Sunday, 28 August 2016

Beauty Review: Lush's Guardian of the Forest Bath Bomb.

I'm back from my short and sweet trip up to Northumberland with my family and what better way to get back into 'home mode' than a bath? I always need to wash off the travel before I truly feel comfortable. So I thought I'd try out one of the Lush Oxford Street Exclusives that I'm still making my way through from March's haul!



I'm sure you can tell from my blog design but green is my absolute favourite colour, so I was ready to soak in it. It's not the most common colour for a bath bomb but Lush never lets that stop them, eh? And really- the design is beautiful...



Now, green may be my favourite colour but earthy scents are not so I was surprised by how much I liked sitting in the tub with this fizzing around. It was just- relaxing. Like sitting outside in a forest minus the bugs. And the water, oh, the water. A deep green with golden shimmer that didn't stick to the skin. All in all, I spent a good hour in that tub and came out more refreshed than I was all holiday.

I'll definitely pick it up again next time I go on a Lush binge because despite being £4.25, I think you could split it in two and get the same effect. And it's online!

Are you going to pick one up? How do you feel about earthy scents?

Monday, 22 August 2016

Book Review: Obsidian by Jennifer L Armentrout!

At some point in the past couple years I stopped reading young adult books very often. Which is ridiculous because not only am I writing a YA book, but YA was what got my out of the biggest reading slump of my life. So when I was invited to an event where Jennifer L Armentrout was the guest of honour, I thought I should read her book I owned. And I loved it.



Starting over sucks. When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I'd pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring.... until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.

And then he opened his mouth. 
Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something... unexpected happens. 

The hot alien living next door marks me. 
You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon's touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I'm getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades. 

If I don't kill him first, that is.

I love aliens and I love book blogging, so a character who discovers aliens while running a book blog? Count me in. And any aliens reading my blog, feel free to follow!

Obsidian was, at times, a little Twilight; a male figure of power being mean to a teenage girl to keep her safe away from him. But this story excelled at the importance of honesty, and how things get a lot easier when people aren't lying. I can't tell you the amount of times I've been infuriated with characters that don't just tell the truth! Obsidian isn't honesty hour all the time, but Katy takes no nonsense.

Speaking of, the main character Katy managed to be both unsure and self-confident in a way only teenage girls manage. A lot of YA can't balance wanting to be realistic, and idealistic when it comes to body-confidence and self love, but Armentrout nailed it. And friendship was always the top dog. Sure, the romance was steamy and all, but a YA female character putting in time with her best friend was near revolutionary.

And lets talk about the book blogger angle! I honestly love how much Jennifer gets being a book blogger. This isn't an idealistic view of the work we put in; Katy mentions things like not getting paid, doing it because of love but that it "would be sweet" if she was. Armentrout obviously loves books and reading because Katy does and it's such an honest feeling. Just like Aurora Teagarden. I love these kinds of books because not only does the protagonist and I have something in common, it staves off any reading slump. There's nothing like getting excited about reading to make me want to read, and getting that while reading is a win-win.

For me, the only time this book wasn't the example of what YA should be, was the cookie cutter plot and resolution. While I was super impressed that Jennifer L. Armentrout wrote this in 7 days (I know, right?) it didn't hit that sweet spot for me when I can tell an author has spent a long time plotting and foreshadowing. But you know what? Bring on the rest of the Lux series. Not everything has to be English Literature class complicated. This book was fun.



I was always able to lose myself in reading. Books were a necessary escape I always gladly jumped into head first.

Have you read Obsidian? What did you think?

Monday, 15 August 2016

Book Haul: YALC Edition!

If anyone actually went to YALC and didn't buy a book, how did you manage? I thought I was going to be so self controlled since I had just hauled some books that week. But no. I ended up bringing home double the amount of books I went with. YALC, I love you, but my bank balance doesn't.

The Waterstones tote was must-buy. I love anything with shelves on it.


Doodle A Day and Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell
Despite Chris Riddell being my most owned illustrator, I realised while I was at YALC that all of the books I own by him are written by other people. So I picked up the first Goth Girl book which had been on my Amazon wish list for a while, and then added his Doodle A Day journal because his talk has inspired me to try drawing as a kind of emotional release. Heck, any excuse to add more Chris Riddell books to my shelves.

