lost, Darrow will do what he can. I’ve heard this mentioned on BookTube, and I’m very intrigued! At the time of purchase, this eBook was 99p.

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I then bought Broken Bones by Angela Marsons. This is the seventh book in the D.I. Kim Stone series, focusing on crime and serial-killers. Each novel is like an episode of a TV show, with self-contained stories. Broken Bones follows Detective Kim Stone as she investigates the murder of a young prostitute, and the case of a baby found abandoned on the same winter night. As three more sex workers are murdered, each death more violent than the last, Kim and her team realise a serial-killer is at work. At the same time, the search is on for the woman who abandoned her baby, bringing the team into a world of modern slavery and human exploitation. I’ve enjoyed every novel in the series and I’m sure this will be no exception. At the time of purchase, this eBook was £1.99.

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I also bought Lost Boy by Christina Henry. The novel follows Captain Hook from the original story of Peter Pan, and how he went from being the first, and favourite, Lost Boy to being Pan’s greatest enemy. I’m very curious about this story, especially as before I learnt about its publication, I had been wanting to write my own Peter Pan retelling. In the past, I disliked Christina Henry’s work on the Alice in Wonderland retellings, so I hope I’m not disappointed with this. At the time of purchase, this eBook was 99p.

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The penultimate book I got was The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls by Emilie Autumn. Emilie Autumn is an actress and theatrical performer – a singer and violinist by trade. After being diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder, The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls was culled from her secret journal that she kept within her time in a mental hospital. The book follows two young women, living centuries apart. Both girls are accused of madness and are able to communicate across time to fight the common enemy – doctors. The book features puzzle illustrations, additional writing and character backgrounds and more content than you could shake a stick at. There are also ways to also connect with Emilie Autumn’s music, such as the song, Fight Like a GirlAt the time of purchase, this eBook was free.

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The final book I got was Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning, which is the first book in the Fever series. I found this on a recommendation through Twitter, if you can believe that! It follows MacKayla Lane, who journeys to Ireland in search of answers to her sister’s murder. MacKayla learns she has a power – a power she didn’t even know she possessed, as she starts to see into the realm of the Fae! I’ve heard good things about this on TheBookLife, and this sounds right up my street! I haven’t read a paranormal book like this in a while, so I’m excited! At the time of purchase, this eBook was 49p.

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So that completes my fourth eBook haul. Let me know what eBooks you have hauled lately, and if you have any recommendations, please feel free to let me know!

– ReadWriteZoe.

2018 Reading Goals

Hey everyone, and welcome to January – I hope that the start of the year has been kind to you! I’ve already starting moving things around in my house, as well as sorting out other bits in my personal life. I’m really nailing these resolutions! On top of that, I’m going to start writing my literature review for uni soon, so I think I’m going to need an endless supply of tea, biscuits and chocolate! I know I can do it though.

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I thought I’d pop in with a little post about last years reading, and my goals for 2018. I track my reading and a TBR list on Goodreads, and there you can also set a challenge of how much you’d like to read in a year.

So let’s look at the stats from last year…

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I set my goal to 100 books, and I managed to complete this. I think it was a little bit of over-kill too, as my final count for the year was 135 books completed! What can I say? I just really like to read!

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The shortest book I read in 2017, according to Goodreads, was Batman: Harley Quinn by Paul Dini. This was a graphic novel, collecting shorts all about Harley Quinn, and it came in at a mere 48 pages. It also has one of my favourite covers for graphic novels too!

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The longest book I read in 2017, according to Goodreads, was A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. This was a fantasy novel, and it is the first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. I started a reread of the series in 2017 as the TV series was starting up again! This came in at 848 pages.

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So this year, I have set my challenge at 100 books again. I think this is doable and I hope to be able to complete this, but I have got a lot on for this year! Back to uni at the end of January and that means more classes, as well as dissertation work. I like a challenge though! I’m also looking forward to finding new books and rereading favourites too.

