Tuesday, 24 January 2017

#24in48 Wrap Up Clare

I would have loved to have completed all 24 hours. This was my first time participating and I was very excited. Unfortunately it didn't work out for a couple of reasons. The first of which was that I was a bit ill on Sunday and so only managed to read for a couple of hours which meant that I only really have Saturdays hours to draw upon. Nevertheless I am proud of myself for how much I did manage to read and very much enjoyed taking part. Hopefully when the next 24in48 rolls around I will be better able to complete it! 

Total Read: 11 hours 13 minutes

The House on Sunset LakeMine to Possess (Psy-Changeling, #4)My Lady Jane: The Not Entirely True StoryGeorgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit
My Lady Jane and Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit were the stand-out favourites of the weekend for me! I'd been looking forward to them a lot and so glad to find they didn't disappoint me! 

Ann actually did manage to complete the 24 hours which is amazing! So she will have her (much longer) wrap up post up soon! 

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare) to keep up with what we are reading

Monday, 23 January 2017

Exam Revision Techniques

I had an idea for this post while revising for my mock exams and I thought that it might be a helpful or interesting post! This is a bit of an unusual post but I hope that you enjoy and if you can come up with any revision techniques of your own that I haven't thought of comment it down below.

1. Read
This is one of my favourite pieces of advice that I have been given by my English teacher because I love to read. It isn't exactly revision but the more you read the better you can understand and analyse quotes so it does help.

2. Use Colour
I find that colour is a really helpful way of remember quotes and facts that are important, I don't know why this is but it could help you too. (GIVE EXAMPLES)

3. Don't Spend Too Long Revising
By this I mean that you need to have breaks between revision because otherwise after about 45 minutes you are not going to be able to remember much of what you've revised. Revision is important but it is pointless to revise when you are not going to remember anything.

4. Use Diagrams And Drawings
Similar to using colour in my revision I find that drawings and diagrams are easy to remember and picture in my head when I am in the middle of an exam. Spider diagrams and Revision/quote cards also really help when revising/remembering quotes or facts and figures.

5. Revise A Topic 5 Times
Someone once told me that for a topic to stay in your brain you should revise it 5 times at intervals so that you have more of a chance of remembering it. Of course in order for this to work you need to spend a lot of time revising and start revision early.

6. Be Organised
This may sound like an obvious one but if you aren't organised then you wont be as successful. I suggest maybe making a revision timetable so you know what to revise when and keeping all of your revision materials together in one place.

7. Find A Way That Works For You
I have revision techniques that work for me but a lot of my friends have very different ways of revising, not all types of revision will work for you so don't just try one technique.

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare) to keep up with what we are reading

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Sunday Post 22nd January 2017

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The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted at Caffeinated Book Reviewer, it's a chance to post a recap on the past week, show the books we have received and share what we plan for the coming week. Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and the aim is to show our newest books and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops or downloaded on to their e-reader. As always you can click on any of the pictures to be taken to the Goodreads page for that book if you're interested in finding out more about it.

Last Week on the Blog:

Books We Got This Week:

Mine to Possess (Psy-Changeling, #4)Wolf Hall (Thomas Cromwell, #1)Mistress of My Fate
Mine to Possess by Nalini Singh: I've already read this one. I enjoyed it but didn't love the characters or their relationship. The weakest of the series for me but I am looking forward to continuing it.
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel: There are so many great things said about these books. I already had the sequel so I was glad to pick up a copy of this in a charity shop. 
Mistress of Fate by Hallie Rubenhold: One I actually hadn't heard of before but I really like the cover and the plot sounds very intriguing to me. I have definitely been in a historical mood lately so this should be perfect
The IdiotThe Karamazov BrothersWintersong
The Idiot/ The Karamazov Brothers by Fyodor Dostoevsky: I loved Crime and Punishment so I picked these up at a charity shop as well. I want to read more Classics so I am looking forward to these.
Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones: I have been so excited for this ever since I heard I was getting it and when it arrived I was just ecstatic! Will be reading this next week so I can post the review around the release date!! The quotes I've seen from this book are just beautiful!