Nothing Tastes as Good by Claire Hennessy
On day one of YALC, I went to Claire Hennessy's Creative Writing workshop. She just had the most wonderful energy that I bought her book and took it to get signed so I could tell her that I really enjoyed learning from her. It sounds like a really interesting book as well. I'm looking forward to reading this ASAP.

Wonder Boy by Nicole Burstein
I took Nicole Bursteins debut novel; Other Girl to YALC after adoring it last year. When I was there, I saw her new book Wonder Boy which hadn't been released at the time, in the Waterstones stall. I had to pick it up and I can't wait to finish this companion duology. These are the books I wish I had as a kid.

Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant
This isn't for me, as I didn't get along with Gone and his other stories don't really appeal to me personally. However, he's one of my best friends favourite authors and she's just moved in to a new place so- what better housewarming present is there than a new book? If you read my YALC experience post you know that I stuck around an extra hour to get this signed because I'm just the best friend!

Blame by Simon Mayo
My mother was actually the enabler when it came to Blame. We went to the Join the Rebellion! Resistance and Protest in YA panel and I think she wants to read this series after hearing Simon Mayo talk about it, but used me as an excuse to pick it up. It has amazing reviews though so she'll have to fight me for it.

Mother Tongue by Julie Mayhew
This actually isn't being published until the 25th but YALC had a couple books that weren't published yet for sale like Wonder Boy and Mother Tongue. This was another purchase that the Join the Rebellion! Resistance and Protest in YA panel inspired because I loved her energy and felt like if her writing mirrored that, then I'd enjoy it.

Rivers of London: Body Work by Ben Aaronovitch
My mum is a big Ben Aaronovitch fan so we went to the Fantasy London talk where he spoke and it really intrigued me. Enough to download the first book from my mums Audible account. And she picked up this, then got it signed to me. My mum is so cute. I'm super excited about it as well because I love the graphic novel format and Lee Sullivans art looks beautiful.



And a whole bunch of freebies. I have a feeling my pre-orders are about to get out of control with all these samplers.

Did you go to YALC? What did you pick up?

Saturday, 13 August 2016

My YALC Experience!

As you probably know, I spent the weekend before last in London, at the Young Adult Literature Convention. I've already put up a post about the books I took to get signed, and my haul will be up on Monday because YALC was not kind to my debit card. However, I had a lot of fun so I thought I'd tell you all about my experience and how I spent my weekend!



Friday
I hit the ground running, figuratively, on Friday. I went to the Claire Hennessy Creative Writing Workshop before rushing to her signing where she wrote me a lovely message in her latest book; Nothing Tastes as Good. Claire was so energetic, so kind and such a great way to start the weekend. I can't wait to read her book.

From there, I went to my first panel; Behind the Magic: Magical Systems in YA with Sally Green, Taran Matharu, Melinda Salisbury and VE Schwab. It was absolutely fascinating, and really had me thinking about the magic in my own book. If you're a writer, these panels will present questions to published authors that you need to also ask yourself. My story is definitely more logical now that I've forced myself to answer them. After that, I went to see Sally Green and she signed my copy of Half Bad which I read almost exactly a year ago to the day.

I took a break then to check into my hotel and rest. I can imagine that YALC is exhausting, even without health problems so thank you ibuprofen for getting me through! I did want to be back for the Fantasy London panel though. My mum is a big Ben Aaronovitch fan, and he was joined by Samantha Shannon and VE Schwab so it was a really fun panel. After that, I went to Samanthas signing and my mum, to Bens.

Before the day could end, I spent some time with Sarah from Behind on Books. We met at an event and saw each other again a couple weeks ago at another, so we're event buddies and YALC was no exception. She's lovely and writes a brilliant blog!

Lastly, I found myself at the front of the Michael Grant line for him to sign a book for my friend. Then back to the hotel, finishing an essay, and sleep.



Saturday
Another early start with the Join the Rebellion! Resistance and Protest in YA panel with Alwyn Hamilton, Julie Mayhew, Simon Mayo and Kass Morgan. These panels were bad for my bank account because I ended up buying Julie Mayhew's new book and a Simon Mayo book as soon as it ended. Hearing people talk so passionately about what they've written is my kryptonite.