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And that’s my plan for the year! Are you doing any reading challenges? How many books are you aiming to read? I’d love to know!

– ReadWriteZoe.

December Wrap Up

Hey everyone, and a very Happy New Year to you! I hope that the festive season has treat you well, and that you have made memories to last a lifetime – I know that I have! So much happens during the month of December, including reading!

So without further ado, let’s begin and fair warning, there may be spoilers.

The first book I read this month was the first book in the Women of the Otherworld series – Bitten by Kelley Armstrong. This was a comfort reread, as I spent most of the start of the month struck down with cold and flu. Bitten follows Elena Michaels, the world’s only female werewolf. Tired of the Pack rules, Elena puts it behind her to live in Toronto as a normal human. When her Alpha asks for help following suspicious attacks in their town, she agrees. On the condition that she can return to Toronto. Simple… right? I rated this 5 stars – Elena is a complicated, conflicted individual, with it being clear that she never wanted to be a werewolf. This puts her at odds with the Pack that she has, who clearly care about her. The romance between her and Clay is a constant storm, but works for the plot. The adopted family dynamic works really well, and the world building roots us in reality. The book isn’t just about wolves and romance – it is about finding a family in a turbulent world. I love the series, so I’m excited to continue.

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The second book I read was the second book in the Women of the Otherworld series – Stolen by Kelley Armstrong. This was a reread for me, but I don’t think I’ve read it for several years! The book follows Elena Michaels, the worlds only female werewolf, as she learns that a group are targeting supernatural creatures to study. For a werewolf, Elena is unaware of these other creatures, such as shamans and witches. When she herself is captured, she finds herself in a foreboding research laboratory, although she doesn’t want to stay there long… I rated this 5 stars – I’m a big fan of the research laboratory trope and it’s a harsh unrelenting world, with characters you love to hate. There are so many new creatures entering the world, and I enjoyed meeting them – white witch Paige is going to be a handful! It was a fun read, with the romance between Elena and Clay much more solid than the last book. I also really appreciated the father-daughter relationship between Elena and Jeremy, it was lovely. The novel also shows Elena’s growth as a character, which is always pleasant. I’m looking forward to continuing the series!

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I then read the YA eBook Once We Were by Kat Zhang. This is the second book in The Hybrid Chronicles. Two linked souls, Eva and Addie, have escaped the hospital where their life was in jeopardy. Along with a handful of other hybrids, they are living under the radar, until members of the Resistance decide to put plans into action. And Eva and Addie are not going to be quiet now… I found this quite predictable, and a bit of a cliché read – YA heroes bringing down the government, like so many that are around. Naturally,  there are chapters dedicated to the planning. Eva and Addie although linked in one body, are forming romantic attachments to two different hybrid males. At the same time, they are striving to have more of their independence, but sometimes they come across as selfish. Their hospital trip was six days, small and nonsensical to some of the other hybrid individuals who suffered much worse. I did enjoy the writing style though, and it remains an interesting series. I want to know the final plans, what is happening to the others, the adult characters and their behaviours, because I don’t feel that some are too clear. In the end, I rated this 3 stars.

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I then went for a reread – Dime Store Magic by Kelley Armstrong, which is the third book in the Women of the Otherworld series. The novel follows Paige Winterbourne, a witch, who was introduced in the previous book. Paige has had it rough – she has lost her mother, the Coven do not understand her, and she’s also caring for Savannah Levine, the teenage orphaned daughter of a dark witch. It all comes to a head when a custody battle for Savannah breaks out, and sooner or later, the dark side of the supernatural is making its way to town. Paige will have to use all her powers to make sure that they survive! I rated this 4 stars, because I love Paige as a character. She’s young, headstrong and is always trying her best. Seen as rebellious by the Coven, she ends up in all sorts of situations, like being framed for murder! Savannah was an annoying teenager, which I appreciated, and she started to grow as a character. I also found myself falling for lawyer/sorcerer, Lucas Cortez. I enjoyed the plot, and I was almost in tears at the end. There were moments where I found it predictable, but overall, I did enjoy the story.