Reading Update:

Clare:

The Smoke HunterPride and PrejudiceThe House on Sunset LakeMine to Possess (Psy-Changeling, #4)My Lady Jane: The Not Entirely True Story
The Smoke Hunter by Jacquelyn Benson: 5 stars, I loved this - if you love Indiana Jones or Romancing the Stone but wanted a strong female lead then this is definitely for you - Ellie is going on my favourite characters list for sure. I have an uncorrected proof of this and I definitely want to get a finished copy for re-reading!
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: 5 stars, I always love re-reading this! So many new things I pick up on every time and favourite passages that I come back to!
The House on Sunset Lake by Tasmina Perry: 2.5 stars, This was my first Perry read. I was actually hovering around the 4 star mark until late in the book when everything became too rushed and the revelations were badly handled. A very serious crime that should have been dealt with was brushed off as "We all have our flaws" which made me feel a little sick, and the depiction of mental illness really, really bothered me. I want to write a review for this but I need to gather my thoughts a little and try not to get too personal.
Mine to Possess by Nalini Singh: 3 stars, Not my favourite of the series but I am still really excited to continue - I am now 4 books in so only 10 books left I think? This should be doable by the end of the year. 
My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows: 4.5 stars, Sweet and funny. There were plenty of moments where I actually laughed out loud and I really liked the romance.

Next Week on the Blog:

  • Cover Characteristics: Big Ben
  • Wednesday Catch-Up
  • Top 5 Under-Rated Books (Ann)
  • Friday Reads
  • February Releases

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare) to keep up with what we are reading

Saturday, 21 January 2017

A Winter's Respite Mid-Way Wrap Up and Second Week Goals

The first half of this week was a bit of a write off as I was busy with an assignment for University so I only managed to read two books the first was The Smoke Hunter by Jacquelyn Benson! However it was a book that I greatly enjoyed so I don't feel too bad - plus I managed to get a review written for it as well! And then I read The House on Sunset Lake by Tasmina Perry. I really liked the writing style but I really did not like everything that happened after the big twist. Some big events were brushed off as nothing - a serious crime was dismissed as "everyone has flaws" and mental illness was really badly portrayed. 
The Smoke HunterThe House on Sunset Lake

So for Week 2 I have quite a lot of catching up to do! My end goal for Winter's Respite was 10 books and I still believe that it is doable. I am going to get a lot of reading done this weekend as I am also taking part in the #24in48 read-a-thon (so many read-a-thons in January!!) and next week I don't think I have any fixed plans so I hope to get some reading done then too! 

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare) to keep up with what we are reading

Ann Reviews: The Creeping Shadow by Jonathon Stroud

The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co. #4)
Title: The Creeping Shadow
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Pages: 529
Rating: 5/5
Blurb: Lucy has left Lockwood & Co. A freelance operative, she is hiring herself out to other agencies – agencies that might value her ever-improving skills.

But now Lockwood needs her help.
Penelope Fittes, leader of the well-renowned Fittes Agency wants Lockwood & Co. – and only them – to locate and remove the ‘Source’ for the legendary Brixton Cannibal.
It’s a tough assignment. Made worse by the tensions between Lucy and the other agents – even the skull is treating her like a jilted lover!
What will it take to reunite the team? Black marketeers, an informant ghost, a Spirit Cape that transports the wearer, and mysteries involving their closest rivals may just do the trick.

But not all is at it seems. And it’s not long before a shocking revelation rocks Lockwood & Co. to its very core . . .

This is the fourth book in the series and I was really hoping that it would be as amazing as the others and I did really enjoy it! The Lockwood and Co series is one of the only ghost books that I have read and it makes me want to read more books like it.

I think that my favourite character in this book was Lucy but I also love Lockwood because he is so much fun. I love Lucy as a character because she was so strong and independent at the beginning! I do however wish that there was more of a relationship between her and Lockwood because they would make an incredible couple and I can see hints of a developing relationship between them, I just wish there was more of it. Another thing that I really hope will be in the next book is more of a background into the ghost skull because I would love to find out more about him and what happened to him. I also loved all of the other characters because they were so different and everyone had something unique that they contributed to the team and the story which I thought was brilliant!

I loved the fact that within one big plot there were lots of different parts, they solved many different ghost problems while also dealing with the main plot which I thought was done excellently. My favourite of all the ghosts that they had to deal with was the Brixton Cannibal because it was given such great backstory and was so creepy and twisted that it made me love the book even more than I did. I really liked the fact that most of the ghosts that they dealt with were all given stories about how they died and their lives before which made them seem more realistic and also made them very easy to imagine while reading!

I have always thought that when it comes to ghost stories the setting is really important, if you don't describe the setting in a creepy way then it detracts from the impact of the story. This is one thing that was done really well in this book because I found it really easy to picture every setting but also they all sounded very dark and sinister that it improved the spooky atmosphere that came with the ghost stories. I loved all the settings in The Creeping Shadows.

