Saturday, 26 December 2015

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year From Nerdish Mum

It's that time of year when people look back over the year and come up with their top ten lists etc, but this year I haven't done that, but I still wanted to make sure that I said thank you to everyone who has followed an interacted with me throughout the year. I wrote my first ever blog post on the 1st of January 2015 and its been quite a journey from then until now. I've learnt a lot about myself and discovered some really good friends along the way.

I'm not making any new years resolutions per say, but I will be becoming a lot more structured in my blogging to ensure that I give out more frequent but still quality posts. Obviously my main content will still be books but there will also be posts about any conventions I go to, updates on my penpal activity and maybe even ocassionally any geeky crafts I may get up to. I am always open to any suggestions of what you would like me to blog about, maybe read a book you suggest to see what I think or if you have questions about my reading or penpalling I could always do a Q and A. I have a lot of fun and interesting (I hope) ideas going forward and I'm really looking forward to bringing them to you, I also have something really exciting coming in the first week of January so keep your eyes open!

I don't want this to be too long so I wish you all a very happy holiday period and I hope you have a fabulous new year and I look forward to seeing you all throughout 2016 :)

Don't forget to say hi in the comments and let me know if you are making any new years resolutions!

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Escape To Gettis...And Love - Gerri Bowen

I was lucky enough to receive an e-book copy of Escape To Gettis...And Love direct from the author Gerri Bowen in exchange for an honest review.

I haven't read many historical fiction books, though I'm not entirely sure what genre of book this is, I'd possibly categorize it as contemporary historical fiction. Though that may sound odd, it works out really well and I really enjoyed it. The reason I'd say this description is because instead of a modern woman going back in time somewhere, there is a historical man (and others) that come to the modern time. I have to say that I think this was a lot more interesting for me than the other way around.

I don't really want to go into too much detail about the actual story as a) I don't want to give any spoilers and b) I feel you should read it yourself and discover what happens as it happens. I will say however that there were two characters who were particularly interesting, Koozie and Dromo, who apparently appear in another book called Love's Blood (but you do not need to read that first to read this) and I think that I will have to pick that up too just to read more about them because of just how amazing they are.

The absolute number one thing I love about this book is that the main character is an older woman who is a bit of a badass but can cook too. She is also a mother and grandmother which I don't think I've ever come across before. She's a young grandmother, but a grandmother all the same. I also love the sense of family throughout the book, it's so nice to see such a close knit family and group of friends that will literally do anything for each other,

There is such a mix of things that goes on in this book that you would think that it may be just too much and everything may just get lost, but the way Gerri Bowen has written it all, it just works so well and flows beautifully. I am glad though that there is a glossary of the creatures and beings that pop up in the book as there are some that I had never heard of at all before, so it was good to get a description.

The only thing I would say that I struggled with, was that there were so many characters that at times, I wasn't 100% who was who meaning I had to flick back just to confirm who certain people were, All the characters were brilliant and had their own personality but there were just so many of them it was hard to keep track.

Ooh I will also just mention quickly that at the beginning of each chapter there is a little intro that gives hints about what will happen in the chapter, I thought this was really nice and I enjoyed finding out what it meant as I read through.

I started this book on the 11th of December 2015 and I finished it on the 17th of December 2015.
I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn (Contains spoilers)

I finally got around to picking up one of this years biggest reads and I've been amazingly good and managed to miss any and all spoilers about Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I tend not to read a hugely hyped books as soon as they come out (unless it is something I've been waiting for) and I read them when the hubbub has died down and then I can make my own decision about it without being influenced by other peoples excitement.

Things started off well when I saw that it was written in dual diary entry format as I like that style of writing as I feel like it reads quickly and I always just want to read that next bit to see what the other person thought. Sadly from then on out it's all down hill from there.

None of the characters, main or side are nice people in any way. I can't remember a single good person throughout the whole book. This lead me to really not caring one way or another about anyone and I barely remember anyones name as they really didn't matter to me. Both the main characters, Amy and Nick are both just awful people. Neither of them have any notable redeemable features and I really just hated them right from the start of the book.

The story itself is kind of beyond belief and though I've not seen a single spoiler about the book, I still had guessed what had happened I think from chapter two, it was really that obvious. The more I read the more I kept saying to myself "REALLY?" but I kept thinking that maybe it would get better, so may people seem to love this book, maybe I just haven't got to it yet, Let me say, it did not get better it just got more and more ridiculous.

There will be some spoilers in this paragraph so if you don't know anything and don't want to spoil yourself, skip to the next paragraph. The ending really just finished me off for this book, it is so unbelievable I just wanted to launch the book across the room (but I'm nice to books so I didn't do that). There is no comeuppance for all the bad stuff, wasting police time, murder, defamation of character etc. which really left a bad taste in my mouth and then the fact that Nick would give up everything to be with such a.....I have no word that I would type to describe Amy....and to knowingly put a child through that kind of life. Fair enough if he was planning to stay till the child was born and then take them away from her, but to actually knowingly stay with that kind of person and subject your child to it is not something a loving parent would do.

The one thing I will not take away from this book is that it is really well written and it was easy to read. That is the only reason I have given the book two stars instead of one, Sadly I do not understand the hype and it's not one I will be recommending to anyone any time soon.

I started this book on the 26th of October 2015 and finished it on the 30th of October 2015.
I gave this book 2 stars on Goodreads.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

The Girl With The Blue Umbrella - Heather Awad

I was extremely lucky to receive an e-book copy of The Girl With The Blue Umbrella directly from the author/poet Heather Awad in exchange for an honest review.

It has been a long time since I picked up a poetry book, I don't read it very often but when I do, I usually enjoy it thoroughly. The style I'm used to is definitely the classic format that rhymes and/or uses the iambic pentameter, the kind of stuff you read in school for your English class. This collection of poetry is an extremely fresh and modern way of writing poetry and it works beautifully. I will own up to the fact it took me a couple of reads at first to get the "rhythm" of each poem, but that is due to my lack of experience in reading modern poetry rather than the way it is written. The poems are all exceptionally well written and they all tell a story which I loved.

Out of the 62 poems, there were a few that stood out to me and are ones that I will come back to time and time again to read and remind myself of certain feelings or thoughts. The poem "When I'm Bored" I really identified with the people watching and making up stories about them, as I said in my review of The Haunting Of Hill House I really identified with Eleanor because she made stories up about things as she was driving and I felt the same thing again while reading this poem.

"At The Parade" really captures the festivity of a parade, but my absolute favourite line is "...she knows I'm taking pictures, saving memories" This feels like it was written about me, I love to photograph pretty much everything and I feel it's my way of making sure we don't forget things that have happened or that we have seen, so describing it as saving memories is just perfect.

"Too Much Noise" is just perfect, I'm going to save it at that page and every time someone asks why I like to sit in silence I'm just going to show it to them and let Heather explain far more eloquently than I ever could. I think out of the whole collection this is my favourite poem as it speaks to me on a personal level.

"Blue Angels" is fantastically well written and descriptive, so much so you feel as if you are they lying on the sands too and watching all the things going on and enjoying the experience. This poem is really upbeat and you can almost feel the heat of summer while reading it.

The last poem I want to specifically mention by title, is "Skipping Class" It is heartbreaking and it feels so very personal and the emotions are so raw you feel voyeuristic while reading this, looking in from the outside on someone's pain and wishing that you could do something about it.

Overall I really enjoyed this collection and as I said, there are poems that I will come back to over time to read again. As in all collections though there are some poems that I liked less than others, not that I didn't like them, as they were all written so well and the subjects were all ones that people can relate to in one way or the other, but that I just preferred the others.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone with a passing interest in poetry, especially if you'd always wanted to try reading poetry but maybe weren't sure where to start or you just wanted more contemporary topics to read about.

I read and completed this on the 24th of November 2015.
I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads.

Monday, 30 November 2015

November 2015 Book Round Up

November has been a very funny month for me and reading. Everything seems to have taken me ages to get through and I've just had no motivation at all. As you can tell from my list most of what I've read has been very short too. This isn't to say that I haven't enjoyed what I have managed to read, in particular I'll give a mention to Yonder (A Southern Haunting #1) by LeeAnne Hansen as I'm still thinking about it now and I can't wait for the next book. I've also been behind on my reviews and blogs but I'm hoping to catch up on them all in the next few days.