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I then reread Industrial Magic, the fourth book in the Women of the Otherworld series, by Kelley Armstrong. Paige Winterbourne and Lucas Cortez are back – with Savannah Levine, of course! Paige is drawn into the world of the Cabals – legitimate business companies run by sorcerers and seen as the mafia of the supernatural world. Someone is killing children of Cabal employees, and it isn’t long before Paige fears that Savannah will be targeted due to her heritage and the company she keeps… I rated this 2 stars, because overall, there were just too many characters. One would be brought in to solve part of the case, then they would disappear, only to have a new character introduced in the same style. I wasn’t fond of this and found it more distracting to the plot. The plot itself seemed a little over-complicated, but I’m starting to think it seemed that way due to all the different character involvement. I almost DNFed this book, but I kept going, because I enjoy the writing style.

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I then read the 20th Anniversary Hufflepuff edition of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone by J. K. Rowling, which is the first book in the Harry Potter series. The series celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, and released hard and paperback copies of the first book in the Hogwarts House colours. I have the hardback edition, but you can see the difference in the picture below. The book also features behind the scenes of your Hogwarts house and snippets of information you might not already know. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m sure you know the plot… Poor Harry Potter is bullied mercilessly and doesn’t feel like he belongs with his horrible aunt, uncle and cousin. So imagine his surprise when a giant of a man turns up and tells him he’s a wizard! And so begins Harry’s journey to becoming a wizard at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry! It’ll be no surprise that I rated this 5 stars – it’s a huge part of my life, my childhood, and it’s something I come back to every year without fail. I connected with Harry with wanting a sense of belonging, and Ron’s humour lightens the dark moments. I love Hermione as a character, because she’s smart, witty and knows there’s more to life than books and cleverness, like friendship. The first book plants the seeds for all the trouble and danger to come, which is a great teaser. Every time I read it, I see something new and it’s like being welcomed home after a long journey away.

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The final book of 2017 I read was an eBook – This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab, the first book in the Monsters of Verity series. Set in a world where violence breeds monsters, the novel follows two characters – human Kate Harker and monster August Flynn. Kate wants to be like her ruthless father, and make others fear her. August wants to be human, but to also be as good natured as his father. Both of these characters were well written – Kate was flawed, and this made her all the more likeable. August’s monstrous abilities were haunting and beautiful all at the same time, and he was instantly likeable. I also liked that there wasn’t a forced romance – or even a romance at all, it made a nice change to the genre. As a first novel, it packs a punch and the world building made a YA fantasy-dystopia so real. It had twists that I hadn’t expected, the writing style was instantly likeable, and I really did love it. I rated it 5 stars, and I can’t wait to continue the series!

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So that completes my seventh wrap up for this blog! Let me know what book/books you have read in the month of December  – whether it’s paper/hardback, audio, eBook, graphic novels or manga. They all count! If you have any recommendations, please feel free to let me know!

– ReadWriteZoe.

Christmas Book Haul

Hey everyone, and welcome back to the blog! I hope that you all had a lovely Christmas, and if you don’t celebrate the holidays, then I hope that however you spent the day, it was with family and friends, having fun.

Today is a quick little post talking about the books I got for Christmas. I love receiving books as gifts, and I also like to buy books when I have the money, which is no surprise at all! I unwrapped a total of four books this Christmas, so without further ado, let’s get on with the festive haul!