Then it was time for my most anticipated event; Chris Riddells talk and signing. He is not only my most owned illustrator, he responded to that post by sending me a sketch that brightened up some dark days for me. Getting to tell him that in person was the highlight of my weekend- and probably one of the high points of this year.

After that, it was back to the hotel and a nap until Nicole Bursteins signing followed by her Secret Superheroes workshop where she sparked a great idea for my novel. Also, she was cosplaying as a Lumberjane. Actual queen.



Sunday
By Sunday I was wrecked so Daisy and I just walked around YALC and LFCC before getting pizza. The YALC section was much more interesting, in my opinion. You paid for books but they were discounted, and everything else was included in the ticket price; the panels, the workshops, the agents arena, signings and all the freebies. Whereas the LFCC part was a money pit. You paid for panels, for signings, for pictures, and the whole ground floor was just one big geeky market.

YALC was great. It was exhausting and I'm still run down but it was great. Now- I have a heck of a lot of reading to do...

Did you go to YALC? How did you spend the weekend?
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Thursday, 11 August 2016

Books I Took to YALC!

Unlike the other Books I Took to.. posts, these are books I didn't take to read, but to get signed by the talented authors that were at YALC. I had limited suitcase space and getting that thing on and off the train at Manchester and London meant I was self regulating way more than usual. My shoulders still hurt from my bag though. And although I packed only eight books, I came back with with sixteen. My haul will be up soon, but these are the books I took to YALC...



The Burial at Thebes by Seamus Heaney
This wasn't a YALC related book, but I thought I'd throw it in anyway because I did take it with me. Hello essay due in on Friday. Hello finishing that essay at 10pm. Fun. Although my grade was surprisingly good so maybe I should panic-write essays more often.

Muddle EarthBeyond the Deepwoods and The Last of the Sky Pirates by Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell
I wasn't sure on going to YALC if I'm honest. I won the tickets but I was worried about my rubbish health and how I would manage. Then I saw that Chris Riddell was going to be there. He is, without a doubt, my favourite illustrator and these books were a massive part of my childhood. I knew I had to meet him. And I read that there had been a 3 book maximum on signing in past years (not true this year but hey) so I picked my favourites!

Half Bad by Sally Green
I really liked Half Bad when I read it a year ago, and it inspired my own novel quite a bit so I pulled it down from my read shelf and packed it carefully away. I actually managed to get this signed (and got a selfie with Sally Green) so it was worth the weight.

Other Girl by Nicole Burstein
I read Other Girl way back in April of last year and loved it! It was a five star read for me. I really recommend it to people in their teens because it is just wonderful at capturing the problems of that age, and then adding superheroes! She's lovely by the way and I went to her workshop which was great. But I'll get into that more in my YALC experience post.

The Next Together by Lauren James
This was one of those, I'll take it just in case books. I didn't manage to see Lauren James as her line was really long. However, since I'm only half-way through The Next Together, I wasn't as sad as I might have been if I had missed the other authors I met.

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
I bought this way back when and decided to hold off on reading it because it's a 7-book series and they're being published very slowly. However, I took it anyway and after going to a panel where Samantha Shannon was talking, I was glad I did. I got it signed and I think I'll be starting this series soon because colour me intrigued!

Did you go to YALC? What books did you take?

Monday, 8 August 2016

Comic Books I Read in June and July!

To counter my surprising amount of books that I read in July, I didn't read many comic books in June or July. It's just one of those things I guess. I go through phases of reading certain narrative forms and the rest falls by the wayside. #10 featured in this post in June so I was reading them super slow.



Catwoman #1-12 (Collected in two trades, Volume 1: The Game and Volume 2: Dollhouse)
I love Catwoman. Even that weird Halle Berry movie version. I think she's a great modern, female Robin Hood-type character. Stealing from the rich to give to.. well, herself. But still. There's nothing like taking down some Russian mob leaders to help out the community.
I really like the New 52 run. There's an artist change briefly that I wasn't a huge fan of but the main art is beautiful. The storyline flows brilliantly through the arcs and there are several jumping-on points. The story moves fast as she uncovers nefarious plots, goes against different foes, plans to steal from certain people. There's no time to breathe for Selina Kyle.
However, I'm finding single issues really difficult to read lately. The story sometimes moves too fast and there's something about the urgency of a new issue each month that bothers me.
No matter though, because I'll definitely be continuing with Catwoman. She's a Queen.



