Memo Pad: December Book Wrap Up (+ Xmas Book Haul)

Merry Christmas everyone! It’s the end of the final month of the year which means my last 2018 book wrap up. I’ll be doing a bookish year post in the next week or so once 2018 is officially over (you never know what awesome books I’ll read between now and new year!) but for now my last reviews of the year.

Stats wise I went on a book buying ban in June in an attempt to get the 75+ books on my kindle down to a more manageable number. Well I can officially say I managed to get it down to under 50. Before Christmas it was down to just 44 (pretend with me that’s a low number please!) and it meant that I could allow myself to buy a few books for Christmas. I think my goal next year will be to keep it below 50 so I’m allowed to buy books up to that number.

The books I bought in my mini Christmas haul were:

Sometime After Midnight by L Philips (which I’ve already read. See below) / Vicious by VE Schwab (finally!) / Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare (Which I’m currently reading) / Failure to Communicate by kaia Sonderby / The Disasters by MK England / An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon

But onto books I’ve read this month…

Read: 5 DNF: 1

The City of Brass by S A Chakraborty *****

There is so much hype on this book that I had to put this on hold for months but I finally felt it was the right moment to read this and just wow. I really need the sequel now. I do have to say that it felt more like a solid four stars until the last third. But what an end it was.

Nahri is a thief living in the streets of Cairo when she accidently calls forth a djinn who tells her of a magical city and, with demons also accidently called forth, Nahri has no choice but to follow him.

I do have to mention the problematic start. I didn’t like that the story started by having an autistic girl possessed by a demon and murdered simply to earn the main character sympathy points and push her off on her journey. It could have used something else and I’m surprised that it hasn’t been mentioned anywhere which is disappointing. I also felt the pacing of the first half was a bit slow and things could have moved quicker but the rest of the story was griping and other elements kept me engrossed until then.

I am VERY invested in happy endings here (for some people anyway. Definitely not for others).  Dhiru better end up happy (I think I spelt that name wrong). I have a lot of other demands but I feel like that’s the only thing I can say without giving away spoilers and is the most important one anyway!

Personally I did find the characters a bit too flawed. It does make for more epic character arcs but means for quite a lot of the book they were annoyingly flawed and I rolled my eyes a lot. But the relationships between all of the characters and how they are all connected means you can’t help but love them anyway (even if they’re being annoying!) And as I said, it all came together so well in the last third of the book that I can’t wait to read more. I also loved the world created. The different cultures, names, and characters really made the world vivid and rich and set it apart from the same old western inspired fantasy setting. I’m looking forward to the sequel (although part of me is also dreading it because INVESTED)

Scardust by Suzanne Van Rooyen *****

This was a quick and engrossing read but it does hit a lot of heavier topics (Trigger warnings for rape, self harm, physical abuse and sibling suicide).

A near future sci fi set in the middle of nowhere texas where Raleigh dreams of joining the MarsLife program to escape his life but his plans get interrupted when a guy crash lands in a crater nearby.

I loved the mix of feeling like the world was on the edge of the future but it hadn’t reached this small place on earth yet. Raleigh’s dreams of escaping were very real and you definitely routed for him through all of the heartbreak. His life is absolutely tragic and you need him to make it through. The connection and way the relationship between both boys grew was really great. It wasn’t instant, there was plenty of mistrust and learning between them and it developed into such a caring and understanding relationship that it makes you physically scared about what will happen. I guessed the twist quite early on but it was very well written and just made me want to turn the pages quicker to find out what happened next and I wasn’t disappointed once I got there at all.

City of Strife by Claudie Arseneault *****

This isn’t the first book I’ve read by this author, in fact Baker Thief is on my list of best books of the year, and while this didn’t quite reach those heights for me it is still a brilliant book full of amazing characters. It’s set in an old city on the edge of an empire where old families rule from their towers and a sect of magic users are infiltrating and disrupting the peace. There are elves mixed in with the humans, and as most of Arseneaults books do, it focuses on family and friendship with a good dose of aromantic, asexual and nonbinary rep mixed in with other queer rep.

The thing I love about all the worlds that this author creates is that they are so real and fully realised that they feel normal. You really feel as if there are ordinary people going about their lives and living in these places beyond the characters and story. I loved all the characters and there were A LOT of them. I think there were ten point of view characters. But it’s very well written and I was never confused or lost. They were all distinct, I knew how they all related to each other and everything was well explained without slowing the pace down. There are lots of characters to love. The downside of so many povs though is that there wasn’t THAT much plot and I wasn’t expecting for it to just end there. There are sequels but I definitely felt it could have been a bit longer to round out the plot more. I guess I will just have to read the next books!

