Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Thoughts and Discussion | Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

So, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child came out a few days ago and already there are reviews that are damning the play for various reasons. I was fortunate enough to go and see the play in June before the script was released as abook, which meant I got to see it first hand rather than reading it (thank you Hollie for getting the tickets!). And I have to say, I absolutely loved the play - the acting was the best I'd ever seen (especially Scorpius, Draco, Harry, Ron, and Hermione); the characters were on point; the stage direction and magic done onstage was astounding; and the music and special effects made the entire night magical. But, the one thing I thought while watching the play was 'This will absolutely not translate into a written book/script to read at all - people who read this will never want to go and see the play'. And it seems I was mostly right, which is very unfortunate.
Now, I was never a massive fan of reading plays anyway. I thought I hated Shakespeare for years throughout school because we'd only ever read the plays and I found them boring. However, when I went to see them at a Theatre or watched a film version of them, I found out how much I loved them. I think reading plays will never have the same impact as watching them - they're basically all the dialogue of a book but with very little description, so they don't translate well as written word. Plays should never be purely read as I think half of it is lost.
I agree with what many people are saying about The Cursed Child: it's a bit clichĂ©, it reads a bit like fanfiction, some of the characters are different to how they were in the books, and most of all I don't believe for a second that one of the things in the play could have happened at all. In spite of this, the play is still a wonderful masterpiece to see and I highly recommend seeing regardless of how you felt about the script of The Cursed Child. It's an experience that can't be felt through the pages of the script and it's worth being there for the atmosphere of having hundreds of Potter fans in one room seeing something new in the fandom. That being said I'm aware of how difficult it is to get tickets, but if you get the chance then take it!
I mostly wanted to put this out to counteract (slightly) the awful reviews the book has been getting, and also to give some advice to those people who intend to watch the play, I recommend not reading this until after you've seen the play as I think you'll find the experience more enjoyable and not tainted with the views you might have on the script (not something I ever thought I'd say as I'm a big proclaimer of reading a book before a movie!). Anyway, I've had my say! Let me know what you guys think about the script or play if you've seen it and what you think!

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Tome Topple Read-a-Thon

So next week I've decided to participate in the Tome Topple Read-a-Thon, created and hosted by @thoughtsontomes (also on Youtube). To see the original video announcement you can click here!

The Read-a-Thon will take place between June 6 - June 19 and the idea for this read-a-thon is to get through as many tomes (a tome being any book over 500 pages) as possible. There are so many Read-a-Thons dedicated to reading as many books as possible, so it's nice to see one dedicated to reading as many pages of a larger book as possible instead!
There are also optional challenges to participate in: 
  1. Read more than one tome
  2. Take a graphic novel break
  3. Read a tome that is part of a series
  4. Read 500+ pages in one week
  5. Read an adult novel

My aim is to read:
1. The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
2. Tatiana & Alexander by Paullina Simons
3. Saga: Volume 1 (re-read) by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
4. Saga: Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

If I complete all of the books mentioned above then I will have completed all five of the above-mentioned challenges! However, as I'm working full time and will soon have a shorter commute to read on, I'm not sure how much I'll manage here, but we'll see how it goes! Good luck to everyone participating!

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Life Update | Where I've Been and Returning to Blogging

Hi all! It happened again ... I've had such a busy couple of months that my blog has rather fallen behind. I'm hoping to have more time on my hands soon so I'll be able to blog more and do more book reviews (and catch up on all the book reviews I've been meaning to do!).
I've had a rather hectic year overall, mostly because I've been doing a 2 hour (each way) commute from London to Oxford for my job. Although this has given me tons of time for reading, I've found it harder to motivate myself to keep blogging as much. However, I've just handed my notice in because I've found a new job just 20 minutes from where I live! Huzzah! I'll still be working in publishing in the same role, but I'm very happy about the shortened commute. This will definitely give me more time for this website. I start my new job next month so hopefully, from then on, I'll be posting on here a lot more frequently.
I'm very excited about so many of the books I've read over the past three months (which you can see here) and I can't wait to share my thoughts with you guys. I'll hopefully be doing a review of The Historian soon and then a more general catch up on the best books I've read in the first half of this year. 
I'm hoping I'll be back to posting more frequently for good, so let me know in the comments if there's anything you want to see more of on here, or any tags you'd like me to do. Thank you for all your continued support and comments!

