Wednesday, June 28

Review: The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale
Margaret Atwood

Published By: Vintage Books
Publication Date: July 5, 2007 (Originally published 1985)
Date Read: May 28, 2017
Genre: Adult - Dystopia
Source: Bought
Format: Paperback
Pages: 324
From Goodreads:
Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now...

This is possibly the hardest review I've ever had to write. The Handmaid's Tale is such a classic book and one that I have been curious about for such a long time. It's classed as one of the original dystopia novels and I am such a big loved of dystopia. I finally decided to read The Handmaid's Tale after the new television adaptation starting. This was without a doubt the strangest book I think I have ever read. It is such a bizarre story.

Rates of fertility have been decreasing for years and now almost all women are barren. Those who have been found to be fertile are taken and made to become Handmaiden to the ruling class of the Republic of Gilead. Offred is one of those handmaiden's. Her job is to walk to the food markets and like on her back hoping that the commander will make her pregnant. But Offred can remember before. When she lived with her loving husband and beautiful daughter...

The Handmaid's Tale was just utterly bizarre. It wasn't even just the story, which FYI I found the most weird dystopia story I have ever come across. I just didn't get it. And the writing just didn't grab me. Honestly it was such a struggle to get through this book. I was bored through the majority of it and I don't really know what it was that kept me reading but I did indeed finish it. It was just utterly bizarre.

Honestly, I didn't really enjoy this book. I didn't associate with the characters, I wasn't taken by the story and I certainly wasn't emotionally invested in this novel as I usually am in novels. It was just so strange. I understand that this is such a well-loved book but I just didn't like it all that much. I felt rather indifferent. I could have stopped reading and I wouldn't have been wondering about what happened at all. I didn't feel like I got any answers from the ending either. I was left with a feeling of 'well why did I bother continuing'.

I really wanted to love this book. So many people do and I really wish I was one of them but it just wasn't. I just didn't click with this book at all.

Wednesday, June 21

Review: Wintersong (Wintersong #1)

Wintersong (Wintersong #1)
S. Jae Jones

Published By: Titan Books
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Date Read: May 27, 2017
Genre: YA - Fantasy
Source: Illumicrate
Format: Paperback
Pages: 508

From Goodreads:
Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

"Love is the bridge that spans the world above and below, and keeps the wheel of life turning."

Wintersong is a book that had been on my radar for a while. I thought it sounded like somrthing I would totally love and I was so happy when it was featured in one of the Illumicrate subscription boxes. Wintersong is a young adult fantasy novel that is inspired by the tales of the Goblin King, and it is heavily influenced by the movie Labyrinth. I absolutely adore that movie so I knew this book would be something I would really enjoy.

Wintersong is the story of Elizabeth, whom everyone calls Liesl. She has believed in the Goblin King since before she can remember. Every piece of music she has ever composed she has done so thinking of the dreamy Goblin King. When her sister is taken into the Underground, Liesl follows her and she will do everything possible to save her sister.

I really loved Elizabeth in this book. She goes through such a massive journey in this book. She starts as Liesl the young girl who sacrifices everything for her family to Elizabeth the woman who knows what she wants in life and will do everything in her power to get it. It's such an amazing journey that she goes through in this book and I loved experiencing that throughout the novel with her.

Wintersong is such a fantastic novel. It's packed to the brim with action and adventure with just the right amount of romance. I loved every single moment of it and I couldn't read it fast enough. I was dying to see what was going to happen with the characters. S Jae Jones has such an amazing writing style. My attention was grabbed right from the very start and I couldn't stop reading. It's wrote so expertly it's hard to believe that this gem of a book was her debut.

Wintersong is a fantastic start to what I know will be a phenomenal fantasy series. I loved every moment of it and I cannot wait to read the next book. It's going to be amazing. If you're looking for a new book that will devour your heart then look no further. Wintersong is a beautiful, amazing novel that is filled with music and magic. A must-read.

"You asked, I answered. The answer is you. What I want is you - entire."

Wednesday, June 14

Review: The Beauty and the Beast

The Beauty and the Beast
Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve

Published By: Harper Design
Publication Date: January 31, 2017 (Deluxe Edition)
Original Publication Date: 1740
Date Read: May 15, 2017
Genre: Classic - Fairytale
Source: Bought
Format: Hardback
Pages: 208
From Goodreads:
MinaLima, the award-winning design studio behind the graphics for the Harry Potter film franchise and the creators of the illustrated Jungle Book and Peter Pan, reimagine the beloved French fairy tale The Beauty and the Beast in this deluxe unabridged edition illustrated with stunning full-color artwork and nine 3-D interactive features—published to coincide with the release of the blockbuster Disney live-action musical film starring Emma Watson, Ian McKellen, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, and Emma Thompson.

Generations of readers have been bewitched by the epic love story of a beautiful young girl imprisoned in the magical castle of a monstrous beast. Now, the classic fairy tale is brought to life in this spectacular illustrated edition as originally envisioned by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve in 1740.

It is no surprise to anyone my love for the fairytale Beauty and the Beast. The original Disney animated movie came out the year I was born and I grew up loving it. One of my amazing friends gifted my this unabridged illustrated deluxe edition of the original The Beauty and the Beast fairytale for my birthday and I realised that as much as I adored this tale, I had never actually read the original. I loved The Beauty and the Beast so much and I loved reading the original and seeing where the tale we all know and love originated from.

The Beauty and the Beast is so vastly different from the well known Disney classic that we all know of today. Of course we have the similarities. The importance of a rose in the story, the story of a selfless girl falling in love with a hideous beast, but the rest of the events in this book you would never have guessed would belong in this beloved tale. I am not going to go into it as I want you all to go and read this for yourselves.