Pulse by Danielle Koste *****

The thing that drew me to this book was that it was vampires but not in your typical urban fantasy setting. Instead it focuses on a boy captured and kept in a laboratory. It’s all scientific experiments and secret testing facilities but at the same time focusing on the characters caught up in it and their interactions. It reminded me of the way The Girl With All The Gifts changed up the zombie idea and I really liked it. There’s also no love triangle which I was worried about for a while. I did feel the end was messy and I was a bit disappointed with how things went in the last quarter but only because I’d enjoyed the rest so much. Overall it was a really enjoyable read that I raced through and was a fresh and different take on an over used trope.

Sometime After Midnight by L Philips *****

This was such a cute, easy read. It’s a queer modern cinderella retelling where two guys meet at a gig but the rich guy only manages to snap a picture of the other’s sharpie decorated converse before he runs away. It gets put on social media and things explode. It’s all about music, guitars, singing, the record industry and the good and bad that comes with it. Also something to note is this is NOT a coming out book. Both main characters are already out and it’s fully accepted by both friends and family so it’s never used as part of the drama which is also really nice to read. If you like your YA fluffy and light then I’d definitely recommend this book. It was such a quick but engrossing read and all of the characters are loveable.

Trigger warning for mentions of a parents suicide


DNF

White Fire by Laurie Bell

I honestly can’t put my finger on a good reason why but I just didn’t connect with this book. It’s also split into parts and when it switched to two years later I couldn’t convince myself to keep going for no other reason than I just wasn’t invested. DNF @35%



Best book of the month goes to The City of Brass. What about you? What was the best book you’ve read recently? And how was your reading this year? Any new favourites that you would recommend?

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Christmas is Here!! (SAL)

I finished it! I have a very Christmassy happy dance to share with you all! The final bells are in place and the fabric has been unrolled.

Here is my Christmas cross stitch all finished:

By all finished I obviously just mean the stitching. It has not been made into a wall hanging yet. Too much going on to even attempt that but I will hopefully get that done after Christmas. Although it definitely won’t be for the next update. I have no idea what I will show you then because I’m not sure I have another project to jump into. I’ve been too busy to design anything. Hmmmmm.

It’s taken me a very long time (over a year at least) but I’m very happy with it. I’m so pleased the gold works with the white. I’m still in love with the bright red fabric. Yay.

Here are the links to everyone else who is taking part in the stitchalong where we post our progress on which ever projects we’re working on every three weeks.

Avis // Claire // Gun // Carole // LucyAnn// Kate // Sue // Constanze // Debbierose // Christina // Kathy // Margaret // Cindy // Helen // Steph // Linda // Heidi // Jackie // Sunny // Hayley // Megan // Catherine // Connie // Clare

I hope everyone has a lovely Christmas and Happy holidays and I look forward to seeing more lovely projects grow next year!

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Top 5 Wednesday – Most Anticipated 2019 Winter Releases

Top 5 Wednesday is hosted by Lainey @ GingerReadsLainey on Youtube and has a group over on goodreads. This week’s topic is most anticipated 2019 releases but I’m narrowing that down to 2019 winter releases (or first three months as technically March isn’t winter) because there’s too many great sounding books to do the whole year in one small list.

These are my top 5 most anticipated 2019 Jan-March releases:

(I’m going by the release dates on their goodreads pages which I’ve linked to)

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi 

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance. To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much. Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

Immoral Code by Lillian Clark

For Nari, aka Narioka Diane, aka hacker digital alter ego “d0l0s,” it’s college and then a career at “one of the big ones,” like Google or Apple. Keagan, her sweet, sensitive boyfriend, is happy to follow her wherever she may lead. Reese is an ace/aro visual artist with plans to travel the world. Santiago is off to Stanford on a diving scholarship, with very real Olympic hopes. And Bellamy? Physics genius Bellamy is admitted to MIT—but the student loan she’d been counting on is denied when it turns out her estranged father—one Robert Foster—is loaded. Nari isn’t about to let her friend’s dreams be squashed by a deadbeat billionaire, so she hatches a plan to steal just enough from Foster to allow Bellamy to achieve her goals.