I'm very glad to be back on here again. I'll post again soon (promise!) 

My: Goodreads, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram: sathomas61
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Monday, 25 April 2016

BOOK REVIEW | Winter by Marissa Meyer

Genre: Young Adult
My Rating: ★★★★★
Goodreads Summary:
Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

**Spoiler Free Review**

This book was simply brilliant. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this book, Winter is the further and final book in the Lunar Chronicles series; the first being Cinder. This set of books are retellings of different fairy tales but with a sci-fi twist to them.
I won't say much about the plot because I don't want to spoil anyone, but I will say that one of my favourite things about this book was definitely the characters development and interactions. In Cress I found Cress to be rather predictable and boring, but in this book she developed exponentially, and I loved her. Thorne also quickly became one of favourite characters and I couldn't have been rooting for these characters more. I enjoyed the previous books but this tied them all up so beautifully that it made me love them all so much more.

The entire series is spectacular and the fairytale elements were incredibly interwoven in with the story. The friendships between the male characters and female characters was just lovely; I love that there was no angst and that the female characters could actually be friends without all the jealousy and pettiness that is so often seen in YA literature. Not only this, but all eight main characters are so unbelievably unique. It's hard to write characters so that they don't blend into one another but Meyer does it seamlessly. The book also has a very realistic villain and the exploration Luna made the story so much better.
I could gush more about this book but I think that's probably enough for now! If you think you might be interested then definitely pick up Cinder and give it read; the series gets so much better as it goes on.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Book of the Month and Reading Wrap-Up | February 2016 (Very Late!)

I read some fantastic books last month, many of which I'd been meaning to get around to for a while. I'm very happy with how much I managed to read this month - a whopping 15 books -  and a few were quite long books. This was a very tough call to choose my favourite this month as I read some amazing books, but the winner should really come as no surprise...

1. Bridge of Snow by Marie Rutkoski 
2. Stray by Rachel Vincent 
3. Rogue by Rachel Vincent ★.5
4. Pride by Rachel Vincent 
5. Prey by Rachel Vincent ★.5
6. Shift by Rachel Vincent 
7. Alpha by Rachel Vincent 
8. Hunt by Rachel Vincent 
9. Night of the Living Dummy by R. L. Stine 
10. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell 
11. Flawed by Cecelia Ahern ★.75
12. After Impact by Nicole Stark  ★.25
13. The Lost and the Found by Cat Clarke 
14. The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson 
15. The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

Some of these books already have review written for them and to read those just click on the books above.

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson!
(#1 Mistborn Trilogy)

**Spoiler-Free Review!**

It's taken me a long time to get around to this trilogy. I'd heard wonderful things about it and I adore high fantasy, so a few weeks ago I finally decided it was time to pick it up. I could not be happier that I did. I had read Steelheart last year and loved Sanderson's writing. It is beautiful and fantastic, and in this book he creates one of the most complex yet stunning fantasy worlds I've ever read about. The characters are all so realistic and fleshed out; I was in love with the from the start. Vin, Kelsier, and the crew are all wonderful people with very real emotions and wants.

I have to say that I think this series gets better with every book. Sanderson is also my number one fantasy author who can write the best twists into novels. I have never known a fantasy to have so many twists in it that I never see coming (I always think I know what the twist is until the very end). 

The magic system is also one of the most interesting and unique concepts I've ever read about. When people had told me about it before I wasn't sure what to expect, but it works so unbelievably well. I highly, highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys high fantasy. Don't be intimidated by the size of these books; you'll fly through them! 

I could gush forever about this book but I think that's probably enough for now! Let me know if you've read this book and whether you enjoyed it or not!