The Beauty and the Beast was originally published in 1740 and was then modified and re-released by someone else. I can totally understand why this edition was modified. I loved every moment but found myself really surprised that the ending we all know happened only half way through the book. You get so much more information such as the backstories of both Beauty and the Beast. These bits honestly I found a little tedious and boring. They went on for so long. They certainly weren't needed and it was definitely the right decision to re-release the book without these parts to make the story flow better.

It was such an amazing read to see where this incredible story originated from. I couldn't believe just how different it was and I really recommend any Beauty and the Beast fan to go and read this unabridged version. You won't really know what's going to happen due to the changes that were made after the release of this wonderful tale. I loved every moment of it and I absolutely plan on getting the other MinaLima fairytale books to experience. Their illustrations and interactive elements made this book all the more beautiful, special and magical. It's a definite must-read and necessary for any book collection.

Wednesday, June 7

Review: A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls 
Patrick Ness

Published By: Walker Books
Publication Date: May 5, 2011
Date Read: May 13, 2017
Genre: Middle Grade - Fantasy
Source: Bought
Format: Paperback
Pages: 237
From Goodreads:
The bestselling novel about love, loss and hope from the twice Carnegie Medal-winning Patrick Ness.

Conor has the same dream every night, ever since his mother first fell ill, ever since she started the treatments that don't quite seem to be working. But tonight is different. Tonight, when he wakes, there's a visitor at his window. It's ancient, elemental, a force of nature. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.

Patrick Ness takes the final idea of the late, award-winning writer Siobhan Dowd and weaves an extraordinary and heartbreaking tale of mischief, healing and above all, the courage it takes to survive.

"Stories are wild creatures. When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?"

A Monster Calls is a book that has been on my shelf and I've been wondering for well over a year now whether to actually read this book or not. I am not such a huge Patrick Ness fan to be honest. I know, I know, don't start throwing things at me. I tried to read his Chaos Walking series and it was a really weird book for me. I started off enjoying it and then grew really really bored of it. Because of this I was incredibly hesitant to pick up this book and to be honest I only did because I am challeging myself to read all of the books that are features as Zoella book club reads and this was one of them. Honestly, I shouldn't have been hesitant to pick up this book because it was absolutely stunning. I read it in one sitting and couldn't put it down.

Conor is our main protagonist. A 13 year old boy whose mother is gravely ill and her treatments don't seem to be working. He is used to being the boy that all the other kids look at with pity. He's the boy with the ill and bald mother. He does everything for his mother and dreams of the day when the treatments will work and she will be okay. At night Conor starts getting visits from a monster each night and it wants the one thing Conor is the most scared of to tell. It wants the truth.

I absolutely adored this book. It is such a beautiful, heartfelt and heartbreaking book. It made me feel so many things and while I felt like something terrible was going to happen in the end and I was totally dreading it, at the same time I couldn't put the book down. Patrick totally drew me in with his wonderful story telling. I loved every single moment of it.

A Monster Calls is beautiful, real and utterly heartbreaking. I haven't read a book that made me sob so hard in a long long time. In fact, I don't think a book has ever made me sob that much... apart from Malorie Blackman's Noughts and Crosses maybe (man that book is a heartbreaker). At one point I had to stop reading for a minute or two as I couldn't see the page my tears were coming so hard and fast. I was utterly broken. But at the same time the book is such a beautiful story of facing the horrible and looking to the future and healing from the worst thing you could ever imagine happening to you.

If you're a fan of Patrick Ness books this is a definite must-read for you. If you're not I urge you to give it a go anyway. I'm not entirely sure if I will pick up another book by him. I'm not ruling it out but I'm unsure if they are something that I want to read, but I am so so glad that I gave this gorgeous gem of a book a chance. It was stunning, moving and beautiful. A must-read for anyone and everyone of all ages.

"You do not write your life with words...You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you DO."

Friday, June 2

Wrap Up: May 2017

Hey Guys,
I can't believe that it is June already. May was a pretty good reading month for me this month.

Book Haul:

Windfall by Jennifer E Smith
The Last Piece of My Heart by Paige Toon
Truth or Dare by Non Pratt
The Waking Land (Waking Land #1) by Callie Bates
The Beauty and the Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villenue (MinaLima Edition)


This month was an Illlumicrate box month and below is the picture of all the goodies I got. It includes two of the books pictures above along with lots of other amazing stuff.

Books Read in May 2017:

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness - 5 Stars
The Beauty and the Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villenueve - 4 Stars
Wintersong (Winterson #1) by S Jae Jones - 5 Stars
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood - 2 Stars
The Falconer (The Falconer #1) by Elizabeth May - 5 Stars *Re-Read*

Reviews Posted in May 2017:

2017 Challenges Update:

This year I am challenging myself to:
  • The Totally Doable 2017 Reading Challenge
  • The 2017 Debut Author Challenge
  • The 2017 'Continue a Series' Challenge
  • The Zoella Book Club Challenge
The Totally Doable 2017 Reading Challenge

I am so happy with my progress in this challenge so far this year. Like last month rather than selecting books for the categories I just read what I wanted and then saw if any of them fit.

This month I read:

The Beauty and the Beast (A book with red on the cover)
The Handmaid's Tale (Read something outside of your reading comfort zone)

Challenge Total: 10/12

 The 2017 Debut Author Challenge

This month I read Wintersong by S Jae Jones. 

Challenge Total: 2/5

The 2017 'Continue a Series' Challenge

Although I haven't read a book towards this challenge this month, I did choose my next series, and re-read the first book ready to complete it. I will be reading this coming month the rest of The Falconer Series by Elizabeth May.
Challenge Update: 2/5

The Zoella Book Club Challenge
 This month I read A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.

Challenge Update: 6/16
Top 3 Books of May 2017:

What did you read this month?