27 May 2020

Believathon II - Journey to the Stronghold

"An evil witch has placed a curse on the Book-Keeper's Stronghold in the far North. Because of this curse, books have become trapped to everyone but you, so people in the Land of Make-Believathon are beginning to lose their imaginations. You are the only person with the courage and strength to embark on this quest."

Believe in the Impossible Readathon is run by Gavin Hetherington (@TheGavGav7) on Twitter and YouTube and is a great way to get more people reading middle grade and children's books. 

Like everyone, I started off at the Poacher's Pocket Inn and my first reading prompt was to read the first book in a series. For this I read Potkin and Stubbs by Sophie Green which I gave 3.5 stars.


As thanks for agreeing to the quest, a stranger offered me a wish from a genie lamp - skip 1 location on the map. I used my wish to skip through the Yellow Brick Road and go straight into the Deepwoods: read a book published before 2000 (I misread this as 2020, oops!) I chose to read The Umbrella Mouse by Anna Fargher, another 3.5 star read for me.

The next location on my journey was Orion Found: read a sci-fi book. I heard a lot of good things about Christopher Edge lately so chose The Jamie Drake Equation. A brilliant choice as I gave it 4.5 stars.


Then I was off to my final destination, the Book-Keeper's Stronghold. For this I had to read the next book in a series and I chose Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend. I've been wanting to read this one for ages so this was the perfect prompt. It also turned out to be my favourite book of the challenge at 5 stars!

I also made a couple of little detours with some audiobooks on the side. Baba Yaga's house with WildSpark by Vashti Hardy and Black Ice Bridge with The Spy Who Loved School Dinners by Pamela Butchart.

Back in November I participated in the first Believathon and created a Believe in the Ginpossible cocktail. See HERE for the post and recipe.

16 May 2020

Favourite Lines From Books

There are some great lines in books that have stayed with me long after finishing, even when I no longer remembered where they came from or who said them. Some of these are from recent releases and some are from books I read years ago. You may even know some of these from previous Booktails posts.

Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

Believe that you can make your own way. Or don't. Either way, you are right.

The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh

'I imagine it would be freeing to care only about oneself.' She heaved a dramatic sigh. 'Alas, I am not a man.'

Of course I could fill pages and pages with quotes here from the wonderful Terry Pratchett, but I've tried to narrow it down to just a few:

The Wee Free Men

If you trust in yourself,
And believe in your dreams,
And follow your star,
You'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard learning things and weren't so lazy.

But that time it was magic, and it didn't stop being magic just because you found out how it was done.

The Last Continent

Discworld is a world and a mirror of worlds. 

(Basically the perfect description of all Terry Pratchett's Discworld books!)

We put all our politicians in prison as soon as they're elected. Saves time.

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

You have ink in your blood boy, and no help for it. Books will never be just a business to you.

Deeplight by Frances Hardinge

It was like finding yourself surrounded by starving people and suddenly realising that you were made out of bread.

Crownbreaker by Sebastien de Castell

How could anyone get by with only two high-ceilinged libraries?

And of course no list is complete without something from Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling:

It does not do to dwell on dreams, and forget to live.

What are some of your favourite lines from books you've read?

2 May 2020

Mix and Match 7

The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky - Mackenzi Lee 
Monty and Percy have finally declared their love for each other, but it's not quite as easy as happily ever after. Some parts are laugh-out-loud funny as they navigate the start of their new relationship and trying to get it together. I love both characters but I have to say that Felicity is still my favourite!
I really enjoyed the first 2 books of the series so was very excited to hear of this one. The book itself is so pretty, with lovely illustrations and cute doodly pages separating the chapters.
Thanks to Harper 360 for letting me have a copy!


Siege and Storm - Leigh Bardugo
Alina and Mal try to make a life for themselves after escaping the Darkling. They hope he's been killed by the volcra (horrible creatures that remind me of dementors) but know it's unlikely they would be so lucky! Although she was horrified by the lengths the Darkling went through to get the amplifier on her, she realises she needs more power if she is going to have any chance of beating him.
I really liked Nikolai, an intriguing and mysterious new character. I enjoyed this book just as much as the first and very much looking forward to the final book of the trilogy. I need to know what is going to happen!

Miss Iceland - Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir
Hekla is unsatisfied with life in her hometown and jumps at the chance to move to Reykjavik, though life there still isn't quite what she was hoping.
I haven't read many translated books so it was quite interesting how different literature can be and I really enjoyed the writing style. I also loved all the Swedish names and places. However, nothing much happens throughout the book so it didn't really keep me gripped. Hekla is so matter of fact about everything, I just couldn't feel the passion that is supposed to be driving her and that I'm sure she has inside. The ending was a bit disappointing, but I think maybe I just didn't quite get it?
Thanks to Pushkin Press for this book which releases on 16th June I think!

Unleashed - Amy McCulloch
At the end of book 1 we were left with Lacey unconscious so I was very excited to get to this book. Unfortunately it took a while to really keep my attention. Lacey is supposed to be super-smart but she seems quite clueless through the first part of the book. There are some really obvious things that she just ignores or forgets as soon as she's told, and a couple of events just seem to be glossed over. Luckily after the shaky start it got really gripping, even as I got near the end I couldn't see how it was all going to be resolved but there was a great ending.

Season of the Witch - Sarah Rees Brennan
I liked the way this was written, mostly from Sabrina's point of view but in between were chapters (on black pages) which were almost story-telling and from different points of view. These insights from other characters was really interesting.
It was also fun getting to meet Nick Scratch before Sabrina runs into him!

I'm drinking The Last Word cocktail. Shake the following with lots of ice and strain into a glass: 1 shot gin, 2/3 shot Green Chartreuse, 2/3 shot maraschino, 2/3 shot lime juice.

19 April 2020

Book Fun!

The current lockdown has given me lots more time to play with my books, including arranging my shelves to fit more in, and of course, buying plenty more. This helps with missing all the fun book events and festivals I normally would have gone to. I have recently been seeing lots of lovely book things on twitter and thought I would have a go too!

Spine poetry is fun and a great way to be creative, even if you're not normally any good at writing poems. Here are some of mine:


Another really beautiful thing to make is a book rainbow:


And lastly a very special TBR rainbow with some of my most anticipated books!

Can you make any spine poetry out of some of your favourite books? Be sure to share your book rainbows!

11 April 2020

The Foundling - Stacey Halls

Bess has no option but to leave baby Clara at The Foundling, a hospital where children are raised and looked after until their mothers can come back for them if their situations ever improve. After 6 years of saving money, Bess thinks she finally has enough to get her daughter back but when she goes to claim her, she's told that Clara has already been claimed!

How heartbreaking it must be to have to leave your baby somewhere, even if you believe that they will be better cared for there than you could ever do. It seems like Bess has such a hard life, though even she is better off than some of the others leaving their babies. It's wonderful how her father, Abe's, care for Bess is described even though he seems so gruff and untalkative. On the other hand, her brother Ned talks as if he cares but doesn't actually do anything to help her or the family. The two men are so opposite in their behaviours.

There are so many mysteries, I never could have imagined how this would be resolved, but it does have a wonderful ending.
I really loved listening to this audiobook. It is full of such wonderful descriptions and heartfelt emotions and the narration is great, really bringing the story to life.

I've slightly adapted a Lost & Found Cocktail to fit the ingredients I have at home. Shake the following ingredients with lots of ice: 2 shots of gin, 1 shot of apple sourz, a dash of sugar syrup and 6 dashes of angostura bitters. Strain into a tall glass filled with ice and top up with soda.