The first book I got was the manga Sword Art Online: Mother’s Rosary Vol 3 by Reki Kawahara and Tsubasa Haduki. This is the final book in this arc, and it even tells you that it’s going to be heartbreaking on the back. As I’ve already seen the anime, I know what happens and I know I’m going to cry all over again. Following on from the last two volumes, Asuna is upset at not knowing where her friend Yuuki has gone. She cannot contact her in the video game world, or in reality. When Asuna finds answers to Yuuki’s disappearance, she wishes that she hadn’t investigated her disappearance… Asuna is also struggling with the relationship that she has with her mother, who has very specific ideas about colleges and Asuna’s future. I know that when I get around to reading this, I’m going to need tissues to mop my tears and a bucket of chocolate to soothe my soul!

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The next book I got was another manga – Sword Art Online: Progressive Vol 4 by Reki Kawahara and Kiseki Himura. The Progressive arc focuses on the characters trapped within the original video game world of Aincrad, and goes through different floors in the game. We get to know more about Kirito and Asuna, and also get to meet other characters too. This is going to be an interesting manga and light novel series to read. This is an arc of both the manga and light novels that will continue for a long time, as the characters battle through each dangerous and deadly floor.

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The next book I got was Sword Art Online: Alicization Beginning by Reki Kawahara, which is the ninth book in the Sword Art Online light novel series. This follows character and hero Kirito as he wakes in a forest, with no idea of how he got there. As he searches for answers, he meets a boy who knows all about Kirito, and a friendship deepens. As that friendship grows, Kirito starts to remember his childhood – this unlikely boy, and a girl called Alice, that he should never have forgotten… I’m really curious to start this and find out what is happening to these characters. I’m pretty sure this is going to be the next series in the anime too, which is always exciting!

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The final book I got was Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling, which is the second book in the Harry Potter series. This is the illustrated edition, which I have been after for ages, so I’m very happy! Harry is starting his second year of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but like his first year, things are going to be difficult. There are new spells to learn, deadly evil to be battled and a narcissistic Defence Against the Dark Arts professor to deal with! Harry is going to need his best friends if he’s going to survive the year! The illustrations are beautiful, and I’m so impressed! It looks lovely on my shelf with my other editions – illustrated and paperbacks included.

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And finally, I received a lovely new Kindle! My original keyboard version died in the summer, so I’ve been reading with the iPad and iPhone Kindle apps. I’ve been looking to replace it, and now I don’t have to. It’s amazing to actually have a Kindle again, which makes my reading easier and just as enjoyable as with paper/hardbacks, mangas and comic books! The Kindle I received is small, lightweight, and easy to use – although the touch screen took some figuring out at first. I’ve already linked it to my Amazon account so I have easy access to my eBooks, and believe me, there’s a lot!

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So that completes my Christmas book haul! Let me know what books you got for Christmas, and if you have any recommendations, please feel free to let me know!

– ReadWriteZoe.

All I Want for Christmas Book Tag

Hey everyone, and welcome back to the blog! Today is another day of festive fun before the big day hits, and I’m talking today about the things you want for Christmas, as the title suggests! This tag was created by A Thousand Lives of Daisy on YouTube.

So without further ado, lets do the tag!

What fictional character do you want Santa to leave under your Christmas tree? This was an easy one for me, and I’m going with Rhysand from the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas. I loved him since his entrance in book one. He’s just an enigmatic character, who comes alive on the page, and there’s a lot of depth to him too. And then there’s the wings to consider…

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What character do you want to kiss under the mistletoe? If I’m under the mistletoe this year, I would like to be kissing Qhuinn of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. He’s from the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J. R. Ward, which I’m a big fan of! I just feel for him so much – he cannot be with the one he loves, and has been through so much pain. That one kiss could give him a moment of happiness, and I think he deserves that as much as anyone.

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You write your Christmas list for Santa. What are the top 5 books on it? Okay so this wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be! I’m choosing the second and third books in the Harry Potter series, which are Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling – illustrated editions please! I’d like A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab, which is the third book in the Shades of Magic series. I’d like Lover at Last by J. R. Ward, which is the eleventh book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series (pictured above). And Harley Quinn Vol 6: Black, White and Red All Over by Amanda Connor, Jimmy Palmiotti, Chad Hardin and John Timms!