I could have picked so many books that I read this month for both the winner and runner-up but this month the runner-up is: 

 The Lost and the Found by Cat Clarke 

I hasn't heard anything about this book before, but my fiancée bought me it as a present not too long ago and the plot sounded right up street. This is a book about a girl who's sister was kidnapped and found 13 years later. It's follows the family and their readjustment to life after this. I love books like this. It was very, very deep for a YA book and I will say there is a trigger warning for abuse and rape (although nothing explicit is discussed, it's a very prominent theme).

The book was heart-wrenching and beautiful, and although I partly guessed the ending, it went it a direction I didn't quite expect at the very end. This book is unique as a YA as, although there is a very slight hint of romance in it, it is mostly about families and the bond between siblings. It was powerfully written and never before has the final paragraph of a book affected me so much. That final section made this book for me. I will definitely be reading more by Cat Clarke as I think she is a brilliant writer. More people need to read this book. 

Those are my February books that I read. Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Top Five Wednesday | Fictional Items You Want

This week's Top Five Wednesday is fictional items I want. There are so many objects in books that I'd love to have so it was hard to narrow it down to five. I also cheated slightly as I took two from Harry Potter (but it does have some of the most awesome items in all fiction).

1. A Wand (Harry Potter)
I think this one is rather self-explanatory and will be on a few peoples' lists. Who doesn't want to be able to do magic?

2. Broomstick (Harry Potter)
Again, this is another fairly obvious one from Harry Potter. I would love to be able to hop onto a broom and fly to where I needed to be - it was also save me a lot of money on public transport!

3. A Mistcloak (Mistborn Trilogy)
I know that this cloak doesn't have any powers or do anything special but it sounds beautiful and I would love on anyway. It would make me feel list a Mistborn.

4. The Rings (The Magician's Nephew)
These rings would be a blessing and a curse; I'd love to use them to travel to other worlds and see Narnia or any other place. But there is always the risk of releasing someone like Jadis into another peaceful world!

5. A Pandora (Fire & Flood)

I am counting this as a fictional item since they start off as eggs, and I would love a creature like this to protect me. I adore the idea of pandoras in this series!

Let me know what your Top Five are below, or if you have a blog post then link it! Just in case anyone is new to this, Top Five Wednesday was created by Lainey (Gingerreadslainey on YouTube), so that people can share more of their favourite (or sometimes least favourite) books in an interesting way. She creates weekly topics for each month so Bloggers and YouTubers alike to discuss books. The group which lists the monthly topics can be found here! And if you want to see more of my previous Top Five Wednesday Blog posts, you can click here!

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Top Five Wednesday | Books That Feature Time Travel

This week's Top Five Wednesday is books that feature time travel. At first, when I read this topic I thought it would be an easy one to find books for as I love time travel novels. However, I soon realised I hadn't read quite so many time travel novels as I'd thought, so this was a tough one. Despite that, these are all books I absolutely adore and I've not had a chance to talk about some of them before!

1. 11.22.63 by Stephen King
I read this book for the first time last year and I already want to re-read it. It's about a time period I'm very interested in and I love that the story doesn't bog itself down in the technical side of time travel. This book follows a man who ends up travelling back in time to stop the assassination of John F. Kennedy, but it also explores the life that he ends up living in the past. I also adore the intertextuality of his other works within this book - such as the fictional town of Derry and its clown, from IT, appearing.

2. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
I haven't read this book since 2012, so it's been a while, but I remember finding it such a fascinating book with such a unique concept of time travel. It was also a very powerful story that ended up moving me to tears because of how heart-wrenching it was. A beautiful book that I highly recommend picking up. (As a side note, the movie does not do this book justice at all - I found it to be a very poor representation of the book so don't be put off by the movie if you didn't like it!)

3. Gideon the Cutpurse by Linda Buckley-Archer
My mum first bought me this book when I was around 12 and I completely fell in love with the story. It's a children's book but it definitely has readability for adults so don't let that put you off. The novel focuses on two children called Peter and Kate and their accidental transportation to the year 1763 where they meet a cutpurse named Gideon. The novel gives such an accurate representation of the time period and the characters are all so believable and likeable. This is another book I need to re-read soon.

