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The Autumn Tag 2019

AUTUMN IS HERE. Autumn is my favourite season and I’m so happy!! It’s a little early in the morning as I type this and it’s still mostly dark outside and I love it. I know when I go to do the school run later I’m going to wear my long grey cardigan and my shadowhunter rune scarf and I’m so glad it’s cold enough to do so. LOVE IT. So as the joy of Autumn feeds my soul I thought it would be a good time to try my hand at The Autumn Tag! I was tagged by the lovely Jenn from Jenniely and will try to remember to tag some more people below!

1. Hot Chocolate – what is your comfort book?

I love rereading Heartstopper to give me a case of the warm and fuzzies. If I want to escape for a while and get a nostalgia hit I’ll reach for The Hobbit and if I’m feeling some good ole cheesy, YA angst I’ll go for one of the Twilight books for City of Bones.

2. Pumpkin Carving – what is your favourite creative outlet?

I’m not really good at anything creative. I loved to write, fiction, a little poetry and D&D stories etc are my favourites. I’d love to learn to knit or crochet though.

3. Falling Leaves – changes that appear bad but you secretly love?

I don’t really deal well with any kind of change, to be honest.

4. Pumpkin Spiced Latte – something you love that others tend to judge

I think a lot of adults who aren’t in my circle of friends, e.g the people I used to work with used to think it weird that I still played video games in my late 20’s and that I read a lot of fantasy and Sci-fi, especially YA.

Also, I loved The Cursed Child and I’m a Reylo (I ship Kylo Ren/Ben Solo and Rey in Star Wars) which really infuriates a lot of people.

5. Bonfire Night – what makes you explode with joy?

So this might sound like a weird one but when I go to a concert and the band plays my favourite song or a song that means a lot to me. I have literally wept with joy at concerts and although I don’t go to them hugely often anymore I always remember that feeling.

6. Fright Night – favourite scary book or film

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe is amazing and it gave me actual nightmares.

7. Halloween candy – favourite thing to eat

I really need to cut down on snacking in the evening because at the moment I really love these cheap knock off peanut M&M’s and they’re super addictive. I think my absolute favourite thing to eat would probably be my dad’s curry though.

8. Scarves – your autumn ‘must-have’ accessory

SCARVES AND CARDIGANS. I have an extensive scarf collection and I’m so happy that it’s finally getting cold enough to wear them and I plan to replenish my cardigan draw this year as I’m down to just a couple after wearing most of my favourite ones to death.

9. Fire – a book or film that burns your soul

Probably another unpopular opinion but The Last Jedi. I loved The Force Awakens, I love Rey and I hated Kylo Ren but the damn emotions I went through during TLJ were crazy and when THAT fight scene happens (in the throne room) I practically vibrated with joy and I loved it so much I cried. But then as my husband can attest to, I genuinely wailed out loud in the cinema when Ben asks Rey…well I don’t want to spoil it. I rewatch this film a lot just for the chemistry between those two, to be honest. And that fight scene.

10. Toffee apples – a book or film that seems one thing but really has a different inside.

I know I’ve already mentioned it but The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James absolutely hit me with a curve-ball. I went in thinking it a fluffy contemporary-like novel set in space. HAH. Damn was I wrong.

I tag Gaynor at Koop PaperbacksandPinot
Susan at NovelLives
Cora at TeaPartyPrincess 
Lois at Loisreadsbooks

If you haven’t been tagged and would like to do the tag anyway then go for it, consider yourself tagged!

book reviews, spoiler free

The Starlight Watchmaker review

44097002The Starlight Watchmaker by Lauren James

Rating: XXXXX

Published July 15th by Barrington Stoke

“Doesn’t it get tiring being judged for who you are all the time?” Ada asked, “and treated like you’re less than other people?”

Wealthy students from across the galaxy come to learn at the prestigious academy where Hugo toils as a watchmaker. But he is one of the lucky ones. Many androids like him are jobless and homeless. Someone like Dorian could never understand their struggle – or so Hugo thinks when the pompous duke comes banging at his door. But when Dorian’s broken time-travel watch leads them to discover a sinister scheme, the pair must reconcile their differences if they are to find the culprit in time.

A wildly imaginative sci-fi adventure from YA star Lauren James, particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 13+

At the Quiet at the End of the World event a few months back Lauren announced that she would be releasing a novella with Barrington Stoke later this year and as time went on we got a title, a cover reveal and synopsis for The Starlight Watchmaker which I’ve been excited for ever since.