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It’s Secret Santa at Hogwarts. What do you most want to receive? There are so many magical items, it would be hard to pick just one… I’m going to say though I would LOVE a bundle of Honeydukes chocolates and sweets! I have a sweet tooth, and chocolate is a great gift for anyone!

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You get to spend the day with the characters and movie adaptation actors from one fandom. What do you pick? I’m flexing the rules here and saying TV adaptation actors… I’d love to hang out with the characters and actors from the George R. R. Martin series, A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones. There are so many amazing actors, and I love the fandom so much. The last season gave me waaaaay too many feelings though…

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What fictional animal would you want to replace Rudolph and be able to meet on your roof? I’m going to say a wyvern – they’re just so dangerous and majestic all at the same time! If one got hungry, it could eat the rest of the reindeers, and then just pull the sleigh through the night sky too! Specifically, I’d like to meet Abraxos, Manon Blackbeak’s wyvern, mount and companion from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas!

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You invite 10 fictional characters to your New Years Eve party. Who do you pick? So, first of all, I’d like to invite Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series, because she’s one of my favourite characters of all time! Then Daenerys Targaryen from the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin, because she’s a Queen! I’d like to also invite Asuna Yuuki from the Sword Art Online series by Reki Kawahara, because she’s just so wonderful! And then two characters created by Sarah J. Maas, who are both bad asses – Aelin from the Throne of Glass series, and also Feyre from the series, A Court of Thorns and Roses.

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For the boys, I’d love to invite Remus Lupin from the Harry Potter series, because he’s one of my favourite male characters in the Potterverse – always has been, always will be! Then Kell from the Shades of Magic series by V. E. Scwab, because he’s so interesting and the magical conversations would be amazing, as well! From the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, I’d invite Cassian the Illyrian warrior – he’s strong and loyal to a fault. I’d invite Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, because who knows how to throw a party better than a hobbit? And finally, Jareth from the Return to Labyrinth manga by Jake T. Forbes – Jareth is forever my number one fictional boyfriend!

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What character would make a good Santa? (Doesn’t have to be appearance, personality counts too). I think that a futuristic Santa does already exist in James Donovan Halliday aka Anorak, from Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. He created, founded and was an administrator for the OASIS, which is a massive online simulation used by billions. It is a way for people to escape and experience a better life, and that is a huge gift to give anyone – a shot at happiness.

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So that’s it for the tag, please feel free to let me know your answers! And I’m leaving you for now with a quote from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas by Doctor Seuss… Merry Christmas!

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– ReadWriteZoe.

Books Under the Tree Tag

Hey everyone, and welcome back to the blog! I’ve been so busy with assessments, but now I’m finished for the Christmas and New Year break, so my time is mine again. My shopping is done, my presents are wrapped and the tree is shining bright with twinkling white lights.

So what a perfect time to start a festive week of blogging fun! Today I am doing the Books Under the Tree Tag, which I’ve tweaked a little for this blog. This tag was created by Game of Tomes on YouTube.

So without further ado, lets do the tag!

What book would you like to find under the tree this year? I’m keeping my fingers crossed that underneath my tree, I’m going to find the illustrated version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling, which is the second book in the Harry Potter series. I got the first illustrated book in September, and I’m looking forward to collecting them all. I’m a huge Potter fan as you all know, and I’ve been very impressed with the illustrations that I’ve seen so far.

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What is the best book you have ever received for Christmas? For this, I’m going with a first edition of The Goblins of the Labyrinth by Brian Froud and Terry Jones. It is a lovely book, with gorgeous illustrations and so many details about the different types of goblins from the classic film. My parents bought me this a few years ago, and I almost cried when I opened it. It’s a beautiful, if battered, original copy from the 80’s, and it means so much to me.