4. City of Stars by Mary Hoffman
I am cheating slightly with this one as it's not exactly time travel, but travel to the past of a parallel world. These two books are definitely my favourites of the series. The entire world and concept is incredibly unique and it deals with very serious topics despite being for young adults/children. I adore this series. It is also possible to read any book in this series without reading the book before as they are more of a companion series than following on from one another.n

5. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
I talked about this book in a recent top five Wednesday so I won't say too much more about this book other than it is fantastic, and if you haven't read it then I highly recommend it! There's also a Tim Burton movie of this book coming out this year!

That was my top five books that feature time travel! Let me know what you think below and if you did a Top Five Wednesday too then link it below so I can check it out. I'd love to get some recommendations of other time travel books from people!

Just in case anyone is new to this, Top Five Wednesday was created by Lainey (Gingerreadslainey on YouTube), so that people can share more of their favourite (or sometimes least favourite) books in an interesting way. She creates weekly topics for each month so Bloggers and YouTubers alike to discuss books. The group which lists the monthly topics can be found here! And if you want to see more of my previous Top Five Wednesday Blog posts, you can click here!

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Top Five Wednesday | Biggest Book Hangovers

This week's Top Five Wednesday is biggest book hangovers. We've all had these and they are not pleasant (or maybe they are?). Being so invested in a book/series that you find it difficult to pick another book to read - either because you don't think it will compare to the last book you read, or because you don't want to think about anything but that one book. I can definitely think of a few for this a couple definitely won't be a surprise.

1. Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling
This is probably top for a lot of people, but I had to say it because nothing sends me into a book hangover like Harry Potter. It was probably the first book hangover I ever had. I remember finishing the complete series and just being sat in front of my book shelf for about an hour trying to decide what to read next and, in the end, I just decided to re-read Harry Potter again...

2. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
I read this book a couple of years ago and, after finishing, I just couldn't get the story or characters out of my head. I wanted more books like this as I'd never read anything like it before. So much geekiness, video game references and sci-fi in one book. Fantastic.
3. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
This book gave me a book hangover for an entirely different reason to the other two I've mentioned. This book is absolutely amazing and also extremely haunting. I couldn't stop thinking about the ending of this book and the powerful message in its pages. I ended up watching the film straight after reading it so I could keep it in my head. I definitely need to re-read this at some point!
4. Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
This was the first Brandon Sanderson book I'd ever read and it made me see exactly what the hype was about with this author. I have since started the Mistborn Trilogy (which is equally amazing), but Steelheart really gave me a book hangover when I read it. I immediately read the short story which followed this; the characters were so amazing and I needed to know more about them. He also writes the most incredible plot twists I have ever read that shock and stay with you long after you put the book down.

5. The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas
Oddly enough, it wasn't any book in the Throne of Glass series which gave me a book hangover, but the four novellas in The Assassin's Blade. The reason this set of novellas is on my list is because I've never ever been so affected by short prequel stories in my life before this. Even though I knew for certain what would happen in these books, having been made aware in the Throne of Glass books, I was still in shock at the end of the book. This genuinely left me a weeping mess as I felt so emotionally connected to characters I should have barely known. This book and her ability to write such characters filled with depth shows how amazing a writer Sarah J. Maas is. I would suggest reading the Throne of Glass series for this book alone.

Those were my Top Five Biggest Book Hangovers! Let me know what you think or what yours are below! Also feel free to link your own Top Five Wednesday below so I can check it out.

Just in case anyone is new to this, Top Five Wednesday was created by Lainey (Gingerreadslainey on YouTube), so that people can share more of their favourite (or sometimes least favourite) books in an interesting way. She creates weekly topics for each month so Bloggers and YouTubers alike to discuss books. The group which lists the monthly topics can be found here! And if you want to see more of my previous Top Five Wednesday Blog posts, you can click here!

Monday, 29 February 2016

BOOK REVIEW | The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski (#3)

Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy

Publication Date: 24th March 2016
My Rating: ★★★★★
Goodreads Summary:
War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

**No Spoilers**

I received a copy of this book from the Bloomsbury Publishing, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. I read the first two books in this trilogy earlier this year and found them to be wonderful fantasy novels, full of political intrigue, and fascinating and complex characters. They reminded me of a YA version of Game of Thrones. I often don't have high hopes for the final instalments of trilogies as I have found them to be let-downs in the past; however, this book was a brilliant finale to this trilogy and I absolutely loved it.