And I had to show off my favourite covers. #4 is super classic 60's Catwoman.

What comics have you been reading lately?

Friday, 5 August 2016

Books I Read in July!

*Usual spiel about how time is moving so fast and August, etc.*
So I'm back from YALC, and I did no reading while I was there because oh my goodness, that was exhausting. I've literally spent last few days asleep. But look out for my 3 YALC blog posts coming soon! Anyway, I actually got a lot of reading done in July now I look at my Goodreads which is surprising because I barely remember doing it, and they were all pretty bad. It was just one of those months I guess! So what were they?

Just One Damn Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor, The Burial at Thebes by Seamus Heaney (Antigone by Sophocles), Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas, Seventh Heaven by Meg Cabot, The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola and An Ice Cold Grave by Charlaine Harris


Just One Damn Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor
I listened to this on audiobook trying to find a series that I can get hooked to, in my attempt to read more audiobooks. It took me a while, I was listening to it in this post in June, but I liked it well enough. I mean, it wasn't bad or anything, I just didn't find myself itching to listen to it. I blame podcasts, and the one big issue I had with the book...
The main character wasn't all that likeable to me. I'm all for accepting flaws but at some point when they're actively causing the people trouble, it might be time to work on them. The way they did time travel was great though, very Doctor Who. I've not had the best luck with time travel books in the past so it was a nice change.
I might download the next one to listen to at some point but I'm not rushing to.


The Burial at Thebes by Seamus Heaney (Antigone by Sophocles)
This was required reading for me but surprisingly, I kind of liked it. I'm not one for classic plays but the morals and the language was really beautiful. I wouldn't have personally picked it up on my own, but there are worst ways to spent forty minutes. Honestly, after writing an essay on this, I have nothing more to say.
"I am not the target. I am the archer. My shafts are tipped with truth and they stick deep."


Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas*
I never knew about Claire Douglas's debut novel The Sisters so I had no idea she won the Marie Claire Debut Novel Award until I read the author biography. In the end I was a little let down by Local Girl Missing. I've mentioned a couple of times before that suspense is all well and good, and obviously you have to hold back a little... But there are limits. This was second person narrative (aimed at 'you') and I felt lied to as a reader by the conclusion.
I did think the story was interesting and I did finish the book, but I couldn't help my brain picking up on the amount of similes that were crammed in. At one point they were every two pages. That just isn't a writing style I like.
And I knew that he'd be able to see me, backlit by the harsh lighting like an actress in a play. The starring role.


Seventh Heaven by Meg Cabot
Did Imogen actually read something from her Summer TBR? Yes, she did. I actually planned to read the last four books in this series but at the rate I'm reading this year, I'm just glad I got through one.
It was fun. These books always are. And I liked the moral of not judging people before you get to know them. I've always said I'd be happy to pass these books on to a tweenager, which is not something I say often with my idealism about how gender, relationships and education should be portrayed in YA. But there was some definite slut-shaming of Paris Hilton in this; "Limit the amount of partying - and Red Bull - and you limit the amount of embarrassing videos. That's all I'm saying." Personally I don't see how limiting partying and Red Bull will stop someone you trust leaking a private sex tape. Or why a woman who turned a betrayal into a successful reality show and several businesses should be anything but admired (also relevant to Kim K). That's all I'm saying.


The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola**
Full review here!


An Ice Cold Grave by Charlaine Harris
Another Summer TBR read! Now, I love Charlaine Harris. But I'm not a big fan of Harper Connolly. I don't know why! She's smart, she's strong, and she's able to sense dead people. I should love her. I can't figure out why that although I like these books, I don't love them. Maybe it's the ick factor of a certain relationship, maybe it's the crime without the cosy of the Aurora Teagarden books, maybe it's the slightly more explicit writing. We'll see when I finish the last of the four books in this series!

What did you read in July?
* I won this on Goodreads!
** I was sent this for review! I'm not obligated to talk about either.

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