The books I read in November are as follows, though I am also still working my way through War and Peace (slowly, though far quicker now I have a buddy!) and Showcase: World's Finest which I will hopefully finish in the next couple of days.
Book 1 - Seriously Mum, Where's That Donkey? The Photos! by Alan Parks - 3 Stars
Book 2 - Yonder (A Southern Haunting #1) by LeeAnne Hansen - 5 Stars
Book 3 - Chef Maurice and a Spot of Truffle by J.A. Lang - 4 Stars
Book 4 - Yogscast: The Diggy Diggy Book by the Yogscast - 5 Stars
Book 5 - Death of a Dapper Snowman by Angela Pepper - 5 Stars
Book 6 - Death Comes eCalling by Leslie O'Kane - 4 Stars
Book 7 - The Girl With The Blue Umbrella by Heather Awad - 4 Stars

Now onto the future, I have actually been planning blogs that I want to do and having ideas that I'm excited about sharing! I am going to try and be a lot more organised about when I blog so it is more regular and I may even try some sort of loose schedule, but we'll see how that goes. One thing that you can look forward to, is once I've finished cataloguing and organising my book shelves I will be letting you take a peek at them, possibly even in video form!

That's all from me this month, I hope to bring you a far bigger round up at the end of December. If you don't already you can follow me @NerdishMum on Twitter so you can tell me what you're currently reading or if you've read any of the books that I've read this month.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Yonder (A Southern Haunting #1) - LeeAnne Hansen

I was lucky enough to receive an e-book copy of Yonder (A Southern Haunting #1) direct from the author LeeAnne Hansen in exchange for an honest review.

Before I get into my review proper, I would just like to say that I think I have found one of my favourite quotes ever, on page 45 the main character Isabel says "There's nothing like the smell of old books. They smell like memories" This is just such a true statement, I think I'm actually going to make myself a bookmark with this on it.

The book is set in the 40's and is about Isabel who is called home from New York due to the death of her father and then becomes intertwined in amorous advances from two of her brothers childhood friends, Benjamin and Charles. All the while she is haunted by a young boy, but why?

The book is rich in details about the time period from the war to the coming out balls. You get the feeling of it being a simpler time right on the cusp of change. It all sets the tone nicely for the story about Isabel.

I really liked Isabel, she's a strong female character who for the most part knows what she wants. She does frustrate me at points with how young she seems, but if you look at the kind of childhood she had and how women were seen in this time, it does make sense. Charles is just awful and pompous and I didn't like him right from the beginning! He is just far too smarmy for my taste, Benjamin however seems to be a southern gentleman who makes the occasional goof. I really liked Benjamin and as you can imagine I was rooting for him throughout the story. The romance is done really well and it didn't feel tacky which is the reason I very rarely read romance books, the romance in Yonder felt real to me. I also have to point out that the love scene is beautifully done, very sensual and I didn't feel embarrassed reading it.

The haunting starts off subtle almost and then it becomes more intense and blatant as time passes. I loved how you could be enjoying a nice simple scene and then all of a sudden the child - Eli, appears and something happens. Isabel is the only one who can see him and she needs to figure out what he wants or what she can do to help him. When you find out who he is (I'm not saying as I don't want to give any spoilers because you need to go read this yourself!) and his story, my heart broke. It was so well written and so well thought out, it takes you by surprise and rips your heart out at the same time.

My only "complaints" - are slightly spoilery but nothing too much, stop reading now though if you want to know nothing and start again on the next paragraph - are that I wanted to find out what Charles and Isabel's fathers had done to Samantha (I can guess to a point but would like to know the details) and I wanted to know the reason that Isabel's father had disowned her brother Doug. I really would like to know the answers to these questions, but I may get lucky and they get answered in the next book.

I thoroughly loved this and I am looking forward to the second book already. If you haven't read this yet, you need to go and try it. Thank you to LeeAnne for allowing me the pleasure of reading her book.

I started reading Yonder on the 31st of October 2015 and finished it on the 9th of November 2015
I gave Yonder 5 stars on Goodreads

Thursday, 12 November 2015

October 2015 Book Round Up

Ooof I am so behind! I've been very busy, I've been on holiday and I've also been busy reading a book for an author before being sent to the publisher which has been an interesting but time consuming experience. It feels like I didn't read much in October but I definitely read some interesting books.

Book 1 - Batgirl/Robin: Year One by Chuck Dixon - 5 Stars
Book 2 - Black Butler, Vol. 9 by Yana Toboso - 5 Stars
Book 3 - Death Note: Black Edition, Vol. 1 by Tsugumi Ohba - 5 Stars
Book 4 - The Tales of Beedle The Bard by J.K. Rowling - 3 Stars
Book 5 - Half Lies by Sally Green - 4 Stars
Book 6 - Cyclops, Vol. 1: Starstruck by Greg Rucka - 5 Stars
Book 7 - Infinite Crisis: Fight For The Multiverse by Dan Abnett - 4 Stars
Book 8 - A Death In The Family: A Detective Kubu Mystery by Michael Stanley - 4.5 Stars
Book 9 - Black Butler, Vol. 10 by Yana Toboso - 5 Stars
Book 10 - Black Butler, Vol 11 by Yana Tobos - 5 Stars
Book 11 - Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - 2 Stars

I'm hoping to be back blogging regularly from this week onwards and I have two reviews in the process and coming out in the next couple of days. I may also blog about the decision I have made about War and Peace so keep a look out for that.

What is everyone else reading at the moment?

Sunday, 25 October 2015

My Review of A Death In The Family

I received an advance e-book copy of A Death in the Family by Michael Stanley directly from the author in exchange for an honest review.

A Death in the Family is the fifth outing for Detective Kubu and is written by Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip (known together as Michael Stanley). I always find it mind boggling when more than one person has written a book as to how they can get on and make their ideas work together and yet these two are on their fifth book.

 I've never read a Kubu book before but the synopsis sounded great and was exactly what I was in the mood for reading, When the weather turns cooler and autumn arrives, I love a good crime book. This book centres around the murder of Kubu's father and murders related to a mine expansion in a small town called Shoshong. We follow Kubu as he deals with the grief of losing his father and trying to keep away from that investigation (and failing) while trying to concentrate on the murder of an official and the troubles in Shoshong,

The story was really well written and full of twists and turns which worked perfectly without feeling shoehorned or pasted together. The characters are all really well formed and I really loved Kubu, he felt very real and you felt his emotions with him. His relationship with his family and his mother is portrayed beautifully as well and it was nice to see a strong family that loved each other and got on with each other, Seeing a detective with a wife and family that was together was really good to see for a change, I think my favourite character however is Jacob Mabaku, the Director of the Botswana CID. He is exactly the kind of boss you want, someone who respects you but is willing to put you in your place when it's needed. He came across as a really nice man but a complete badass,

Before reading this my knowledge of Botswana was a complete zero. Throughout the book I learnt so much about the country and about its culture, and it incredibly interesting. I felt that all the cultural references and explanations fit smoothly into a crime novel and it really gave a sense of the country the book is set in. I also think the fact the Kubu in Setswana (one of the languages spoken in Botswana) means hippopotamus is fantastic, it fits the character so perfectly, I definitely want to look into finding out more about this part of Africa in the future.

My only niggle about the book is that the bad guy felt a little stereotypical or cardboard cutout - actually I think I might go with panto villain, I wanted to scream "he's behind you" a few times. But really this doesn't take away from how well the rest of the book is written and how well thought out and plotted the storyline is.

Overall a really interesting and enjoyable read that I would recommend to anyone even if like me you haven't read a Detective Kubu book before, you can very easily just jump in on this book. I personally will also be seeking out the earlier books to read in the future.

A Death in the Family is out on October 27th 2015.

I started this book on the 11th of October and finished it on the 19th of October 2015
I gave this book 4.5 Stars on Goodreads

Saturday, 24 October 2015

It's a kind of magic - My review of The Tales of Beedle the Bard

The last book I read before making my decision about giving up my 2015 Reading Challenge was for the Popsugar reading challenge for the "a book with magic" topic and the book I had chosen was The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling. I chose this book as though I have read all the Harry Potter books I had never got around to reading this and thought that this would be the perfect opportunity.

I'll own up to the fact I generally dislike reading introductions to books and for the most part I skip them or just skim read for the important information, but as this book was so short I figured I would read the whole thing, I'm glad I did as I really enjoyed the explanation of the similarities and differences between muggle and magical fairy tales.

I enjoyed each tale for its own merits and I liked the fact that they were similar to Grimm's fairy tales as I re read the whole collection in the past year. I think my favourite was either the The Warlock's Hairy Heart for its Edgar Allen Poe feel to it or The Fountain of Fair Fortune for the moral it tells.

Personally I don't feel the notes from Dumbledor add anything to the tales at all and I could have done without these and had another couple of tales instead. I did however like the likeness that Beedle the Bard is supposed to be a magical Brothers Grimm writer, whereas Beatrix Bloxam is the magical Disney retelling stories without any of the darkness and filling them with sweetness and light,

Overall this is a very nice book and it was all for charity so definitely a worthwhile read, but for me it was just very average and didn't capture the same of magic that we all know and love in the Harry Potter series.