I won't go into too much detail as I don't want to spoil it, but I loved the direction this book went in. I didn't see any of it coming and found it to be extremely refreshing. I actually found myself enjoying the main relationship more this book as it didn't have any of the angst of the previous book and many things were finally revealed. Kestrel and Arin both developed so much as characters throughout this trilogy and the final book really does them both justice. They both end up doing things that neither would have done in the first book and it's great to see such development in only three books.

The relationship between Arin and Roshar definitely has to be one of my favourites, and Roshar himself ended up becoming one of my favourite characters of the whole series which surprised me. He is funny, rude, and spoilt, yet is extremely loyal and likeable. Rutkoski does a fantastic job of writing such complex, and very human, characters. I found myself really hating some of the characters in this book (which the reader was supposed to!), and I felt the frustration of these characters through Kestrel so much. There was only one this I disliked in this book and it was the use of memory loss - it just felt like it was used as a way of moving the story along and I felt the book could have been equally good without it.

The ending was epic and fantastic. It was so fast-paced that I ended up reading the last 70 pages in a very short time. I didn't see the twist coming at all and found it to be such a satisfying conclusion. I loved how each characters storyline's ended up, especially Verex's, and all of the loose ends I wanted to be tied up were.

Overall, I absolutely loved this trilogy and the final book was definitely the best for me. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys fantasy books. This trilogy isn't very long but it contains so much. An easy 5 stars to give.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Top Five Wednesday | Worst Love Interests (male or female)

This week's Top Five Wednesday is worst love interests (male or female). I'm not going to lie, I found this one quite a difficult topic. I'm often quite happy with the love interest the author gives the main character/side character and it's infrequent that I go against the grain with this. However, I managed to think of a few where I just couldn't understand the love interest at all.

1. Wesley Rush - The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend
Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed this book, but my only issue with it was that the main character seemed very strong and independent to begin with but she ended up falling rather flat in some ways, and I attribute this to the love interest. To be honest, I'm a bit fed up of books where the main female character falls for the 'bad boy' that just needs to learn how to change. Life isn't like that and guys who are willing to call you ugly and fat every day are not worth anyone's time; it just really bothered me that Bianca still falls for someone who verbally and mentally abuses her when she's already gone through so much.

2. Jacob - The Twilight Saga
When I first read the first couple of books in the Twilight saga I remember liking Jacob a lot and thinking that he was good for Bella, etc. It was only when he forced himself one her and later used blackmail to get her kiss him that my blood really began to boil. Not that Edward is realistically a great love interest, but out of the two, Jacob really bothers me.

3. Perry/Aria - Under the Never Sky Trilogy
I was a bit underwhelmed by this trilogy and the two main characters didn't really help. I found them both to be a bit dull and neither really grabbed my attention. Ultimately I just found them to be the same as many other YA couples, with nothing new about them.

4. Lola Nolan - Lola and the Boy Next Door
I loved this companion trilogy, but I definitely found the second book to be my least favourite. Although still enjoyable, I just didn't really like the character of Lola, or her love interest. I couldn't relate to her and just found their romance to be underwhelming compared to the couples in the first and last books.

5. Art Crevan - Flawed
I know this book hasn't yet been released, but I read an advance copy recently and found the main/initial love interest to be rather underdeveloped and just lacking in any character. This is mostly because he speaks to the main character approximately 4 times throughout the book and the relationship just doesn't feel established. I know it's still the first book in a series though so I imagine he could get better.

These are my Top Five! Let me know what yours are below, or if you did a Top Five Wednesday then feel free to link it below!

Just in case anyone is new to this, Top Five Wednesday was created by Lainey (Gingerreadslainey on YouTube), so that people can share more of their favourite (or sometimes least favourite) books in an interesting way. She creates weekly topics for each month so Bloggers and YouTubers alike to discuss books. The group which lists the monthly topics can be found here! And if you want to see more of my previous Top Five Wednesday Blog posts, you can click here!