www wednesday: january 9th 2019

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Welcome to WWW Wednesday, a weekly bookish meme host by Sam @ Taking On The World Of Words, where I will speak about my reading plans for this week!

I haven’t done one of these in a long time but the new year is the best time to start fresh 🙂


The Three W’s are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

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The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

I’ve set myself a goal for the new year to try and read as many Brandon Sanderson books as I can manage, and I’m starting strong with The Way of Kings. I’m only a handful of pages with a long way to go but I already enjoy how Sanderson writes. I can see why people enjoy his books and fantasy worlds so much. I’m super excited to see exactly where this book goes as I know very little.


What did you recently finish reading?

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The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burges

So The Twisted Tree was a super short novella I received as an ARC from Netgalley. It’s a mixture of Nordic mythology mixed with a supernatural thriller so expect suspense and drama and violence and a lot of Odin. There will be a review by the end of the week (fingers crossed I keep to my own schedule…) but as a preview – I did enjoy it but it was a bit of a mixed bag.

Nothing But The Truth by Dick Lehr

I received this as an ARC from Walker Books and it was definitely an enjoyable read. Super easy, I sped right through it. Dick Lehr’s writing style was somewhat basic, however, take that as you will. My review of Nothing But The Truth is already up!


What do you think you’ll read next?

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Outside by Sarah Ann Juckes

A friend at work gave this book to read after she’d finished. I had never heard of it until she handed it over, but reading the synopsis I’m honestly really intrigued. I want to know so many things!!! This is quite a short book too (less than 300 pages) so it will be a fast read as well.

The Girl King by Mimi Yu

I received this book as an ARC through Netgalley and, despite the mixed reviews I’ve read, I am super interested in giving it a try. Hopefully, it’s a book I’ll enjoy because I do like Asian inspired stories and I want to read more diverse reads this year.


What book are you reading now? What do you plan on reading next?
Tell me in the comments!


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top 5 tuesday: books I need to read in 2019

top 5 tuesday

Top Five Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the lovely Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm where bookworms get to chat about their top five books based on different topics.

A new feature for the new year! This week’s topic is ‘books I need to read in 2019’.


Renegades by Marissa Meyers

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I’ve never read a Marissa Meyer’s book but I’ve heard great things about this series! I got this as a Christmas gift so I have no excuse not to pick it up!


Vicious by V. E. Schwab

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Okay so this has been on my TBR for a very long time and yet I haven’t picked it up (don’t judge me pls). Last year, I got my hands on the pretty hardcover reprint along with the matching Vengeful (which was signed !!!!) so it’s a goal this year to read both.


Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

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I wanted to read this before the movie came out, and then I forgot. I wanted to read it when the movie came out and I forgot. I got this for Christmas and I will not forget to read it this year!!!


Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

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I have been meaning to read Brandon Sanderson since forever but I’ve always been stupidly intimidated by them. Not this year!!!


On The Come Up by Angie Thomas

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I adored The Hate U Give, was my favourite book of 2017 hands down, and now I find out that Angie Thomas is writing another book ????? You got me.


Phew….it was a lot harder to narrow the list down to five than I originally thought. It turns out I have a lot of things I’m looking forward to reading in 2019.

What’s on your must-read in 2019 list? Do we share any? Have you read any of the books above and want to urge me to read them ASAP? Leave me a message in the comments!


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review: nothing but the truth by dick lehr

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Title: Nothing But The Truth

Author: Dick Lehr

Publisher: Walker Books

Release Date: January 3rd 2019

Pages: 336

Rating:

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Nothing But The Truth follows fourteen-year-old Van Trell Taylor on her quest to clear her father’s name after he was tried and imprisoned for the murder of a young girl when Trell was a baby. This is based off a true story and a true crime that Dick Lehr helped to bring to the public attention when he worked for the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team.

Dick Lehr’s experience is clear in the details of the story. Both the specifics of reporting and the legality of trying to get someone’s sentence overturned is shown clearly from the beginning of the book. It was something I enjoyed quite a bit whilst reading this book.

Lehr’s writing style is easy to read and therefore quick – I read about 100 pages in one sitting when I first started reading and then finished the rest in another. Interest in seeing how the story will develop added to this ease and keeps you reading.

I enjoyed the characters in Nothing But The Truth. Whether they were main or side characters, they each have their own story, own perspectives of one event and Lehr does successfully manage to tell each one throughout the course of this book. Trell reacts to each one – they help build her understanding and perspective of her life now and of the crime itself.

Trell herself was an engaging character – she was sympathetic to read about and empathetic to those she encountered in the story. She is single-minded in her determination to free her father and I found that helped carry me through the story – I wanted her to succeed and for her to finally get her dad home. I also enjoyed her relationship with Clemons, the reporter, and how they interacted in an almost father-daughter way as they investigated and uncovered evidence for their big story. Nora, the hardass young lawyer, was an awesome character, although I do wish there was more said about her across the book.