I started reading this book on the 10th of October 2015 and finished it on the 11th October 2015
I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads

Sunday, 18 October 2015

An Update on my 2015 Reading Challenge

At the beginning of the year I decided that I was going to participate in both the Book Riot Read Harder challenge and the PopSugar Ultimate Reading challenge as I believed that it would widen my horizons and book choices. I made a list of all the books I wanted to read to accomplish this and spent time considering what would be the best choices for me.

I was really excited by the whole thing and at the start I flew through quite a few of the books on my list, but as I got further into the year, I just wasn't in the mood to read the choices of books that I had made so I changed up some of my original choices with books that I did want to read but that still fit the challenge criteria. As more time went on the books I wanted to read no longer fit under any of the criteria to fit on my challenge list and I started to begrudge reading any of them, even though I do want to read them all, just not at this point in time. Because of this I went into a reading slump for a couple of months which was tough to get through.

So I've made a decision, I'm not going to be completing my 2015 Reading Challenge that I set for myself, I have hit my target of how many books I wanted to read this year (100) and I have thoroughly enjoyed, for the most part, the books I have read. I'm doing this so that I can carry on enjoying my reading experience which is the most important thing to me. I have found that this sort of challenge just doesn't work for me as I found it very restrictive, which is the complete opposite of the reason I was doing it in the first place. This is also the reason that I don't set monthly tbr lists as I never know what genre I'm going to be in the mood for. I do still think that it's a great way for people to expand their reading experience it is just not for me.

If I do read any books that fit in before the end of the year, I'll definitely still blog about them and update my list, but if not, I really don't mind. If you'd like to see how I did, click here for my original 2015 Reading Challenge post.

Have you ever participated in a reading challenge? How did you find it?

Thursday, 1 October 2015

My Review of Sigmund Shaw: A Steampunk Adventure

I received an e-copy of Sigmund Shaw: A Steampunk Adventure directly from the author Mark C. King in return for an honest review. Thank you Mark.

I have never read a steampunk book before, but I have always wanted to delve into that world and see what all the fuss is about. I love the Victorian time period and I'm intrigued by the machinery and fashion relating to steampunk so I thought it would be a good fit of genre for me. Sigmund Shaw I feel was a perfect book for me to read first!

I want to start off by saying just how much I absolutely adore the character of Sigmund, he is just such a nice guy and its so nice to see. Yes he has faults and he has done things that aren't right, but he has done them for the right reasons and in ways to cause as little hurt to people as possible. He is a good brother, uncle, brother in law and friend. Sigmund will put the people he loves first at all times he is just so selfless and he'll do whatever needs doing to get the job done. I feel he has been written so well that I have become really attached to him while reading his story.

I do also like a lot (if not all) of the other characters, Sarah is a badass, Harry is a sweetheart and I love Holmes and the fact he is annoyed by his name (nice touch!). I feel they are all well thought out and written beautifully so that they all stand out with their own personality and are not just 2 dimensional.

The story is fantastic from the start and I was gripped from page 1. Sigmund is asked to do something that will possibly help his niece walk for the first time and what follows is a story of adventure, mystery, murder and war. The writing is fast paced but you never lose what is happening and everything is shown and not told. I didn't see the end coming till not long before Sigmund and his crew figured it out themselves, so King kept me guessing for a long time and I followed the twists and turns at the same time as the characters.

The machines that are brought out towards the end of the book are amazingly described and I could picture perfectly these mammoth war and flying machines. I actually also preferred reading the battles using this kind of weaponry than your typical gun, tank etc. In some books that have war scenes I tend to skip over the fighting as it can sometimes be confusing and sometimes it can be boring, but the fights in this book didn't fall into either category.

I only really have one ever so small criticism of this book and that is when Sigmund and his crew have figured things out, they go to tell someone of importance (I'm being vague to avoid spoilers) and then they explain in full everything that has transpired up until that point. I remembered and had understood already everything that they then explained and I feel it could have been left at the characters explained while the important person listened in disbelief or some such before asking questions. But that is just my opinion and it didn't take away any of my enjoyment of the story.

Overall a fantastic book and I feel lucky to have been asked to read this. I recommend that you read this book even if you're not a steampunk fan but you enjoy a good mystery and crime drama. I look forward to reading more both from this author and from the genre in the future.

And one last thing I started reading this book on the 30th of July and finished reading it on the 19th of September. The only reason it took this long was due to the fact it was an e-book, I only have my Nook at the side of my bed and I don't use it every night. Had I had my hands on a paper book I would have read this in one or two sittings at the most because I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads

September 2015 Book Round Up

As soon as there was a chill in the air I immediately wanted to start reading crime thrillers and psychological mysteries etc, so my YA and fantasy were put to one side so I could indulge in what I class as my guilty pleasure (though you should never feel guilty about what you read). I haven't got much reading done this month as the Nerdish family has been very busy but I've managed to sneak in quite a few graphic novels/trade paper backs and I finally read the first Sword Art Online book which the hubby has been wanting me to read. I haven't changed the format of my round up this month, but look forward to seeing something different at the end of October!

Book 1 - You by Caroline Kepnes - 3 Stars
Book 2 - Black Butler, Vol 6 by Yana Toboso - 5 Stars
Book 3 - Batgirl, Volume 2: The Flood by Bryan Q. Miller - 4 Stars
Book 4 - Remember Me This Way by Sabine Durrant - 5 Stars
Book 5 - Sword Art Online: Aincrad, Vol. 1 by Reki Kawahara - 5 Stars
Book 6 - Iron Fist: The Living Weapon, Vol. 1: Rage by Kaare Andrews - 2 Stars
Book 7 - Sigmund Shaw:  A Steampunk Adventure by Mark C. King - 4.5 Stars
Book 8 - Action Comics, Vol 1: Superman and the Men of Steel by Grant Morrison - 3 Stars
Book 9 - Siege by Brian Michael Bendis - 4 Stars
Book 10 - Winter Soldier, Vol. 1: The Longest Winter by Ed Brubaker - 5 Stars
Book 11 - Black Butler, Vol 7 by Yana Toboso - 5 Stars
Book 12 - Black Butler, Vol 8 by Yana Toboso - 4 Stars
Book 13 - The Winter Soldier, Vol. 1: The Longest Winter by Ed Brubaker - 5 Stars

What books have you been reading in September? Do you have a TBR for October? Let me know, I'm always happy to talk books.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Blackpool Comic Con 2015

Saturday the 12th of September 2015 marked the first ever Blackpool Comic Con. Myself and my little nerdish family had been looking forward to it for months and our friend that comes with us to Cons had even got his first ever cosplay together.

Waking up early on that morning to get ready, we were slightly disappointed to see that it was pouring with rain so we had to make the decision not to put the nerdlings in their cosplay outfits (Wonder Woman and the Flash) as we didn't want them to get cold and wet. My hubby however still donned his Arrow cosplay and our friend his Sebastian (Black Butler) waistcoat and tails. I have yet to cosplay as I spend that much time making sure everyone else is sorted I don't have time to sort my own, however I did an everyday cosplay and wore red and black with my Deadpool necklace.

When we arrived we found parking easily just around the corner from the Winter Gardens and walked round to the "front" of the place, we were surprised to see just a handful of people waiting outside the doors. We waited here for a few minutes before someone walking past advised that the queue was actually at the side, so we wandered round and found that the queue was actually the length of the entire outside of the building! By this time we were extremely lucky and the rain had eased off so we didn't end up getting wet. When we go to cons part of our enjoyment comes from queueing and seeing all the people in cosplay and all the effort that these people have put into their costume. In fact a lot of our pictures end up being from the queue.

Once the doors opened, the queue moved fairly quickly and we were in in no time at all. As soon as we were inside we saw an amazing couple of cosplays of Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) and Maleficent which our oldest nerdling wanted her photo taken with, the women were absolutely lovely and posed for the picture and also gave her a gift of a princess family card game. It's easy to say that she was absolutely made up. Winter Gardens is an absolutely beautiful venue and it has such a grand entrance it really makes you feel as though you are entering a wonderland, however once we were through though doors, we walked into complete chaos. The last con we went too (Preston Comic Con) had printed out floor maps and were handing them out in the queue, they had also put them up on their Facebook page prior so we could make a plan of action (we decide in advance who we want to see and then work out where they are to make our lives easier), but Blackpool had none of this and we only saw one sign in the entire place which was for the WWE Superstars, but it didn't really point you in the right direction. Considering how big Winter Gardens is and how many rooms there are, a map and signs I feel are essential. However, this was the events first year, there were bound to be teething problems and organisation was one of them.

Our first port of call was to find Kevin Nash as he has been one of my hubby's heroes since childhood and he has waited a long time for the chance to be able to meet him. Once we located the right room, we saw a huge line waiting to meet Mick Foley (yes THE Mick Foley, I was in the same room as Mick Foley!) but we were able to get to the front of Kevin Nash's table and wait for him while he finished up his photo shoot. While we were waiting I nipped over the Booker T's table and I was lucky enough to get his autograph. We are a WWE fan family. When Kevin Nash arrived my hubby talked to him for a few minutes and had his photograph taken with him, this absolutely made his day and Kevin was so nice and seemed to really enjoy the interaction.