I don’t normally go into much detail about publishers but I really wanted to rave about Barrington Stoke for a moment. They are a fantastic publisher who have been helping dyslexic and reluctant readers for over twenty years by working with writers and illustrators to publish super readable books as well as adding little adjustments like using a unique, dyslexia-friendly font specially created to make reading easier, Accessible layouts and spacing stop the page from becoming overcrowded and even Heavier paper with a gentle tint helps reduce visual stresses, their motto is every child can be a reader and I think reading can be so daunting for young children today that we need to do everything we can to create a space and opportunity for all readers, including those who might be reluctant or have difficulty reading for pleasure. I had read a couple of Non Pratt’s books published by Barrington Stoke previously and loved the shorter book format and just how effortless they felt to read which can be really motivating and confidence building.

I reached out to Barrington Stoke about Lauren’s new title and the lovely Kirstin sent me a proof to review in exchange for an honest review. At just 128 pages it is an extremely short read but oh the wonders Lauren can work with 128 pages. The Starlight Watchmaker is set in a universe that feels like magic and science, the academy that Dorian attends and Hugo works at is incredibly diverse, full of all kinds of sentient creatures from across the galaxy. It was absolutely refreshing to read all of these fantastic descriptions of different races and species, I was fascinated in particular with one of my favourite characters, a student like Dorian called Ada (Lady Ada de Winters – short for Adedeneumdora) who is essentially a mountain that can walk around and will eventually become a planet all of her own just like her mother, the planet Zumia. She’s well spoken, smart and fantastically quirky as well as being a brilliant departure from the usual humanoid looking alien lifeforms we usually see.

Hugo is an android and an absolute sweetheart who I love, he’s a hard worker making the best of a bad situation who enjoys what he does and is mostly content but finds himself yearning for more, things like friendship and freedom, not to mention he really likes plants. Our other main character, Dorian is a fifth-year student but also a Duke who comes to Hugo for help but comes across a little brusque at first and perhaps a bit to forward which could be misconstrued negatively but I think he really grows and learns over the course of the story and you learn more about him as well as Hugo and see how they react to each other.

Somehow, even in under 200 pages Lauren managed to fit a nice little twist into the story, the plot is simple but honestly all the more enjoyable for it, the narrative is fast flowing and straight forward but conveys every detail and emotion needed. This entire book is akin to a nice chilled glass of juice on a hot day or that feeling when you step out of your morning shower, it’s refreshing and soothing and the moment I finished it after reading it the first time I managed to put it down for five minutes before I decided to pick it back up and read it all over again. The story is well rounded and unlike with some short-form works where I find myself  wanting more in an unsatisfied way, I found The Starlight Watchmaker to be the perfect bite-size piece of cake, it felt complete and whole and I felt like I’d been on a journey after reading it which is why I read, to be whisked away on adventures and feel a better person at the other end. This is a beautiful tale of friendship and I cannot recommend it enough.

The Starlight Watchmaker will be available on July 15th, don’t let it’s smaller size fool you, it’s a fantastic little read and one that can definitely be enjoyed by a variety of ages.

#SixforSunday, spoiler free

S4S – Books Covers

Happy Sunday and welcome to the last Six for Sunday before returning to the scheduled prompts by Steph from A Little but a Lot! This week I decided to head back to the bookish prompts and picked an older prompt that I hadn’t done before, this one is Book Covers! Although I do agree with the age old saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” I’m insanely guilty of doing just this. A cover is often the first thing we see and even if not on purpose we tend to form an opinion at that moment even if it isn’t always a deciding factor. For me personally, a cover will usually draw me in, I’ll then check out the synopsis and if I’m still interested I tend to read the first page where possible or if online I check out spoiler-free reviews. Although no the be all and end all sign of a good book I do love a good cover and now you can check out six of my all time favourites.

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James
This cover is one of the most gorgeous things I’ve ever seen, Laurens books have such beautiful covers and for me, this is the book that started it all.

Vicious (Special collectors edition) by V.E Schwab
I held up from starting this series because I wanted this version so badly. It’s beautiful, features a built-in fabric bookmark, foiling under the dust jacket and is that perfect smaller hardback size that I adore. Not to mention that the art on the cover itself is a reference to Victor and his habit of defacing books, I love that if you look at it one way its just lines made with marker pens but at the right angle they are bones.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
I don’t think I know anyone out there who doesn’t love this cover or the sought after blue sprayed edges. The gold foiling and detail on the moth are astounding but for me, it’s the gorgeous galaxy like blue with what looks like stars and constellations running through them, it looks truly magical.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Screenplay by J.K Rowling
I adore a lot of Mina Lima’s graphic design work for the Harry Potter films and the artwork for the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Screenplay is no exception. There are so many little hidden details and flourishes over this cover it really draws you in while also capturing the style of the era well at the same time.