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What book gives you all the Christmas feels? For this, I’ve chosen a short story, and that is Red-Nosed Reindeer by Reki Kawahara. It is part of the Sword Art Online 2: Aincrad light novel collection, and focuses on the time our male hero Kirito, spent with Moonlit Black Cats spear wielder, Sachi. It’s a Christmas themed story, and although it is heartbreaking, it is a beautiful tale of friendship, and that people should always try to achieve happiness. Also, watching the anime adaptation made me so emotional…

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What book do you plan on reading to put you in the Christmas spirit this year? I read a lot of different books all year round, so there’s no specific book that would put me into the Christmas spirit. I am definitely thinking of rereading Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone by J.K. Rowling though – that first time Harry experiences a proper Christmas with friends is just so touching.

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What book have you read this year that you would like to throw out with the Christmas tree after the holidays? I have an artificial tree, so I’m not throwing that bad boy out! He’s good for another year! I think the book I’d like to throw out is Haunted on Bourbon Street by Deanna Chase, which is the first book in the Jade Calhoun series. I wrote about this in a wrap up this year and I just didn’t enjoy it – it was a predictable plot, with boring characters that I felt like I’d met before, and I didn’t really like the writing style either. Overall, I didn’t enjoy it.

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What is a book from this year that you would like to place under a friend’s tree? For my best friend, I think I would like to put The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories by Tim Burton under her tree. Its a short, creepy read, full of strange stories from the mind of Tim Burton. He creates the weird and wonderful, so it’s perfect for a busy, creative, weird friend like mine!

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So that’s it for the tag, please feel free to let me know your answers!

Today’s festive question – what’s the topper on your tree? On top of mine is a golden, glittery angel!

– ReadWriteZoe.

November Wrap Up

Hey everyone, and welcome back to the blog! It’s been another month of whirlwind exams, assessments and dissertation readings. And that’s on top of two birthdays as well! Bonfire Night came and went with many flashes and bangs – just like the reading in this wrap up!

So without further ado, let’s begin and fair warning, there may be spoilers.

I read the second ebook in the Shades of Magic series – A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab. Picking up after the events of the first novel, Antari magician Kell is struggling to continue with his life after many magical events. On the other side of the coin, Delilah Bard is sailing the the high seas, trying to master hidden powers. The pair are thrown together once again as Red London celebrates an international magical competition – The Element Games. Magic is perilous and evil is already growing. This was a great continuation of the series, and the characters are always keeping readers on their toes. We are starting to learn more about the world, but I just wanted a little bit more of The Games. I understand why it didn’t have more though! In the end, I gave it 4 stars, and I’m eagerly anticipating the next book!

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Next is a standalone eBook: Asking For It by Louise O’Neill. This was a reread for me, but I hadn’t read this since its release. While ground in YA realism, this book appeals to YA readers and adults alike. The novel follows Emma, 18, beautiful, and confident. Everyone loves her, and thinks she could model. And then her world is turned upside down. After a party, she wakes up on the front porch of her home, whilst horrific photographs of the evening before circulate. Just as horrific is the disbelief of the towns people as they cling to their beloved football heroes. I could not put this book down – it was devastating and heartbreaking, but oh so real. The characters are progressive, and I found I liked to hate some. It is reflective of the world we live in, especially with so many speaking out on #MeToo. It’s a brave tale of hope and courage, whilst facing terrifying realities. And the reality is, women are not asking for it. I rated this 5 stars, and I eagerly await the next release from this author!

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Next is Lover Avenged by J. R. Ward, the seventh book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. This follows Rehvenge, a notorious club owner and drug lord, with secrets that he keeps close to his chest. One evening, during a hospital visit, he meets Ehlena. Ehlena’s family is struggling to survive after leaving the aristocracy. Rehvenge and Ehlena come together in a way that neither of them expected, and secrets are about to be told. I rated this 3 stars, simply because there were so many plots entwining that it was hard to keep track of who belonged where, and what certain characters felt. It distracted the reader from Rehvenge and Ehlena’s romance, which I felt could have been explored in more detail.