Next up was Jeremy Wilkin who voiced Virgil Tracy in Thunderbirds, this one was for me. I absolutely love the original Thunderbirds and I have already met Shane Rimmer (who is absolutely lovely). There was only one lady in front of us but we had to wait a while, when I got to the front I found out why, Jeremy is a chatter! He was happy to talk away and engaged with the nerdlings, I was thoroughly happy with my encounter and was very happy with my autograph and how he signed it. Those who also got an autograph will know what I mean.

We were going to see Richard Madden and we did ask a member of staff where he was but they didn't know but luckily a con goer overheard us asking and pointed us in the right direction. When we found the queue it was coming out of a room with no sign and people were just asking people already in the queue who they were queueing for. We waited for a while before being told we might not get in before he had to go to his panel and that everyone had to put their cameras and phones away (not in the politest of ways). At this point we gave up on seeing him and went out to look round the stalls and to see the cosplay guests.

Our friend is a big fan of Doctor Who and was looking forward to meeting Jenna Coleman, but sadly we could not find her anywhere and no one was able to tell us where to find her, so he missed out on his opportunity.

Our final stop of the day was to meet Ian Beattie who played Sir Meryn Trant in Game of Thrones, I had wanted to meet him at Preston but had missed out so I didn't want to miss him again, We had to wait a long time at his table as the people who were manning the tables didn't know where he was or when he would be back (he was at a panel and then a group photo shoot) but I didn't want to miss him and we were the front of the queue. I have never been so glad to queue for anything ever, Ian is an absolutely wonderful man and just so lovely. He has the ability to make you feel like you're the only one in the room and that you have his full attention, which in a room filled with hundreds of people is an impressive feat! We had a brilliant chat and he let me take his picture holding mini nerdling even though he was covered in chocolate.

Once I was done speaking with Ian we went off to the sea front for a walk and to get some chips so we could cool down after being so hot inside and we were done with the con for the day.

Overall we really enjoyed our day and made of it what we wanted. There were some disappointments (where was the Batmobile and Ecto 1?) and the organisation was horrendous, but the calibre of guests was exceptional for a first time. I've heard all sorts of both rumours and information after the event and if they're all true then I don't believe we will see another Blackpool Comic Con in the future, which is sad firstly for the people who have been affected and secondly because the venue was so perfect and run by the right people I think this Con could be amazing.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

My Review of You

I'm really trying hard to work on my 2015 reading challenge as I'm really far behind on it and I still want to fully complete it by year end. This is meaning that I'm changing up some of the choices I made at the beginning of the year so that the books fit into the current genre mood I'm in. Overall I'm only 4 books off hitting the amount of books I'd set myself to read this year (I wanted to read 100 books) but out of those only 21 of them are from the 70 books for the challenge.

The book I chose for "a book with a one word title" was You by Caroline Kepnes. I was really excited to see this in The Works in their 3 books for £5 offer as I had heard so many good things about it and the whole concept sounded really new and interesting, getting a view from the eyes of the stalker rather than the stalkee. There are some very minor spoilers ahead, but if you've read anything about this book, you'll probably already know.

The start of the book was fantastic, I felt incredibly uncomfortable reading from Joe's perspective and the things going through his mind. The language used was so far from what I would use or hear, especially when the C-word was dropped in the first few pages or so. My hubby kept asking if I was enjoying the book and all I could say was "I don't know" the main character gave me the creeps and I didn't like being in his head but obviously that meant that Kepnes had done a brilliant job of portraying Joe. The book is exceptionally well written and it was definitely a unique way of telling this kind of story.

All of the characters in this book are absolutely awful human beings (apart from Ethan but we barely see him) and they have no redeeming qualities. Joe is awful for obvious reasons. Guinevere or Beck is a selfish, flaky and entitled brat. As for Beck's friends, each one is worse than the last. I know a few people who have read this have felt sorry for Joe and want him to succeed, this isn't my opinion but I certainly understand why they would feel like that with all the people he meets.

I got around half way through the book and I started to think the story started to lose credibility and believability, The story to begin with, was very creepy and made you seriously look at the mark you are leaving online that makes it so easy for the wrong people to find out everything about you. When Joe began on his kidnapping and murderous ways (also finding out about previous murders) it just lost the magic that had been created and just no longer captured my imagination the same way it had to start with.

Sadly the book ended up falling flat for me and it just wasn't what I had expected or wanted. I have since finishing the book found out that this isn't a stand alone which I feel takes away from the uniqueness even more, however being a completionist if I see the next book/books I will probably pick them up, just to see where this story can be taken as I feel everything has already been covered. I would love to be proven wrong and for me to get the experience that I wanted out of You from the next book (Hidden Bodies).

Overall a brilliantly written piece that in my opinion is let down by the story told.

I started reading this book on the 30th of August 2015 and finished it on the 2nd of September 2015
I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Red Blooded - My Review of Red Queen

The book I have ended up reading for the Popsugar challenge of "a book with a colour in the title" was a book that I hadn't planned on reading at all due to hearing so many mixed reviews and that book is Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. I was in Waterstones with my husband and they had their buy one get one half price offer on and he suggested I pick up this and another. (I also picked up The Kill Order by James Dashner, yes I'm a sucker for punishment)

I've heard a lot of people saying that this book is just a combination of everyone's favourite dystopian novels and yes as you read through you can see comparisons to other books such as the Hunger Games etc but that doesn't change the fact that the book is well written and a very enjoyable read.

I really liked all of the characters both main and peripheral, everyone had a personality and a place where they fit into the story. I enjoyed the mess that was the love interest in the story, it made a nice change from a straight forward love triangle and I still am not 100% sure who I'm rooting for, which normally by now I would have definitely decided on who I'd like the main character to be with (if anyone).

Though the story isn't unique, I thought it was really interesting and I'm looking forward to learning more about the world and the people in it. I also thought the betrayal and twist was done incredibly well, sadly I'd been spoilt as to the fact that there was a twist but luckily not what the actual twist was. Even though I knew it was coming I was still really shocked as I couldn't make up my mind who would be the betrayer and what would come from it.

I thought the story was paced well and built up to all the action at the end of the book which has left a perfect opening for the next instalment in this series (trilogy?)

Though it was not the book I set out to read, I'm very glad that I did and I will be recommending it to other people and picking up the next book.

I started reading this book on the 27th of August 2015 and finished reading it on the 30th of August 2015.
I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Monster Joke Month 2015 Snail Mail Project

A few weeks ago I had an idea which I thought was really fun and the more I've thought about it the more I wanted to share it with other people and hopefully for those people to get involved and join in.

My idea is that for the entire month of October, every piece of mail that I send out, whether it's a letter, package or a post card, will have a monster joke on it. I absolutely love Halloween and I thought this would be a really fun way of celebrating it using snail mail and sharing the fun with other people.

For other people to join in, I thought that I would create a hashtag and then every piece of mail you receive/send with a monster joke on, you could post a pic on Twitter or Instagram (or any other form of social media that you use) with the hashtag #MonsterJokeMonth or #MJM2K15

I really hope that people get involved as I am really excited about this and I'm really looking forward to seeing the monster jokes, the cheesier the better!

Please let me know if you're planning on joining me and I'll be watching the hashtags and re-tweeting/re-gramming any and all that I find. I'll also be blogging about the project throughout the month of October and I'll share some of my favourite jokes.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Snail Mail August 2015 Round Up

I thought I'd share something a little different this month and show my snail mail stats. I'm a member of the International Geek Girl Pen Pal Club (IGGPPC) and through them I have met a lot of wonderful friends that I exchange letters and postcards with. During August I've been keeping a record of how far each of my letters have travelled for both incoming and outgoing mail. I recorded the distances as the crow flies rather than by transport as I have no way of knowing which route any of them would take.

I sent a total of five letters and 2 postcards throughout the month and individually they travelled the following distances

Letter one travelled 4049 miles
Letter two travelled 33 miles
Letter three travelled 4782 miles
Letter four travelled 70 miles
Letter five travelled 5198 miles
Postcard one travelled 155 miles
Postcard two travelled 65 miles

I received one letter and two postcards which travelled the following distances

Letter one received travelled 70 miles
Postcard one travelled 4043 miles
Postcard two travelled 3797 miles

I then thought it might be fun to add up the distances to see how far in total everything has travelled, I'm thinking of maybe doing an quarterly and annual round up to see just how far my post travels

Letters sent total distance travelled 14.132 miles
Postcards sent total distance travelled 220 miles
Post sent total distance travelled 14,352 miles

Letters received total distance travelled 70 miles
Postcards received total distance travelled 7840 miles
Post received total distance travelled 7910 miles

Overall total distance travelled
Letters - 14,202 miles
Postcards - 8060 miles
Combined - 22,262 miles

I really hope you enjoyed having a look into my snail mail life, I'm hoping to do more blogs about the kind of things I do with my pen pals in the future.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

August 2015 Book Round Up

After a bit of a reading slump, I am slowly getting back into my reading groove. After reading the Gone series and it being so intense I've been reading a lot of quick easy reads to break myself into things but by the end of the month I was ready for more.