Lady Midnight (Waterstones special edition) by Cassandra Clare
Another harder to find one and although Waterstones have done special edition covers like this one for the rest of the Dark Artifices series and now the Red scrolls of Magic series too this first one will always be my favourite. The colour is a lovely shade of blue and the gold foil angelic runes are perfection.

Caraval by Stephanie Meyer
I love so many different aspects of Caraval. The shiny gold foiling (this seems to be a running theme with my favourites I’ve noticed) of the starburst kind of effect around the book title is eye-catching all on its own but pair it with the spine spilt into half black and half white and then the different hidden cover editions we got in the UK where under the dust jacket you would find one of a few different gold illustrations was just the icing on the top of the cake.

Do you have any particular book covers you like? Do you have anything that endears a cover to you like my (apparent) obsession with gold foiling? Tell me all about it!

 

book reviews, spoiler free

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe Review

32601841.jpgThe Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

Rating: XXXXX

Published September 7th 2017 by Walker Books

“Love takes so much energy, and it just leads to pain. I think it’s probably best for people to be self-sufficient. If I was strong enough to be independent, then I wouldn’t be so desperately lonely. I’m sure of it,”

Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away?

Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J.

Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love.

But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean?

Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone . . .

I stumbled across this beautiful book at YALC in 2017 on early sale at the Waterstones stand and although to me it looked like it was probably just a contemporary, maybe set in space? (I know contemporaries can be good too, I’m just not usually as interested in them). After I read the blurb I figured it was maybe a cross of Fangirl and the lake house somehow? Either way, I couldn’t say no to that shiny, sparkly cover. That and on behalf of Walker to celebrate the books release I’d just had a sparkly makeover so figured the least I could do was to check out the book they were promoting (and that sweet sweet cover). I had no idea that The Loneliest Girl would end up being one of my absolute favourite books. Two years later and now eagerly awaiting Lauren’s new book “The Quiet at the End of the World” which is out in early March, I decided to revisit the book that started it all for me, “The Loneliest Girl in the Universe.”

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The first time I read The Loneliest Girl I found out far too late that this book is a thriller. It starts off fluffy and light, very much in the vein of Fangirl, despite the darker sides to Romy’s backstory and her situation it feels like boy meets girl but are thousands beyond thousands of miles away from each other, cute emailing ensues etc. When I realised it was a thriller it was far too late to turn back, I was utterly hooked and terrified at the same time. I want to say that it’s different the second time around but to be honest it still pulls you in, lulls you into a false sense of security and makes you complacent so that when it really gets going you still feel like you’ve hit the floor at the bottom of the stairs when you were convinced there was one more step. This book is a wild ride that will not let you go, as the story goes on you recognise that feeling when you know something bad is going to happen but you can’t stop looking anyway and it is WORTH IT.

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Romy is a fantastic character, she’s realistic and relatable despite living her entire life on a spaceship she is wracked with anxiety and real fears and wants that just really hit a note with me and from having spoken to others who have read this she has the same effect on them as well. There are only a small number of characters in this book and I think in a lot of other books I might have found that boring but it works so well with The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, it adds to Romy’s isolation and you feel how important any kind of communication between the small number of characters really is and makes you appreciate them all the more which I imagine is the same case for Romy. This is one of my favourite aspects of the book because it really puts you in Romy’s shoes and heightens so much of the story.

The science is fantastic and fairly easy to wrap your head around instead of the pages of confusing words that don’t actually make sense together or sound ridiculous like you find in some Science Fiction books, strangely especially the adult ones… I now realise after having read Lauren’s other books that this is always a defining feature as well as featuring female scientists in prominent roles which gets a huge thumbs up from me! I actually found out after reading this book for the first time that it was inspired by a physics calculation Lauren was tasked with completing while at university! How cool is that?!

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If for some reason you haven’t checked this book out yet I highly recommend you do so, it’s only a short read and you can even buy a personalised and signed copy from Lauren’s Etsy store (it’s a dangerous place) there are pin badges and different versions of the books of which I now own all of…my personal favourite is the doodle in my US copy of a space cat because I like space. and cats. You get the idea. Don’t forget you can also preorder The Quiet at the end of the World, I just read the prologue and I HAVE CHILLS.

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