I had some issues with Trell’s voice. She is a fourteen-year-old girl but doesn’t sound like one. Most of the time she read as any other main character in a YA novel, but there were points where she sounded so much older (when she referred to her enjoyment of running as a “work out”) and others a lot younger (when she called an informer a “tattletale”). It isn’t a major thing, it didn’t stop me from completing or being entertained by how the story unfolds but when it did occur, it did draw me from the overall narrative.

Although I am aware that this is Dick Lehr’s first young adult book and he is not a fourteen-year-old girl, so I can’t hold it against him.

The only other issue I found was how lenient Trell’s mother was about letting her run around with a reporter in places that the story says are dangerous, with gang violence and shootings and drug misuse. I feel like the story would have benefited if Trell was a little older and if she was doing this with a lot more conflict with her parents, as they don’t want anything to happen to her.

Overall though, I did enjoy Nothing But The Truth. It was difficult to put down because I wanted to know how the story ended and was a very easy read despite the topic. It is an important book that raises questions about the American legal systems view of finality and the concept of guilt, as well as showing the effect that can ripple through the lives of many people. It also raised my awareness of horrible crime, another person who was wrongly convicted and a little girl who sadly died.

It is a book about injustice from a different perspective, aimed towards a younger audience that tells an important story. I would like to read Dick Lehr’s next young adult book and see how he develops his writing in this genre!


Have you read Nothing But The Truth? What did you think? If you haven’t, has this review made you want to pick the book up or not? Let me know what you think in the comments!


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review: the watchmaker of filigree street by natasha pulley

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Title: The Watchmaker of Filigree Street

Author: Natasha Pulley

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Release Date: July 14th 2015

Page: 318

Rating:

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Disclaimer: I was incredibly lucky to meet and work with Natasha Pulley. She was my guest tutor during my MA in Creative Writing. I have been meaning to read her books for a long time and finally managed it by the end of this year. All opinions on this book are my own.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street follows three characters – Thaniel, Keita and Grace – in their intersecting story revolving around the historical events of Irish nationalist bombings in London. It is historical fiction, steampunk and fantasy in an urban setting and Pulley managed to successfully marry these different genres together in an engaging way.

Pulley’s writing is very wordy, descriptive and emotive. It does make it a dense read in places but it’s a benefit to both mimicking the style of writing found in the time period of the book and in adding clarity to some of the more uncertain parts of the story. Thaniel and Grace are the two point of view characters, and they both have distinct voices in terms of how they think and feel and react to events. There is a third point of view that only appears twice – a man by the name of Ito – and whilst what is in the chapters is important to understanding Keita, it can feel jarring the first time the point of view shifts to him. Pulley’s voice is omnipresent and weaves between them all quite well.

Despite the dramatic opening, the historical events are merely a catalyst that brings the characters together. If you’re expecting something particularly reactive to the bombings in London, you may be disappointed. This book is very heavily character driven, which often means aspects of that dramatic background detail is pushed aside or explained away quite quickly. All the focus is entirely on the three main characters – in particular, Thaniel and Keita.

Thaniel was the main point of view character and a majority of the events in the book happened because of or to him, so it was incredibly important that he was as engaging as he actually was. Thaniel was an everyday Joe whose life is turned upside down by a timepiece and the watchmaker. The character growth from the first chapter and his stagnant life to the ending is wonderful. His voice was consistent and his character reliable throughout despite all the strangeness that happens to him that would justify him being unreasonable at times.

(And just a note, I love his ending. It’s simple and small but it’s sweet.)

Grace was given less attention and whilst there were parts of the story were I wondered what her actual purpose was, I did enjoy her strength and her intelligence. She’s a science major at Oxford University who wants to prove the existence of a phenomenon called ether so that she can continue her scientific research without being expected to do a ‘women’s duty’. She doesn’t shy away from her opinions and isn’t ashamed of how smart she is, which was awesome to read. There are some things that she does however that I disagree with and some opinions that I think were unnecessary (admittedly from a modern perspective) which made her someone I liked less than the others. Her chapters in the book were still interesting from an alternative perspective.

Keita Mori was by far my favourite character in this whole thing. He definitely stole the show for me. Keita’s not a point of view character but his effect and influence are shown clearly across the whole book – he is the focus of the book regardless. He is funny and entertaining and has a clockwork octopus called Katsu and I have to admit that won me over quite quickly. There is so much I want to say about Keita’s character but I also want to keep this spoiler free and as mysterious as Keita would probably want himself to be, so I’ll leave it at this – Keita is the cutest and I love him.