Book 1 - Wolverine MAX, Vol. 1: Permanent Rage by Jason Starr - 4.5 Stars
Book 2 - Batman Incorporated, Vol 1: Demon Star by Grant Morrison - 2.5 Stars
Book 3 - Ms Marvel, Vol.1 No Normal by G. Willow Wilson - 3 Stars
Book 4 - Fear by Michael Grant - 5 Stars
Book 5 - Light by Michael Grant - 5 Stars
Book 6 - Elektra, Vol. 1: Bloodlines by W. Haden Blackman - 5 Stars
Book 7 - A Night In Terror Tower by R.L. Stine - 4 Stars
Book 8 - Fright Camp by R.L. Stine - 4 Stars
Book 9 - The Unexpected Occurrence Of Thaddeus Hobble - 4 Stars
Book 10 - Batman Adventures Vol. 1 by Kelley Puckett - 5 Stars
Book 11 - Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime by Val McDermid - 5 Stars
Book 12 - Rogues Revenge by Geoff Johns - 3 Stars
Book 13 - X-Men: Wolverine/Gambit by Jeph Loeb - 4 Stars
Book 14 - Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard - 5 Stars

I'm thinking about trying a different format of how I do my round ups at the end of next month to make this a little more interesting. If there's anything specific you'd like to see, like recommendations or synopsis of the books, please let me know.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

My Review of The Assassin Princess

I originally had a different book chosen for the Book Riot topic of "a book published by an indie press", but then I was lucky enough to win a signed copy of The Assassin Princess by Blake Rivers on Facebook directly from the author and thought that it would be a perfect choice for me.

I'd read the blurb and I'd read the Goodreads description as I'd been coveting the book for a while and it sounded really interesting so I was really excited to read it. It was everything I expected and more!

The world building is brilliant and I absolutely adore Legacy, the Planrus Lands etc. They are described just enough for you to picture them yourself but with enough detail so you have a complete picture, The lore and the history that you learn as you travel through the book is incredibly interesting and going forward I would love to read more about it, it's just so well thought out and credible. The magic is also very cleverly done with where it comes from and how it is used, I don't want to go into it too much as I don't want to ruin the wonder of anyone coming to read this book.

The main three characters are Ami, Adam and Hero. Ami is exactly the right kind of badass female main protagonist that you want in a story, Adam is exactly the right kind of twisted evil you want in a story and Hero is the perfect damaged hero you want in a story. I genuinely think the characterisation has been done so well and not only for the main characters, I love the story about Ami's parents and I love the unicorns (yes there are unicorns in this book!)

I'd say the only criticism I have about this is that I don't have the next book in the series so I cannot just jump straight back into the world.

Just a mention about the front cover too, it's stunning and eye catching. So simple and yet striking.

Overall a fantastic book that throws you straight into the action and keeps you going right until the very end. People need to read this book.

I started this book on the 16th of July 2015 and finished it on the 25th of July 2015
I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads

Monday, 3 August 2015

July 2015 Book Round Up

This month I have continued with my slump! I really need to get back into reading more again so I can power through the rest of my 2015 reading challenge. I am determined to complete it before year end. Anyone who has tips to kick a reading slump, please let me know! Anyway onto the books -

Book 1 - Plague by Michael Grant - 4.5 Stars
Book 2 - The Death Cure by James Dashner - 2 Stars
Book 3 - Grey by E L James - 3 Stars
Book 4 - The Art of War by Sun Tzu - 3 Stars
Book 5 - Ultimate Comics Ultimates: Disassembled by Joshua Hale Fialkov - 3 Stars
Book 6 - Red Robin, Volume 2: Collision by Christopher Yost - 5 Stars
Book 7 - Batman: Gordon of Gotham by Dennis O'Neil - 4 Stars
Book 8 - The Assassin Princess by Blake Rivers - 4.5 Stars
Book 9 - Grimm' Fairy Tales: The Complete Collection by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, interpreted by Margaret Hunt - 5 Stars

And that's it. Fingers crossed for more books and reviews in August.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Make Love Not War - My Review of The Art of War

I'm really trying to cut down the amount of books left on my 2015 Reading Challenge and I decided to chose one that was a topic on both the PopSugar and Book Riot challenges and that was "a book that was originally written in a different language". The book I chose was one that has been on my owned tbr for a long time and the book was The Art of War by Sun Tzu.

The Art of War was originally written in Chinese and the copy I read was in English. The book took me just over an hour to read and was surprisingly easy to read. I expected a lot more detail and more indepth descriptions. The writing style was almost lyrical or like poetry and so that was how I read it in my mind.

I don't really know how to review this book as it is so different to everything I normally read. Yes I feel it is an important book and I am glad that I read it. As to whether I think it is still relevant, maybe. Some people say that you can relate certain things to your work life instead of war, but I'm not entirely certain that it would be necessary.

I know this is short and sweet but I really don't have a lot to say about this book

I read this book on the 12th of July
I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads

Saturday, 11 July 2015

How Not to End a Trilogy - My Review of The Death Cure (Contains spoilers, many spoilers)

The Death Cure by James Dashner is the third and final book in my 2015 Reading Challenge for the PopSugar topic of a "trilogy" and oh boy was I disappointed.

The first two books in this trilogy, though they had their faults, kept me interested and I liked the characters and I really wanted to know what was going on. I continued reading on the promise that everything would be explained and we would understand what was happening.

I'm annoyed at myself while writing this review as I normally take notes as I read, but for some unknown reason I didn't for this book and so all my thoughts are disjointed and I'm trying to get them straight so I can explain my feelings. I apologise for things being out of order and slightly jumbled.

I'll start with the characters, all of them, yes ALL OF THEM have lost any personality that they had and any character development that had been going on in previous books just comes to a grinding halt from page one of the Death Cure. One of the worst casualties of this is Theresa, in The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials I thought she was very interesting and I was looking forward to learning more about hers and Thomas' relationship. I thought in this book she would be given the chance to redeem herself for the things she had to do in the past and would come out stronger and more badass than before, but no, there was nothing except bits making her sound awful and then she's killed off in one sentence and no one even really cares. She's actually barely in the book at all. I also grow to dislike Brenda and Jorge after liking them before, Brenda is used as a way to progress the plot and Jorge is just a peripheral character all of a sudden, Also I must have been really confused in The Scorch Trials because I thought that Jorge was the same age-ish as the rest of the characters but in this book his relationship with Brenda is described as Uncle and Niece? It could just be me who totally missed something but that was the impression I was under.

Onto Thomas our main protagonist, he has spent the last two books bemoaning the loss of his memory and being determined to get it back no matter what. So when he's offered the chance to get his memory back, what do you think he does, yep he doesn't do it!! And for what reason? Oh because it's a scary looking machine. Seriously after everything they've been through and dealt with, he can't bear two minutes of discomfort to get what he has wanted all this time. This now means that not only does he not get any memories, but we as readers get no answers bar the tiny bits of dream memories that are thrown in every now and again. This made me really angry as this was the great reveal I'd been waiting for and it was taken away from me!

The story in this book also seems all over the place. There is a whole lot of action but nothing really happens. Dashner brings in  this Right Arm movement people and then doesn't really do anything at all with them except use them to create drama in the final scenes. I also wondered why the book became a zombie apocalypse survival story, I understand it was people beyond "the gone" but it just became one fight/escape after another, Oooh and another thing, where was Dashner going with the whole the group being followed in Denver and all the streets being quiet and then,...what? Was he going somewhere with it and then forgot about it? It feels like a whole heap of different ideas he had which he started but then never followed through to completion.

Another part of the story which baffled me was the introduction by Brenda that this Chancellor Paige was super important and we should look out for her, there are posters of her face everywhere etc and then all we get is that she came in while Thomas was unconscious and leaves a note for him. We don't even get to meet her and I was waiting from the moment Brenda mentioned her for her to appear somewhere. And then right at the end we get an email from her explaining the happy ending that we got (yes it was a happily ever after, well for the munies anyway) that it was all WICKED's fault anyway releasing the Flare. This would have made an excellent plot point DURING the story, not as an after thought at the end.

One final piece of the story I want to mention is the storyline with Newt. I feel if Thomas had read the letter at an appropriate point and followed through with Newt's request, then Newt's death would have been a lot more emotional and I would have been genuinely upset as I had previously enjoyed Newt as a character. As it was though, it just felt kind of shoehorned in and like I said, that Dashner had started a plot line and then totally forgotten about it.