Overall I think that you should definitely read this book if you have read the other books before or if you, like me, love to read ghost books you should think about reading the whole series because it is one of my favourites! I can't wait to read the next book soon!

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare) to keep up with what we are reading.

Friday, 20 January 2017

#24in48 TBR

This is our first time taking part and we are super excited to see if we can manage it. Our main goal is to complete all 24 hours and we are not too concerned with page counts or number of books read although it would be nice to put a dent in our TBRs!!

Ann:

Pride and PrejudiceThe Name of the Star (Shades of London, #1)Twilight (Twilight, #1)
For this readathon I am aiming to finish Pride and Prejudice which my Classic of the Month for January - I've fallen a little behind on it and I would like to catch up. I then want to read The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson which is a favourite series of Clare's and looks like my sort of book. And finally I would like to read Twilight which I've heard so much about (good and bad) and would like to see what I think of it!

Clare: 

Mine to Possess (Psy-Changeling, #4)My Lady Jane: The Not Entirely True StoryThe Diabolic
I will probably wind up reading more than this (24 hours is a long time after all) but these are the only three I know for definite I want to read! Mine to Possess is the fourth book in the Psy-Changeling series which I am aiming to finish by the end of 2017! I've heard this isn't the best in the series so I am a little cautious but hopefully I will enjoy it. I then want to read My Lady Jane which I have heard amazing things about lately - so many people have told me to read it so I definitely want to give it a go! And finally I will be buddy reading The Diabolic with Veronika from The Regal Critiques and I am super excited!!

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare) to keep up with what we are reading

Friday Reads 20th January 2017

Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice and Book Beginnings is hosted by Rose City Reader. The idea is to share a sentence or so from the first page and the 56th page of the book you are currently reading! 

The House on Sunset Lake
Book Beginning:
"No one forgets a summer spent at Casa D'Or. You remember them so clearly you don't even need to close your eyes to recall the heavy warm breeze, the smell of azaleas, and the air that sticks to your sun-kissed skin."
Friday 56:
"Recovered, he wanted to tell her, searching around for the lines he'd rehearsed all those years ago, the words he would say to her if they ever met again, the things he'd written in the letters that never got sent." 
I am actually only 16 pages in to this so far so haven't reached the 56 yet. I am enjoying the writing style. The opening is really descriptive and emotive and I am sure this will be a book where the setting is very important! This is my first Tasmina Perry book and I am excited to continue it today! 

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare) to keep up with what we are reading

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Clare Reviews: The Smoke Hunter by Jacquelyn Benson

The Smoke HunterTitle: The Smoke Hunter
Author: Jacquelyn Benson
Format: Uncorrected proof copy
Source: Received from publisher for an honest review
Pages: 585
Rating: 5/5
Blurb: London, 1898. Archivist Eleanora Mallory discovers a map to a legendary city . But is it the key to unravelling an ancient mystery or a clever hoax?

Compelled to find out, Ellie journeys to Central America - with a merciless enemy hot on her heels.
In a race to uncover the map's secret first, Ellie is forced to partner with maverick archaeologist Adam Bates, a man she's not sure she can trust. Together, they venture into an uncharted wilderness alive with smoke and shadows, where an even greater danger awaits them.
For what lies there whispering to be unearthed has the power to bring the world to its knees.
Join Ellie and Adam as they battle rivers of scorpions, plummeting waterfalls and pre-historic death traps on the journey to uncovering a deadly secret that could shake the fate of the world.


It took me a while to compose my thoughts enough to write a review that wasn't just "I love it, I love it, I love it". Because I feel like this is a book I've been waiting for most of my life. It's a sort of Romancing the Stone/Indiana Jones/The Mummy mix set in the Victorian era with a heroine who is smart and brilliant and with a romance that was engaging but never took over the plot - which was so exciting!

Since Ellie was kind of the stand-out amazing thing about this book for me (or at least my absolute favourite) it makes sense to start with her. She is a suffragette, a University graduate (in a time when women generally weren't supposed to be) and just an all around kick-ass lady. She is incredibly smart obviously but I really liked the way in which we were shown this. Too often in books, especially historical ones, I find that the heroines intelligence is pushed at the reader until it becomes frustrating. But here Ellie was intelligent and knew it and never ever had to prove it. To other characters or to the reader. She had her flaws - I wish she had trusted Adam sooner for example - but these just serve to make her more real and human. 