Other Words for Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin

Years ago, the house at the end of the lane burned down. The townspeople never learned what happened, but Rita Frost and her teenage ward, Bevan, were never seen again. Only Mae and her brother Rossa know the truth of what happened that summer—and they’ll never say a word. When they were told they’d be spending their summer with their great aunt, Mae and Rossa were anything but thrilled. But nothing at Rita’s is as it appears. Bevan is enthralled by a dangerous power lurking behind the walls of Rita’s home. The power—known as Sweet James—is hungry, and what he wants most is a taste of the twins. And Bevan wants the magic and escape that Sweet James is offering her. But Sweet James is never satisfied, no matter what Bevan brings him. Mae would give Bevan almost anything—she is in the grip of first love, both dying for Bevan’s attention and worried she’ll get it. But Rossa is learning some of the terrible secrets the house is hiding, secrets that paralyze him with fear. As the summer draws to a close, Bevan tries to free Sweet James from his prison within the walls, but is thwarted by Rita and her cat (who is more than a cat), Bobby Dear. It’s over for Mae and Rossa, isn’t it? They return home. They don’t talk about the strangeness of that summer. But it never completely abandons them. And things at home only get worse. And so three years later, Rossa and Mae are sent once again to Rita’s home, as their parents’ marriage finally seems to crumble. At first it seems that the strangeness has dissipated. But Sweet James never left. He has been lurking within the walls, waiting the perfect time to return. He’s been waiting much longer than any of them know—any of them except Rita, who has been keeping secrets of her own. Secrets that bring the house down in flames around them and bring them all to the brink of the things they most want—and what they most fear.

The Perfect Assassin by K A Doore 

Divine justice is written in blood.Or so Amastan has been taught. As a new assassin in the Basbowen family, he’s already having second thoughts about taking a life. A scarcity of contracts ends up being just what he needs. Until, unexpectedly, Amastan finds the body of a very important drum chief. Until, impossibly, Basbowen’s finest start showing up dead, with their murderous jaan running wild in the dusty streets of Ghadid. Until, inevitably, Amastan is ordered to solve these murders, before the family gets blamed. Every life has its price, but when the tables are turned, Amastan must find this perfect assassin or be their next target.

Return of the Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

This one is the last in a series so I’m not going to copy the blurb but I simultaneously cannot wait to read this book and am terrified of how the series will end. I don’t want it to end! It’s one of favourite series ever with the cleverest and most awesome thief I’ve read.

I could have done ten to be honest but I was being strict. How about you? Do you want to read any of these books? What is your most anticipated book/s of 2019? Let me know in the comments and feel free to link your lists too.

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Top 10 Tuesdays – 2018 Releases I Still Need to Read

Top 10 Tuesdays is a book tag hosted over at the artsy reader girls blog. This week was a freebie topic and seeing as 2018 is coming to an end I thought what better opportunity to show how badly I’ve done with keeping up with 2018 releases tell you about 2018 releases I’m still looking forward to reading.

To be fair I have been on a book buying ban for the last six months in an attempt to get my owned tbr down to more manageable levels but now that’s a bit more under control (sort of) I can refocus back on some new releases and these are the ones in most excited about.

This was ridiculously hard to narrow down to just ten which just shows you how many 2018 releases I still need to read. It was so hard in fact that I only managed to narrow it down to 14….. Oops. But then I do have a goodreads shelf of about 40 so I still think this is an achievement and it’s not my fault there were so many amazing books being released this year.

I’ve split it into genres to help break it up as I know 14 is a really massive number….

Continue reading

Christmas is coming too fast (SAL)

We’re getting so close to Christmas and unfortunately I’ve run out of time to have my Christmas project finished even though I’ve made a lot of progress.

Here is where I was up to last time I showed you my cross stitch

Photo 05-11-2018, 5 28 33 pm

This time around I’ve managed to finish all the baubles, strings AND the snowflake border. You can even see the start of the bells….

Photo 28-11-2018, 4 02 30 pm

This is the very top of the project so those bells are all I have left to do! I’ll have to get the white thread back out to do some of the bells as I decided on one white and one gold on each side of jingle bells. That will be the last of the stitching but I probably won’t be able to get it all done in time. And even if I did there’s no way I’ll be able to finish it up before christmas. Oh well. There’s always next year.

I’m really in love with it so far though. It’s turning out better than I hoped when I designed it. So I’m just looking forward to seeing what it’s like when it’s done.

Here are the links to everyone else

Avis // Claire // Gun // Carole // LucyAnn// Kate // Sue // Constanze // Debbierose // Christina // Kathy // Margaret // Cindy // Helen // Steph // Linda // Heidi // Jackie // Sunny // Hayley // Tony // Megan // Catherine // Connie // Clare

We share updates on our individual cross stitch projects every three weeks.

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