Overall this book was extremely frustrating and very unsatisfying. I had enjoyed the trilogy up to this point and then the ending has left me disappointed. I probably will pick up the Kill Order at some point purely because I'm a completionist, but I will get it from the library or something rather than buying it. I would recommend reading The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials and then just making up your own ending as I think you'd probably do a better job yourself.

I started this book on the 4th of July 2015 and I finished it on the 6th of July
I did originally give this book 3 stars on Goodreads, but while writing this review I have amended that to 2 stars

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

June 2015 Book Round Up

I started the beginning of June with a serious case of reading slump and I didn't read for days as I just didn't know what I was in the mood for. I then decided that I really wanted to read some manga but it seems I've exhausted my local libraries supply and there was only one that I hadn't read, so I ended up with a few graphic novels/trade paper backs as an alternative.

Book 1 - The Borrowers by Mary Norton - 3 Stars
Book 2 - Batman: A Death In The Family by Jim Starlin - 5 Stars
Book 3 - X-Men and Power Pack: The Power of X by Marc Sumerak - 3 Stars
Book 4 - Animal Academy: Hakobune Hakusho Volume 1 Moyamu Fujino - 2 Stars
Book 5 - Hunger by Michael Grant - 5 Stars
Book 6 - Lies by Michael Grant - 5 Stars
Book 7 - Captain Atom, Volume 1: Evolution by J.T. Krul - 4 Stars
Book 8 - Justice League Beyond: In Gods we Trust by Derek Fridolfs - 4 Stars
Book 9 - Uncanny X-Men: Sisterhood by Matt Fraction - 3.5 Stars
Book 10 - Batman: Gotham by Gaslight by Brian Augustyn - 5 Stars
Book 11 - Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman - 5 Stars
Book 12 - The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - 1 Stars

Not a bad month, though I really need to get back into it as that last book has put me back into a slump! What's everyone else been reading this month?

Sunday, 28 June 2015

My Review of The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas

For the PopSugar topic of "a book that makes you cry," I added  book that I have wanted to read for a long time, but just have never seemed to have gotten around to. The book I chose was The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne.

I'm not entirely sure where to start with my review, but I'll start by being honest and admitting that I hated this book. Hopefully I will be able to coherently explain as to why.

The first few pages of the book I found the writing style to be extremely strange and it took me a while to get into the flow of how Boyne wrote. I also found a lot of the metaphors and similes extremely odd, for example on page 7 we had this simile " 'Say Goodbye to them?' he repeated, spluttering out the words as if his mouth was full of biscuits that he'd munched into tiny pieces but not actually swallowed yet."  To me that just seems really long winded and awkward.


The descriptions of some of the characters physical actions are also odd, the fact that Bruno (who is 9) feels his arms stretching out at his sides in surprise, is something that my toddler does when he's surprised or excited. A child of 9 would have grown out of this a long time ago. Also the amount of people whose mouth formed the shape of a O is quite ridiculous. There are so many better ways of describing this facial expression such as " his jaw dropped in surprise," "her mouth was agape" I could go on, but you get the picture.


Another thing I found infuriating was Bruno's mispronunciation of Auschwitz and Fuhrer. It felt as though Boyne was just trying to avoid actually using the words in his book. It is just plain unbelievable that a child of one of Hitler's top men would be allowed to go on in this manner, oh and don't let me forget that he believes that saluting and saying "heil Hitler" is a way of saying "goodbye and I hope you have a nice day".....yeah....oh, oh and a high ranking Commandant's son that does not know what or rather who a Jew is. I do understand that a lot of people at the time were sadly unaware of what was happening around them, but as someone who is living right next to Auschwitz and who is surrounded by soldiers, it just seems unbelievable in my opinion that Bruno would know so little. My feelings are that Boyne used this time period and the atrocities that happened to write his "fable" but was then too scared to actually use any form of correct representation of what was actually going on.


As children of a Commandant, there is no way they would have been allowed to have been out of education for even a short amount of time or some form or military style training. By 1943 (which is the year I'm guessing this is set in due to Bruno being 9 and born in 1934) the Hitler Youth and the subdivisions were recruiting children as young as 10, so though Bruno wasn't quite old enough, he would have being prepared for it and Gretel would definitely have gone as I believe only 10 or 20% of German youths avoided being drafted.

SO MUCH REPETITION (is it annoying yet)

I felt that the children were portrayed in such a way that they appeared much younger than any child, especially in a time of war, would seem. Children are extremely intelligent and know a lot more than any adult would like to think. Their characters just didn't seem to fit the ages that were given as 9 and 12, I don't feel that Boyne can write children very well at all, the way they talk, think and act just don't seem natural.


And we come to the ending, if you don't want to be spoiled, stop reading here...Ok the ending for me came completely out of nowhere and was surprising, however I am apparently the only person who hadn't been spoiled for the ending as even my husband knew what happened and he has neither read the book or seen the film. I did not cry at the tragic end as I'd not felt any connection to any of the characters and I felt that though yes you should definitely mourn the loss of one boy, the book almost sidelines the fact that millions of people died. Even the final sentences were kind of insulting "Of course all this happened a long time ago and nothing like that could ever happen again. Not in this day and age."

Did I mention - SO MUCH REPETITION (Ok I'll stop now)

The only part of the book that I actually found quite interesting was the implied affair between Bruno's Mother (who was never even given a name) and Lieutenant Kotler. But we never really get anything in a way of payoff as we're following the story through the eyes of a child. All that happens is that Kotler is sent away, whereas I would have thought he would have suffered an "accident" but maybe that's just me.

I do kind of feel that I am cheating using this book as the one that made me cry as it did not. I am going to stand by it as I could cry with anger and frustration at how history has been used to produce this book. There are even now more things that I could comment on (the fence not being electrified, no guard patrols, a child in Auschwitz being able to sit around all afternoon without anyone noticing, the fact that that child was alive, the fact there was a way under the fence and not one person tried to escape) about how much I dislike this book, but have chosen to only include the most prevalent in my mind while writing this.

I originally gave this book 2 stars on Goodreads, just due to the surprise ending (for me) and then I dropped it to 1.5 and now as I've been writing my review I have decided it is only a 1 star.
I started reading this book on the 23rd of June 2015 and finished it on the 26th of June 2015

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Can I Borrow a Feeling - My Review of The Borrowers

Back to PopSugar for this reading choice, and I opted for "a book my mum loved" It took a good while for her to decide what she would suggest., but her final decision was to suggest The Borrowers by Mary Norton which made me really happy as it was a book I loved as a child, so off I went to borrow it from my local library.

The book started off extremely slow and I found it very hard to get into, I kept putting it down and finding pretty much anything else that I could do instead of finish reading it. Sadly I think the book has aged badly due to it's casual mentioning of smacking children and being firm handed with your wife, The idea of the story itself is brilliant and with the amount of things I put down which disappear, I'm inclined to believe in Borrowers.

When Arrietty meets the boy, some of the magic I remembered came back into the story and it seemed to pick up the pace of the story as before she was "seen" the story was just meandering along with no real purpose or destination.

I think my favourite part of the book was in the back, where there were loads of quizzes and activities to do once you had finished reading. One of the activities was to draw your own Borrower family and make up a story around them which I think is a fantastic idea.

I started this book on the 19th of May 2015 and I finished reading it on the 6th of June 2015
I gave this book 3 Stars on Goodreads

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Cyborgs, Princesses and Fairy Tales Oh My! - My Review of Cinder

I've been doing a lot of the PopSugar categories recently so I thought it was about time to get into some of the Book Riot Read Harder challenge categories. I chose "a book that is a retelling of a classic story" and the book I chose was Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

I will hold my hands up and confess that before reading this book, I really thought I was going to hate it. I don't like cyborgs and I'm pretty sure this is the first retelling book I've ever read so I did not know what to expect and I had made a judgement before I even started.

The writing throughout Cinder is fantastic and Meyer has created a world and characters that you can instantly recognise and relate to. I absolutely adore the characters of Cinder, Iko and Kai and in complete contrast I absolutely hate Queen Levana with a passion, though I think there's more to her character which I'm looking forward to hopefully finding more about in one of the other books.

I really enjoyed the fact that we had a bit of back story for the prince in this story too as I sometimes feel we get the princesses story and then prince charming just rocks up to save the day without us knowing much about him (this isn't true for all fairy tales, just some of the ones I can think of off the top of my head).

I loved this book and was gob smacked it ended when it did, I don't have the next book and I NEED to know what happens next.

The only...not negative but something I want to point out is that I figured out pretty much on page one who Princess Selene was, to be honest though surely everyone must have known. Am I right?