And, an unexpected discovery whilst reading that made me super happy, this book has LGBTQ representation and it ends happily. I liked the fact that I didn’t expect that, it wasn’t something that the book was sold with. The relationship that does build in the book is a slow burn and sweet but not sexualised like it could have been.

All in all, I did really enjoy The Watchmaker of Filigree Street. I didn’t know what to expect when I went into it and that was a benefit as it kept me free of expectations and allowed the characters to guide me where it wanted me to go. I enjoyed the writing and the characters, and the direction the story took.

If you want a unique character-driven read or you want some more historical steampunk in your life, I would recommend that you give this book a try!


Have you read The Watchmaker of Filigree Street? What did you think? If you haven’t, has this review made you want to pick the book up or not? Let me know what you think in the comments!


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naughty or nice book tag // ’tis the season to be joy fa-lalala

naughty or nice book tag

Christmas is only two days away which seems completely ridiculous – almost as ridiculous as the fact it is two days before Christmas and I haven’t done a holiday book tag at all yet! That changes today!

I’ve been seeing this book tag everywhere and I just couldn’t resist giving it ago! I have this strange feeling I’m going to be on the naughty list this year…..

The original tag was created by the fantastic Jenn @ Jenniely and you all should definitely go and give her some love if you’re not already! Also a big thank you to Beth @ Reading Every Night and Kelly @ Just Another Book In The Wall whose own posts for this book tag inspired me to do my own!


Received an ARC and not reviewed it?

Um, yeah. I’ve tried my hardest to read and review every ARC I request or receive but I have terrible time management and read by mood, which means I suck terribly at this.

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Have less than 60% feedback rating on Netgalley?

Another yes. See above for the reason why. Whoops.

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Rated a book on goodreads and promised a full review was to come on your blog (and never did)?

Actually, no. I only review books on goodreads if I’ve written a full review on my blog. I feel like I need to have all my ideas written out and decided upon before I start rating how I feel about a book.

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Folded down the page of a book?

I would never deface a book like this (anymore)!

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Accidentally spilled on a book?

I haven’t as of yet but the year isn’t over yet and I am incredibly clumsy so….

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DNF a book this year?

Nope! I’ve actually had a good run with reading this year (when I wasn’t in a slump).

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Bought a book purely because it was pretty with no intention of reading it?

Only once. I have a special edition of Peter Pan and its beautiful with loads of things to touch and interact with but I will never touch it in case I break something.

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Read whilst you were meant to be doing something else (like homework)?

All the time. I am the worst procrastinator.

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Skim read a book?

Yeah, usually when I’m trying to get to the end of my page before the train pulls in at my stop.

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Completely missed your Goodreads goal?

Unfortunately yes.

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Borrowed a book and not returned it?

I would never! If someone did that to me, I would be heartbroken.

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Broke a book buying ban?

Every single time.

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Started a review, left it for ages then forgot what the book was about?

…Let’s just say in a few days, you’ll be reading the result of this.

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Wrote in a book you were reading?

For school, yes, but never for leisure reading.

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Finished a book and not added it to your Goodreads?

Nah. I might add it late, but I’ll add it at some point.

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Borrowed a book and not returned it to a friend?

Same thing as before, I would be so sad if someone did this to me so no.

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Dodged someone asking if they can borrow a book?

Probably. Usually, children at work asking. I trust them but not that much.

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Broke the spine of someone else’s book?

Never! I try my hardest not to break the spine of any book.

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Took the jacket off a book to protect it and ended up making it more damaged?

Nope! I have however spend a day trying to protect a book from damage and then rip the jacket on the journey home from work. It was quite distressing.

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Sat on a book accidentally?

Yeah. I don’t always look where I’m sitting.

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And the final score is *drum roll* …..

10/20

 

So I am on the naughty list – I called that one! It was very close though, I’ll have to do better next year! How many of you ended up on the book lover naughty list?

If you want to do this, I am tagging you! Drop me a comment when you’ve made your post so I can check it out!


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review: the poppy war by r.f. kuang

35068705flower bannerTitle: The Poppy War

Author: R. F. Kuang

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Release Date: May 1st 2018

Pages: 544

Rating:

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Poppy War is a ridiculously intense, brutal and nerve-wracking work with so many twists and turns and moments that made you gasp and wince. It is immersive, completely absorbing and succeeds in keeping you hooked from beginning to end.

I had heard so much about this book before I picked it up. It had been circulating online – Instagram, booktube, other book blogs – and the more I read about it, the more desperate I was to get my hands on it. A fantasy based on Japanese and Chinese history? Yes please! Incredibly luckily, I managed to find an ARC copy to download on NetGalley.

And boy, was it worth the wait!