The other characters were also great although I didn't love them quite as much as Ellie. Adam was an engaging and likable hero. I really liked the development of their relationship, which felt realistic. And I loved that they were a team - they worked together so well that I didn't really even notice it until I was reflecting on the book afterwards. They had disagreements but ultimately they understood each other and co-operated when it was needed. The villains - Jacobs and Dawson were also very well created and quite different from each other. Jacobs, despite seeming the bigger threat, was actually less disturbing to me. He was very cold and unfeeling and ruthless - all things that make a good villain. But it was Dawson who knew that what they were doing was wrong but went along with it out of cowardice. Who had qualms but stifled them in order to save his own life - he was the one who really bothered me.

I was concerned initially that, with such a relatively long book, the pacing would feel off or slow in places but it never did. There are scenes with plenty of action and scenes with less action but there was never a dull moment and I was kept turning the pages long beyond the "one more chapter" point! This does read like a complete novel but the ending leaves it potentially open for more books and I would definitely be interested in that. With mentions of some other characters, such as Ellie's cousin Neil, I think there is also the possibility of some companion novels rather than straight sequels. Which I would be fine with - so long as Ellie and Adam make an appearance.

Overall I loved The Smoke Hunter. If you are a fan of adventure movies then I think this is definitely a book you would be interested in or if you just love historical fiction with amazing characters - then this is it! I will definitely be wanting a finished copy of this so that I can re-read it! I know that I can't wait for more from Jacquelyn Benson! 

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare) to keep up with what we are reading

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Top 5 Polarising Books

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly feature and you can find the goodreads group here. I found this a very hard topic so it took me a while to come up with 5 but I managed it in the end.



1) Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
Twilight (Twilight, #1)
I  have not yet ready Twilight but I know that it definitely is considered a polarising book and I really want to read it just see what it is like. I want to see whether I will like it or hate it.



2) Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia
Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, #1)
I loved beautiful creatures although the movie was terrible. However I know that there are some people who did not enjoy it!



3) Lord Of The Flies by William Golding
Lord of the Flies

I had to read this book for homework at school, and I really did not enjoy it at all, but there were a few people in my class who really enjoyed it.



4) Magyk by Angie Sage
Magyk (Septimus Heap, #1)
This is one of my favourite books, that I loved so much. However I know for a fact that one of my best friends does not enjoy it, I do not understand why but it is one of her least favourite books.



5) Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Hush, Hush (Hush, Hush, #1)
I have read this book a couple of times and I have managed to make a lot of my friends really enjoy it, however I do know that a lot of people don't like it as much as I do.


You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare) to keep up with what we are reading.

Wednesday Catch-Up 18th January 2017

Every Wednesday we are linking up with WWW Wednesday. WWW Wednesday is hosted at Taking on a World of Words and asks 3 questions: What are you currently reading?, What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you'll read next?

Currently Reading:

The House on Sunset LakeEmma
I am currently reading The House on Sunset Lake. I've heard good things about Tasmina Perry's other books but nothing at all about this one so I am very intrigued. The cover is gorgeous and the plot sounds like my thing - with the story set in two times. I also decided to pick up Emma since I finished P&P early. Emma is actually my favourite Jane Austen novel so I know I will get through this by the end of the month.

Recently Finished:

The SecretThe Smoke HunterPride and Prejudice
The first book I read this week was The Secret by Kathryn Hughes which was a good, twisty novel with some great characters. This also fits in the 1960-1979 section of the When Are You Reading Challenge which is amazing because I thought that would be one of the harder ones to fill! I have a full review up for this one here. I then spent the rest of the week reading The Smoke Hunter by Jacquelyn Benson which I loved. It took me most of the week to read, partly because I didn't have a lot of time to read and partly because I just wanted to savour it. This is the sort of Indiana Jones-esque adventure novel I've been waiting most of my life for but with an amazing female main character (I love her). I should have a review up for this tomorrow! And I finished my Classic for the month - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I loved re-reading this, I don't actually know how many times I've read it but it's a lot! 

Planning to Read Next:

The Quest (Sanshlian Series, #1)Trapped in WonderlandMercury Striking (Scorpius Syndrome, #1)
The Quest and Trapped in Wonderland are definites for me as I am taking part in a blog tour for the latter soon and want to have my review ready! And me being me, I have to read The Quest before Trapped in Wonderland because I got it first? Thanks to Dani Hoots for sending me review copies of both these books! And then Mercury Striking is a maybe. I feel kind of in the mood for it at the moment but I am not sure how I will feel by the time I've finished the others so we shall see?

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare) to keep up with what we are reading