I started this book on the 23rd of May 2015 and I finished reading it on the 24th of May 2015
I gave this book 5 Stars on Goodreads

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Hot! Hot! Hot! - My Review of The Scorch Trials

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner is the 2nd instalment of my choice for the PopSugar "trilogy" category. There was nearly a month between me reading this and The Maze Runner, but the story was still really clear in my mind and I knew exactly where the story had left off which is a good sign that I had really enjoyed the book.

I feel like I've said it a lot recently but this book definitely got start with a bang, Dashner does an amazing job of creating the feeling of confusion and fear with the fast paced and bizarre goings on. You feel alongside the characters and need to keep reading to find out what on earth is going on.

With how much was happening, I got around 50% through the book and I needed a break, I was just so tired with all the adrenaline rushes. After I got past this though, I flew through the second half of the book and I'm really looking forward to finding out, hopefully, how these trials are helping design a cure for anything or how it will help save the world putting children through so much trauma in the final book.

I did enjoy the addition of the new characters Brenda and Jorge though I wasn't sure about them at first, I really grew to like both of them. I do feel really sorry though for all the peripheral characters that survived the Maze, that we never even learn their names and they keep getting killed off like red shirts in Star Trek.

I'm going to have another small break before reading the final book in this trilogy (eventually I am planning on getting the prequel and reading that too), but I really can't wait to continue the journey with Thomas and the gang.

I started reading this book on the 20th of May 2015 and I finished it on the 23rd of May 2015
I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

May 2015 Book Round Up

I said earlier this year that I would start to do a round up of the books I'd read each month as I was only blogging reviews of books on my reading challenges and I have finally got organised enough to be able to do it! Yay! These are the books I've read during May with the rating I gave them on Goodreads.

Book 1 - Half Bad by Sally Green  - 4 Stars
Book 2 - Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher - 5 Stars
Book 3 - Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth - 5 Stars
Book 4 - Superman: He'l On Earth by Scott Lobdell - 5 Stars
Book 5 - Superman: Godfall by Michael Lane Turner - 3 Stars
Book 6 - Gone by Michael Grant - 4 Stars
Book 7 - The Scorch Trials by James Dashner - 4 Star
Book 8 - Cinder by Marissa Meyer - 5 Stars
Book 9 - Half Wild by Sally Green - 5 Stars

9 Books, not a bad month if I do say so myself. Currently I am 52% the way through my reading goal of 100 books this year and I am 11 books ahead of schedule according to my Goodreads reading challenge counter thingy. I am however really slacking in my 2015 Reading Challenge, my Classics Challenge (though to be fair this is a 5 year target) and my Panels Challenge, I really need to make more of an effort to start ticking books off my lists.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

My Review of The Maze Runner

My original choice for PopSugar's reading challenge category "a trilogy" was the Bourne Identity, I have owned the books for years and have only watched the 1st movie (which I wasn't overly enthralled with) and thought now was a perfect time to read it. As I've got more into my challenge, I have decided they are just not what I fancy and I didn't want to get myself into a reading slump by reading something I wasn't interested in. So I decided to choose something a little more fast paced and something I wanted to read and that was The Maze Runner trilogy by James Dashner, the first book being The Maze Runner.

I'll start by saying that I'm not really sure why everyone seems to think that this book starts off slow, I think it starts off great and just keeps going. There is pretty much action from page one and it just builds from there.

James Dashner has done some excellent things in this book, the memory erasure was extremely well thought out and explained really well, he creates an incredibly creepy feeling during the book with the maze and the artificial environment. Did I mention how horrendous the Grievers sounded?! Urgh! One thing that really irritated me throughout the book was the weird slang that the boys used, I really didn't feel there was any need for it at all as they all knew the correct words and slang for what they were saying. To me it feels like Dashner came up with this language at some point in the past and wanted to use it in one of his books.

I did very much enjoy this book and I am looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy (though I've now found out that there is a prequel? I'm not counting that though I will probably still read it). As much as I did enjoy it though, I felt like there was something missing and I could happily put the book down and not be constantly wondering when the next time I could pick it up would be, not enough to make me dislike it, just enough to make me like it less than other books I have read recently.

I started reading this book on the 17th of April 2015 and finished reading it on the 25th of April 2015
I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Things that go bump in the night - My review of The Haunting of Hill House

I took my time choosing the book for the PopSugar challenge topic "a book that scares you" as I wanted something scary, but not too scary, because as I've got older, I just can't deal with horror the way I used to be able to and now pretty much everything terrifies me. I decided on a classic that sounded more psychological than outright horror and it's one I have wanted to read for a long time, the book I chose was The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. There will be a spoiler in this review, so you have been fairly warned.

The first thing that struck me about this book was the writing, it seemed slightly "off" to me. The book was written/published in 1959 and yet the writing seemed to try and make it feel like it was written a lot earlier than that. Once I got into it though, I got used to how it sounded and it felt natural.

The story itself took almost half the book to get started, but I did enjoy the character building with Eleanor. I absolutely love how Eleanor made stories in her head about things that she saw as she was driving along as I do the same thing when I'm out and about. Something I didn't like was the conversations between the guests at the house, I know it was written in a different time, but seriously who has conversations like these people do? All the make believe and non sensical stuff at times took away from the story and I found I didn't really follow what they were talking about.

This bit contains the spoiler. After finishing the book, there are a few things I'm still unsure about so if you can answer any of them or have your own thoughts please let me know! I'm not 100% sure whether there actually was any paranormal activity or whether it was just fear creating fear. And finally the ending left me confused, did Eleanor really exist? Did she kill herself? What happened?

Overall though I enjoyed this book and I'm glad that I got around to reading it.

I started reading this book on the 2nd of April 2015 and finished reading it on the 4th of April 2015
I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

My Review of Throne of Glass

I'm currently trying to make a concerted effort to read my 2015 Reading challenge books as I'm actually finding it quite restrictive even though I thought it would help widen my horizons with genre, content and authors etc. I think next year, I may come up with my own challenge which will allow me a lot more freedom, but we'll see how things go.

Anyhoo, onto my review of Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas, which I chose for the topic "a book with a love triangle" for the PopSugar part of my reading challenge.

The story certainly gets right into it from page one, so it grips you from the get go and you want to carry on reading to find out what is happening. I felt that the world was really well built and I could picture each place perfectly in my head with the descriptions given. I do feel though that you could tell at times that this book was written by a younger person, not that it mattered or was in any way detrimental to the book, but I noticed it enough to feel like I should mention it.

The characters for me are great and I love the characters I'm supposed to and love to hate the characters I'm supposed to hate, which means that the author has done a good job. Having read Divergent just prior to reading this, I felt that Celeana actually seemed younger that Tris even though Celeana is 18 and Tris is only 16. I can't put my finger on why I felt this, but there was just something that made me feel that their ages were reversed.

The hints of magic throughout the book are tantalising and I can't wait to see more of it as the series continues, the story is also left at a perfect jumping off point, leaving me wanting to read more.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I am looking forward to continuing with the series.

I started this book on the 8th of April 2015 and I finished it on the 12th of April 2015
I gave this book 5 Stars on Goodreads

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Preston Table Top Day 2015

The 11th of April this year was the 3rd annual International Table Top Day. International Table Top Day was created three years ago as a way for board gamers around the world come together and celebrate table top gaming and this year I was able to go to an event to celebrate it. The event that I went to was Preston Table Top Day and it was held in the Foster Learning Building at the University of Central Lancashire, UK.
When we got there (finally, university campuses are confusing!) we were welcomed into the building by the organisers and pointed in the direction of the room the event was being held in. Inside were tables galore laid out ready for people to play games, game tables all ready set up for bigger games and stalls to buy table top goodies.
We stopped by was The Museum of Gaming table, who were showing some ancient games and letting people play. Me and my husband had a go at a game called Rota from Roman times and it was so much fun. It’s very much like noughts and crosses, except that it is circular and there is a second stage in which you can then move your pieces into empty places to try and win if no one matches their three counters in the first stage.

We had a look around and watched some people playing family games and a man painting game pieces. We chatted to the stall holders about games and what they suggested and our friend bought himself One Night: Ultimate Werewolf (which we played and it was awesome). The final game we played was Cube Quest, which was incredibly fun! It’s kind of a strategy game that involves flicking cubes across the board.

Preston Table Top Day was family friendly and I took a 6 year old and a 21 month old with me and they both thoroughly enjoyed themselves. There were so many games and activities to get involved in and there was something there for everyone. We would definitely go again and would recommend that people go and get involved on International Table Top Day.