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I then read Lover Mine, the eighth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, by J. R. Ward. Picking up after the events of the last book, this novel follows troubled, mute warrior John Matthew. His past routinely crops up and now his future is shaken. The love of his life, sympath Xhex, is kidnapped and he will do anything to get her back… I rated this 5 stars – John Matthew is a great character and Xhex is so dangerous. I’ve loved the pairing from day one, although I love the teasing and promises of more to come from characters, Qhuinn and Blaylock. The lesser battles are ramped up, as are the romantic scenes. And we get some glimpses of future character, Payne!

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I followed this up with Lover Unleashed by J. R. Ward. This is the ninth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, picking up after the events of the last book. In this, we follow Payne, the twin sister to Vishous, a member of the Brotherhood. Kept hidden for centuries by her godly mother, Payne has longed to be set free. In becoming free though, she comes into contact with human surgeon, Manuel Manello, who knows he cannot leave her until he has treated her. And then he realises he cannot leave her at all… I rated this 3 stars. I felt the romance was poor, and should have had more interaction between the two lead characters. Instead, we revisit Vishous, and are taken on a Caldwell police case – that is linked to a new threat: the Band of Bastards, lead by big bad, Xcor. The side stories all interlink, but it just wasn’t as good as the previous tales.

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Finally, we come to the last book in the wrap up – Lover Reborn by J. R. Ward. This is the tenth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, and it was a real heartbreaker. Tohr is in turmoil over the loss of his wife and unborn child. The only thing he lives for is battle, and being on the edge. No’One has a troubled past, has nothing and is trying to build bridges with her daughter. When the pair are brought together over the seasons by an unlikely angel, hearts and minds will twist and turn. I rated this 5 stars – the build up of romance was lovely and there were points when I had to put the book down because I cried. There are side-plots which connect with other characters from the Brotherhood and the Band of Bastards, but I don’t want to say too much. I’m addicted to the series, and the next book is on my to-buy list!

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So that completes my sixth wrap up for this blog! Let me know what book/books you have read in the month of November  – whether it’s paper/hardback, audio, eBook, graphic novels or manga. They all count! If you have any recommendations, please feel free to let me know!

– ReadWriteZoe.

November Update

Hey everyone, welcome back to the blog! I realise I haven’t checked in with you all since my October Wrap Up, so I thought I would do this little chatty update, to let you know where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing… Which isn’t much now that I think about it.

I’ve been really struggling with my mental health. I’ve been binge watching TV shows that I’ve seen before to see if it helps. One that’s really been cheering me up is Netflix’s, Big Mouth. My best friend introduced me to it. It’s an animated show about kids going through puberty, dealing with emotions and hormones. It’s a great show – funny, crude and honest. I’d recommend it – and if you don’t watch it for the story-lines, watch it for the Hormone Monster and Monstress!

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I’ve been in an awful reading slump, but you’ll be pleased to hear that there will still be a Wrap Up at the end of the month – I’ve read at least one book! I’ll leave you guessing which book it was… Speaking of, I’ve finally managed to get my collection reorganised on my bookshelves. It’s only taken me a month after moving! Now I just need to add my little knick knacks!

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University work has completely taken over my life and that’s what I’ve been focused on. I’ve been revising for an exam and then obviously taking it. I’ll hopefully get my result soon! I’ve also been writing essays and reports for other classes. I’ve also been looking over reading and other sections for my dissertation, which is starting to look scary the closer we get to Christmas… This sloth has been me on more than one occasion, mainly in Statistics!

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Mentally, I’ve been drained with university work, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear my classmates say the same. I’ve been working hard, but it’s leaving me feeling burnt out and tired. So I’ve definitely been taking time for me. I’ve basically turned into the Hormone Monstress…

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So, how is your November going? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you!

– ReadWriteZoe.