One of the main reasons that The Poppy War is so entertaining is the multitude of engaging characters that can be found on every page. Rin, as the main character, definitely steals the show. Her voice is so strong and consistent, growing in depths with her journey throughout the course of the book. You understand her struggles and confusions, her anger and her happiness which all add to making the difficult decision at the end of the book all the more powerful.

All the characters managed to have this strength, the good and the bad. The motives and reasoning for each character’s actions are interesting whether you agree with them or not. It was especially interesting to read about how they grew and changed over the course of the book, making it feel incredibly organic and real. This was reflected in the relationships between characters too, friendships growing and enemies being made in one moment and then quickly changing within pages. This also helps keep the pace as it is quite a hefty book.

Another strength is the worldbuilding. This land is so well described from its physical appearance to its history and its people – no piece of information is missed out and really makes these seem like a real place. This is definitely one of the places where Kuang’s research into Japanese and Chinese history has paid off!

But despite the amount of detail, it doesn’t seem overwhelming or affects the pace, which is a real benefit to the writing. In particular, most of the information is given to you in the training chapters, when Rin herself is learning and growing and becoming more aware of the world outside of the tiny town she grew up in.

Kuang’s descriptions are incredibly visceral – which is both a strength and a weakness. Most of the book is about war and with war comes atrocities. Kuang does not shy away from them. This book is not for the faint-hearted or easily squeamish. As someone who doesn’t usually react to such grotesque imagery in books, I did have to stop in one particular section (and if you’ve read this book, you know what I’m talking about) just because the harsh reality of what was being described was so horrific that I needed a few moments to settle myself.

Overall, I adored The Poppy War. I have been in a massive reading and reviewing slump recently, and this was the book that dragged me out of it. If you like South East Asian history, if you like fantasy and magical worlds, if you like epics and character growth, this is definitely the book for you. At the moment, it seems to be shaping to be a fantastic story with at least one more book already announced and I cannot wait to read it!


Have you read The Poppy War? What did you think? If you haven’t, has this review made you want to pick the book up or not? Let me know what you think in the comments!


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book review: white rabbit red wolf by tom pollock

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Title: White Rabbit, Red Wolf

Author: Tom Pollock

Publisher: Walker Books

Release Date: May 3rd 2018

Pages: 400

Rating:

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

White Rabbit, Red Wolf follows Peter Blankman, a maths prodigy dealing with a severe anxiety disorder who ends up tangled within lies and conspiracies after an attempted assassination attempt on his scientist mother. This is an immensely entertaining read, full of twists and turns that have you questioning who can be trusted and who can’t.

I am a big supporter of books about characters with mental health disorders done well, and this is definitely one of them. Throughout the book, there is a focus on Peter’s coping mechanisms that help him cope with day to day life – ways of coping that are healthy and beneficial in the long run – as well as showing him overcoming what he perceives to be limitations. And what’s great is that this book isn’t specifically about that – it isn’t about Peter’s mental health and yet it is woven into the story so well that it all fits seamlessly.

There is also the character of Ingrid, who suffers from OCD – in the book, it mostly manifests as an overwhelming need to wash her hands. The interactions between Ingrid and Peter feel important because they are both from the same place, helping each other to overcome what is holding them back and acting as a support network at the worst of times. It is very rare to read a book with multiple characters with mental health conditions.

I also enjoyed Anabel as a character. She’s Peter’s twin and acts as his constant to keep him grounded. She encourages him to do things he may have avoided and overcome his fears, as well as protect him from the dangers of the world. She’s a badass lady, ridiculously strong and a force to be reckoned with.

I don’t want to give too much away about Anabel, Peter or Ingrid as their characters drive the story, but as the story processes, all three have a secret revealed that complete turns everything on its head, and makes you questions who and what they really are.

I have to admit my first impression of White Rabbit, Red Wolf was one of confusion. It is a book that has not a slow build but a convoluted one. It raises a ton of questions almost immediately, definitely keeps you hooked, but it took over half of the book before I could truly say that I understood what was going on.

Pollock’s writing style had a lot to do with this. It is quite dense, with lots of description, mimicking Peter’s very unique way of thinking. It is a benefit and a hindrance, as when you first pick this book up, you might feel overwhelmed. But believe me, it is worth pushing through that as the world you will be immersed in is wonderfully humourous and dark, filling you with question after question.

And as for the ending…well, I had to reread it a few times just to make sure.

White Rabbit, Red Wolf is an intense thriller in a way that I didn’t originally expect, but found myself enjoying entirely. Pollock’s writing can take some getting used to, but it’s worth it for the end result. I would recommend this to someone who enjoys conspiracy theories, enjoys having their expectations to be challenged and wants some genuinely brilliant mental health representation.


Have you read White Rabbit, Red Wolf? What did you think? If you haven’t, has this review made you want to pick the book up or not? Let me know what you think in the comments!


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