I was cheeky and asked if I could ask the organiser, Millie, some questions and she was good enough to agree:-
Can you tell me the history or story behind Preston Table Top Day?
Preston Table Top Day was part of International Table Top Day, Wil Wheaton has a YouTube show called Tabletop (yes it’s Wesley from TNG) and they created the holiday back in 2013. I went to an event last year at Harlequin’s Game Shop, it was great. I recorded a radio show about it and was lucky enough to have a phone interview with Boyan Radokovich (the producer and “games guru” of the show) You can listen to the show here.
How did you get involved in being the organiser of the event this year?
I thought it would be great to have a HUGE event for the day and level it up from the one I went to in 2014. So I chatted to people and spoke to people on Facebook and Twitter and a lot of people agreed that it would be a good idea. So I went on to set up a Kickstarter page to help fund the event, thinking that I would just get enough to cover the cost of the venue and the insurance. We ended up with almost double the amount so we were able to get make special t-shirts for the backers, have a game designed for us, there were prizes and promotional items that were given away through a free raffle, a Pandemic tournament was run with prizes and the entrance was free for everyone who came. It also meant that the people who volunteered to help got some drinks and I was able to give them each a thank you present.
But I’ve waffled away from the question, I was the organiser because I wanted there to be a giant Table Top Day event, so I made it happen. There were some amazing people, who I couldn’t have done it without, but basically I wanted it to happen in my City so I did everything I could to make it.
Can you tell me about your day job?
I make podcasts, some YouTube videos and I write some blogs. But really I’m a stay at home mum; I take the kids to school, cook tea, load the washer and wash the dishes. There’s fun stuff too, I’m very lucky that I get to spend so much time with my family, see my kiddies grow up and spend time with my husband, it’s actually great fun.
Was there a final tally as to how many people attended?
178! The real count is a little higher, there were some kiddies there that didn’t count towards the door tally and also the vendors and volunteers aren’t in that total. But 178 people played games at Preston Table Top Day!
What is your favourite board game?
I love a game called The Resistance; it’s a social game where you’re either a spy or a Resistance member. The aim of the game depends on what team you’re on. If you’re a Resistance member, you need three successful missions. If you’re a spy, you want to sabotage three missions. Everyone’s roles are hidden; it’s a game full of social deduction, lies and convincing your friends that you’re really on their team…even when you’re not.
Will there be a Preston Table Top Day 2016?
I think so, I’m currently deciding on if I should try another Kickstarter or if we should charge a really small ticket price and see if we can get a bigger venue or a bigger area of UCLAN.

A big thank you to Millie for your time and effort in organising this event and thank you for answering my questions

This was originally published on the IGGPPC blog which you can view here.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

A Non Divergent Opinion - My review of Divergent (Some Spoilers)

It's been quite a few days now since I finished this book and I finally feel that I can (maybe) put my thoughts and feelings into words. As part of the PopSugar reading challenge (see my 2015 Reading challenge) I chose to read Divergent by Veronica Roth for the topic of "A book that became a movie" I knew absolutely nothing about it (apart from that a load of people of book tube had read it) and chose it off a Goodreads list of books that became movies. My plan was to keep a lookout for it at the library or maybe wait till later in the year and see if I could pick it up somewhere, Now, my hubby obviously pays more attention to me than I thought as this is I think the second time he knew something was on my reading challenge list and when he saw the trilogy box set in a bookshop, he picked it up for me!

Going into reading Divergent, I really didn't hold up much hope of me liking it, but knew it'd be quite a quick easy read, I was so incredibly wrong! I was instantly hooked from the first page and I genuinely loved everything about this book. The characters are all well formed and have their own individual personality and identity. The world design and the idea of the 5 different factions is extremely interesting to me and I look forward to learning more about it all in the next books. I'm incredibly glad I have all three of the main books (though I now need the Four book too!!) so I can just get straight on and carry on with the story.

I'm late to the party, but how awesome is Four/Tobias?! Seriously I absolutely adore his character, though I have to admit that I thought his character was late twenties until they actually said he was only 18. I'm really looking forward to getting the book containing four novellas of scenes from the book from his perspective,

There is one thing I was really sad about and that was the death of Tris' mother. Her character was amazing, interesting and full of strength and I would have absolutely loved to have seen more of her in the following books. However the death worked well in the story and didn't feel just put in for shock value.

I cannot recommend this book enough to anyone and everyone, you all need to go out and read it. It has been the first book in a long time that I have not wanted to put down.

I started this book on the 2nd of April 2015 and finished it on the 4th of April 2015
I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads

Monday, 6 April 2015

A Trip Down Memory Lane - My Review of The Enchanted Wood

Choosing a book for the "a book from your childhood" section of the Popsugar reading challenge was very difficult due to the fact I loved so many books! I ended up choosing the first book in The Faraway Tree series, The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton.

Re- reading this as an adult, I was worried that it may have lost its charm, however I was wrong. I still thoroughly enjoyed Beth, Joe and Franny's adventures in the Enchanted Wood and up the Faraway Tree. I love the imagination and thought that went into each of the worlds that they found at the top of the tree. Each of the characters has its own personality and I particularly like Mr Whatizname as a grumpy old wizard who loves his sleep. I look forward to my little ones reading this series and seeing what they make of it.

The only things I did notice (as an adult) is that the children aren't just "mischievous" they're downright naughty. Sneaking out at night, disobeying their parents and doing things they know that they shouldn't. Though I think that my parent might be showing! There was also one story where the characters were all turned into toys and Silky was turned into a doll and everyone kept saying how pretty she was and that they wanted to take her away. This made me feel a little uncomfortable, but when this was originally released in 1939, it was a completely different time.

Overall I still really enjoyed this book and will probably now go back and re read the whole series. It brought back great memories of reading this as a child and I'd definitely recommend it to anyone.

I started this book on the 26th of March 2015 and I finished it on the 1st of April 2015
I gave this book 4.5 stars on Goodreads (rounded up to 5 stars)

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Tinged With Disappointment - My Review of Ready Player One

Ok I've been putting off writing my review of this book for a good few days now as I feel like I'm letting people down with what I think of it. The book I'm talking about is Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I chose this book for the PopSugar challenge topic of a book set in the future and my husband knew it was on the list and that I was excited about reading it so he went and ordered me a copy.

As soon as it arrived, I put down my other books and I started reading. It started off ok, but no better than anything else I've read. It then went onto infodump for about a quarter of the book before anything really happened. I kept waiting and waiting, but it was just very flat. Then when something finally did happen, a love interest was introduced. As much as I liked Art3mis, I don't feel that her character added anything to the story. I would have preferred to see how Parzival and Aech dealt with the whole situation being best friends and seeing if they could stay that way or if the game would tear them apart (rather than what happened and a relationship got in the way).

Everyone has also said that it's cool that there are all these 80's references and as a big fan of the 80's I was looking forward to spotting things I knew about. I didn't need to "spot" them though as they were clearly dropped almost like someone bragging that they knew a famous person. It felt very much like the author was trying to show how cool he was and was trying too hard by mentioning all these retro games and films etc.

I could see the ending coming a mile away and if I remember rightly, the ending seems to be a slight variation on the ending to the film Hackers. It has been a while since I've watched it, but still...

Overall I feel really let down by the book, though I am glad I read it so that I could form my own opinion. It took me far longer than a book this length should as I had to force myself to keep picking it back up, when I was expecting a page turner.

I started this book on the 20th of March 2015 and finished it on the 26th of March 2015
I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads, though I would have preferred to have given it 2.5

Sunday, 15 March 2015

My Review of In The Dark by Richard Laymon

I really need to get back to reading books on my reading challenge lists and stop getting distracted by ALL THE BOOKS. So on both the PopSugar reading challenge and the BookRiot read harder challenge, there is a topic for "a book recommended by a friend" and the book I was recommended to by the hubby (he counts as a friend right?) was In The Dark by Richard Laymon.

Since meeting my hubby I've read quite a few Richard Laymon books as he is one of his favourite authors, this isn't one of them though and he really wanted me to read it to see what I thought as he hasn't read it yet either. 

As with all Richard Laymon books, even though this was over 500 pages long, it was very quick and easy to read and I read it in just a couple of hours over 3 days. 

The story centres around Jane who is the new head librarian in the town and she receives an envelope which contains money and a clue to where she would find more money. Along the way she meets Brace who becomes a love interest and you get the usual "is it him or is it not" twists, hints and misdirections. As she follows each clue, the challenges become more and more difficult and dangerous. As a normal, sensible human being (honestly) there is no way I'd have gone past finding the first envelope and I don't think anyone with any sort of sanity would continue past maybe the fourth one when it becomes more extreme. 

The characters as usual for a Richard Laymon book are pretty pantomime, but I found both the main characters to be likeable which isn't always the case. 

Overall I really enjoyed the story and would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of horror without it being too scary, There was just one bit at the end that I felt was an unnecessary addition to the story, but I won't say what as I do try to keep spoilers out of my reviews. 

One thing I did do when starting to read this book was to get out my pen and paper and start a "nipple" count. If you've read any Richard Laymon at all, you'll probably know he loves the word nipple! This book actually came in with a relatively low score of only 11 mentions.

I started reading this book on the 6th of March 2015 and finished it on the 9th of March 2015
I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads