Top 15 Books of 2015

Wednesday, 23 December 2015 2 comments
Hey guys! Personally, 2015 has been an amazing reading year for me. In December 2014, I set myself a goal to read 50 books and at the time, I strongly believed that to be a push. In previous years I barely read 10 books, let alone 5 times that amount! To celebrate this momentous occasion, and to coincide with my 16 Most Anticipated Books of 2016 post, I am here today to discuss the 15 books that I feel were top notch throughout the past year!

As it currently stands, I have read 69/50 books. That's 19 books over my initial target! I have previously extended this target to see if I can reach 70 books and as you can see, I'm almost there! Now when it comes to choosing my favourite books of the year, you can imagine it's very difficult to narrow down the list from 70 to just 15. Extremely difficult in fact! Unfortunately, not every book that I have loved can be mentioned, because that would easily go beyond my recommended 15 and what's the point if it doesn't match the year! We need to have some cohesion in this blog! 

It goes without saying, therefore, that if there is a book that I adored that isn't on the list, it doesn't necessarily mean it isn't worthy of my list. In fact, there are many that should and very much could be on this list, but I've been strict with myself. So without further ado, and in no particular order, here are my Top 15 Books of 2015!

Trouble by Non Pratt
When the entire high school finds out that Hannah Shepard is pregnant via her ex-best friend, she has a full-on meltdown in her backyard. The one witness (besides the rest of the world): Aaron Tyler, a transfer student and the only boy who doesn’t seem to want to get into Hannah’s pants. Confused and scared, Hannah needs someone to be on her side. Wishing to make up for his own past mistakes, Aaron does the unthinkable and offers to pretend to be the father of Hannah’s unborn baby. Even more unbelievable, Hannah hears herself saying “yes.”

Told in alternating perspectives between Hannah and Aaron, Trouble is the story of two teenagers helping each other to move forward in the wake of tragedy and devastating choices. As you read about their year of loss, regret, and hope, you’ll remember your first, real best friend—and how they were like a first love.

 Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart ... 

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Laia is a slave. 

Elias is a soldier. 

Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

One by Sarah Crossan
Grace and Tippi are twins – conjoined twins.

And their lives are about to change.

No longer able to afford homeschooling, they must venture into the world – a world of stares, sneers and cruelty. Will they find more than that at school? Can they find real friends? And what about love?

But what neither Grace or Tippi realises is that a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead. A decision that could tear them apart. One that will change their lives even more than they ever imagined… 

Talon by Julie Kagawa
Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon's newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember's bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons. 

Magnus Chase and The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan
Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.

One day, he’s tracked down by a man he’s never met—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. The man tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.

The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.

When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.

Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London—but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her 'proper adventure'.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—trickier than they hoped.

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

 Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

Because You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas
Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Contact with it causes debilitating seizures. Moritz’s weak heart is kept pumping by an electronic pacemaker. If they ever did meet, Ollie would seize. But Moritz would die without his pacemaker. Both hermits from society, the boys develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline during dark times—as Ollie loses his only friend, Liz, to the normalcy of high school and Moritz deals with a bully set on destroying him.

A story of impossible friendship and hope under strange circumstances, this debut is powerful, dark and humorous in equal measure. These extraordinary voices bring readers into the hearts and minds of two special boys who, like many teens, are just waiting for their moment to shine.

Simon vs The Homosapiens Agenda by Becki Albertalli
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it... or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Winter by Marissa Meyer
Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

Now that we have a comprehensive list of all 15 titles I have chosen for my Top 15 post, which books were ranked in my Top 3 and deserve special recommendation? Well...

Out of all of the books I have read this year, these 3 were definitely the strongest contenders and I found myself enjoying them immensely! Have you read either of these? What did you think?

So those are my Top 15 books of 2015! Let me know in the comments which you have read, which you are eager to read, and whether you think they deserve to be on my list! 

November Book Haul

Thursday, 17 December 2015 0 comments

Hey guys! I thought I'd do a little post that amalgamates all of the photos I've put together on Instagram over the past few weeks to document the books I got in the month of November! Now these are a combination of books that I've either bought myself, been given by my blogging friends or have been sent by the wonderful people in the publishing industry! I thought I'd turn this into a monthly segment for my blog so you guys can see the books that I'll be reviewing in the near future, and hopefully this builds up your excitement for them as much as mine! 

Now I admit, this book haul is a little bit late purely because I've been away and I haven't had a chance to photograph all of the books that I've received this month. My December book haul might come around a bit earlier than anticipated because of the fact that with moving, I can't take all of my books with me so therefore it might be slightly delayed! Thus, doing it earlier will help me out a great deal! From January you should also expect there to be less books in my book hauls due to the fact that there isn't as much space for books where I'll be going, which is sad.

So without further ado, here are the books that I received in the month of November!

This month, I was super proud of myself because I only bought one book this month. The rest were either sent to me by publishers or received from people. I'm incredibly grateful as per usual. This month I'm hauling 12 books which is an improvement from last time. Only a slight improvement, but still, progress is progress! 

For reference, please ignore The Young Elites in the photograph, I realised I hauled this a long time ago after the photograph was taken and I lost the light to be able to take it again. Instead, please replace it in your minds with Carry On by Rainbow Rowell! 


This month I was incredibly fortunate because I received 4 books. 3 of which are to review, and one of them I received as part of a book subscription box!

The Island and Illuminae were sent from Rock the Boat - I've already reviewed Illuminae but this final copy was sent to add to my collection. Beautiful Broken Things was sent by Gill over at The Happy Reader (Book Magpie on Twitter) Finally, Wolf by Wolf was the book in the Illumicrate book subscription box!

These are the books I received and their release dates:
  • The Island by Olivia Levez (March 3rd 2015)
  • Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard (February 11th 2016)
  • Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (October 22nd 2015)
  • Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin (November 5th 2015)


This month I was very good and very restrained because I only bought 1 book. To me, that is incredibly impressive!  

This particular book was one I had pre-ordered a while back, and that was Winter by Marissa Meyer, the fourth and final instalment in the Lunar Chronicles series, not counting the novellas of course.

If you haven't read any of the Lunar Chronicles books, I highly recommend them. 

These are the books I received and their release dates:
  • Winter by Marissa Meyer (November 10th 2015)


This month I was incredibly fortunate because an author send a signed copy of her latest book to me but I also won two giveaways! One from Rhys at Thirst for Fiction and another from Charnell's at Reviews from a Bookworm. 

I can't thank both of these people enough, they're seriously the nicest. Thank you Rhys for Stand Off and Winger, and Charnell for The Wrath and The Dawn, The Rose Society, My True Love Gave to Me and Carry On!

*Once again, please ignore The Young Elites, and instead replace it with Carry On in your mind! I will be referring to it as Carry On below.

These are the books I received and their release dates:
  • The Rose Society by Marie Lu (October 13th 2015)
  • *Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (October 6th 2015)
  • Through the Dark by Alexandra Bracken (October 6th 2015)
  • The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh (May 12th 2015)
  • My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins (November 5th 2015)
  • Winger by Andrew Smith (May 14th 2013)
  • Stand Off by Andrew Smith (September 10th 2015)

So there we have it! All 12 books! I'm super excited about this month's haul. I cannot wait to get around to some of these. Some I have already finished and I can tell you now that they are brilliant. Definitely would recommend Winter and Illuminae!

Let me know what books you guys have recently purchased/received for review etc in the comments below or on any of my social media platforms. I'd love to hear about them! If you have any specific recommendations then definitely let me know, I'm always open to suggestions!

16 Books I'm Excited to Read in 2016

Hey guys! With 2015 slowly and surely coming to a close, I have decided to look forward into next year and all of the amazing releases that are we are being gifted with. Therefore, today I am going to be doing a post informing you of the 16 books that I am highly anticipating for the year of 2016! All of the release dates below are current dates from Goodreads. If any are incorrect, I apologise, please do let me know in the comments. So without further ado, let's get started!


Book 1: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E.Schwab (ADSOM #2) - Released 23rd February.

Book 2: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken (Passenger #1) - Released 5th January.

Book 3: Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen #2) - Released 9th February.

Book 4: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan (Trials of Apollo #1) - Released 3rd May.


Book 5: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab (Monsters of Verity #1) - Released 7th June.

Book 6: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton - Released 8th March.

Book 7: The Sleeping Prince by Melinda Salisbury (TSED #2) - Released 4th February.

Book 8: A World Without You by Beth Revis - Released 19th July.


Book 9: Untitled by Sarah J Maas (Throne of Glass #5)- Released Summer 2016.

Book 10: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas (ACOTAR #2) - Released 3rd May.

Book 11: Stars Above by Marissa Meyer (Lunar Chronicles) - Released 2nd February.

Book 12: Heartless by Marissa Meyer - Released 8th November.


Book 13: Soldier by Julie Kagawa (Talon #3) - Released 26th April.

Book 14: The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan (Magnus Chase #2) - Released 4th October.

Book 15: A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir (AEITA #2) - Released 30th August.

Book 16: Radio Silence by Alice Oseman - Released 26th February.


And there we have it! The 16 books I am most excited to read in the year of 2016! Here's hoping I enjoy all of them - I'm sure I will. 

What books are you excited for in 2016? Have you got any of the books above on your list to read? Let me know in the comments below, I'm always on the hunt for new books to read!

Book Review #74: The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands

Friday, 11 December 2015 0 comments
Please note that before you read this review that I am reviewing this publication for Puffin. I received an advanced readers copy of this title in exchange for an honest review. In no way is my opinion influenced by the fact that I received this free of charge. Now on with the review.

TitleThe Blackthorn Key
AuthorKevin Sands
Publisher: Puffin
Format: Paperback
Publication DateSeptember 3rd 2015
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
PurchaseThe Book Depository / Waterstones

London, 1665. Fourteen-year-old Christopher Rowe is apprenticed to master apothecary Benedict Blackthorn. In Blackthorn’s shop, Christopher learns the delicate secrets of transforming simple ingredients into powerful medicines, potions and weapons. His beloved master guides him with a firm, steady hand—instilling in him the confidence and independence that prove increasingly vital as Christopher learns of a mysterious cult preying on the most learned men in London. The murders are growing closer and closer to home and soon Christopher is torn from the shop with only a page of cryptic clues from his master and the unambiguous warning—‘Tell no one.’

Helped by his best friend, Tom, Christopher must decipher his master’s clues, following a trail of deceit towards an unearthly secret with the power to tear the world apart.

After being approached by the publishers about this novel, being pitched as similar to Rick Riordan, I had to pick it up. Whilst it took me a while to read, solely down to my lack of free time and nothing against the book, The Blackthorn Key from Kevin Sands had me gripped from the very first page. The Blackthorn Key follows the tale of young Christopher, an apprentice to a master apothecary. Whilst at first glances (ignoring the synopsis) I assumed this novel to take the plot of perfecting some potion, it soon took a drastic turn. With murder, puzzle solving, political intrigue, religious cults, The Blackthorn Key packs a mighty punch as a middle grade novel, and the journey our main character goes on throughout this novel definitely reflects just how much work Sands has put into his debut.

Set in the 17th Century, Sands builds up his world with historical accuracy - never overloading the reader with too much information that would turn some off the book. Every detail was woven into the story beautifully and the way Sands introduced political intrigue in this book was stunning. With both royal and religious powers in play, you were able to see the dynamics between both parties and more importantly, the accuracy of the historical era the book is set in.

The characters in this book were all very strong and I found each of them to be extremely likeable in their own ways. Starting with the main protagonist, Christopher - he is confident, witty and yet there are small elements of fragility to his character that really make him realistic. Using his intellect, a lot of the choices Christopher makes in this novel are very logical and thought through. This not only makes the situations in this novel feel very fluid and accurate, but also gives the book a healthy pace and creates a bond of realism between character and reader. In my opinion, what Sands does for creating strong and powerful friendships in this book is phenomenal. The friendship between Christopher and his best friend feels so organic and natural that you would never question just how real it feels as you read along. They have a relationship not to dissimilar to what could be referred to these days as a 'bromance' and I was incredibly interested to see their relationship develop. The antagonists were powerful and intrinsic to read about and the development throughout the novel added a lot of depth that really prolongs the story, well after the reader has finished the final page purely down to the logic behind their actions. It definitely leaves the reader questioning their morals and ideals beyond the boundaries of the book. I think my only slight query with the characters was the lack of female presence in this book. Beyond powerful and adorable children, a mother character and a pigeon, I felt that this book was very one sided in terms of attracting a very male centred audience. Whilst in some lights I find this to be refreshing due to the fact that younger males don't tend to be as interested in reading as females, I would have liked to have seen some more female characters that young girls could relate with when reading.

The plot of this book is fast paced and constantly surprising. With every page turn, our main character is faced with a new dilemma that is logically thought through and practically tackled - only to have the process repeat. Whilst some people may find this slightly repetitive, I think it only empowered the book and made it that much stronger to read. This repetitive process amplifies the struggles brought about in the plot and made the scenarios seem that little bit more realistic. Although being a middle grade novel, you would assume the plot to be more on the simplistic side, it is not the case for The Blackthorn Key. Sands not only packs his novel with powerful messages about family and the perils of loss, but woven throughout the story are darker themes and events that I haven't often seen tackled in other middle grade I've read. Whilst some themes such as murder and cults may shock younger readers, it's nothing too extreme that you won't want them reading it. It's tackled in a unique way where although it's mentioned frequently, it's also glazed over slightly, making the reader aware of the situation without going into heavy details.

The only other query I had about the book was the fluidity of the writing style as the book went on. In the beginning and during descriptive scenes, Sands creates beautiful imagery and prose that will intrigue readers into reading on. His pace is on the whole, consistent and healthy. However, I found myself feeling a bit too rushed during some of the faster paced scenes where the characters had limited time to make decisions. Whilst realistic in the idea, I did find myself questioning whether it needed to be rushed through that fast. A lot of those faster paced scenes would have benefited from Sands' fluid description to flesh out the scene more to allow the reader to fully absorb what was going on.

All in all this was a fantastic middle grade debut and I thoroughly enjoyed it. As part of a series you can bet I am going to be picking up the sequel, but what is wonderful about this book is how it works on it's own. Similar to how I have seen VE Schwab end A Darker Shade of Magic, the novel stands as a conclusive ending that readers will enjoy, and yet opens the world up to so many more opportunities for Christopher's adventures to begin. I award The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands a 4 out of 5 star rating on my classification scale. Sands is definitely an author that readers should be keeping their eyes on in the next few years. His debut was an utter delight!

How reading has not only changed my year, but also saved my life

Friday, 4 December 2015 2 comments

Hey guys! Today I thought I'd write up something a bit different to what you would normally see on this blog, and it links quite nicely into my previous discussion posts that I've written. Whilst I know that these posts are in small quantity and are quite sporadically placed, I've been thinking about the past year and just how much I've actually read, especially with the end of the year coming up.  It's actually coming up my 1 year anniversary of this blog too on the 29th December, so it ties in quite nicely. I look forward to your celebratory tweets and cake - especially the cake. Now this post is going to be a little close to home and personal the further down you get it, so if you're not a fan of learning about my personal life I totally understand, but I strongly believe it's something I need to get out in the open. Oh and fair warning, the ending gets a bit soppy and thankful. You have been warned.

So, where do I begin? Well, in December 2014, I decided to step up and make myself known in the blogging world. I had attempted to achieve this before, but with little success or enjoyment. Of course, being a regular book blogger suggests that you need to read, either casually or consistently. For me, this two parallels were never quite where I wanted to go with my blog. Casually felt too lazy for me -after all I find myself to be quite active and that reading habit just wasn't for me. Alternatively, reading consistently just wasn't quite me either. Contrary to the belief of my peers, I don't actually have that much free time, despite how much time I spend on Social Media. I see bloggers reading 10+ books a month and whilst that impresses me, it also terrifies me to think that is the level we as bloggers should be aiming for. But should we be aiming that high? After all, we all want to achieve in life but should we be striving to be the best blogger we can be? Yes and no. More on that discussion in a few posts time. For me, this balance was found in simply reading when I could, whilst still being able to have a manageable amount of content for my blog. 

A year on and over 65 books read this year so far, I started considering why I had read so much. What impact is it having on my life? Why did I even bother to originally start pressuring myself to read so consistantly? Is it even healthy to be reading this much? Admiring these questions from a distance I have to think back a few years. I used to be a healthy reader when I was younger, and I read for enjoyment as all children should. However, this trait didn't continue through my teens. 

Many of you will not know this because I don't advertise it, but I struggled with severe mental health many  years back. I couldn't even feel like I could go to my family with it incase I worried them. It's cliche to say, but I literally felt alone. It was really that bad. No person should ever have to go through that. My self confidence really didn't help the situation either. However, the one thing that managed to lighten my mood during those dark days were books. Whilst my family questioned why every summer I would suddenly devour up to 20 books in two weeks and not the rest of the year, I simply passed it off as enjoyment and something to pass the time. Looking deeper into this thought, I realised it wasn't just a way for me to think positively, it broadened my mind to whole new worlds, to new personalities and opinions. It made my world that little bit bigger by simply believing in all of the ideals that were brought about in the pages of my books by these phenomenal authors.

With all of these new outlooks on the world, I pushed myself to be more confident, to ask for help, to accept that it was okay to be different and that my mental health didn't have to define me. I could be stereotypically 'normal.' That is, if I ever wanted to be? After my rebirth as I like to think of it (as corny and cheesy and embarrassing as that sounds) I took to reading casually, to simply lighten my mood and to fill my days with endless amounts of wonder and I wanted to branch out, to extend my passion to others. Sadly, not many of my friends were big readers, they wanted to stay inside and play on their consoles, shooting players to kill in game reenactments of wars gone by. This is when I discovered Tumblr. Tumblr was a place where I could talk to anyone about books, and they didn't ever have to know who I was. It was pure bliss. I got to share my opinions with people, get in debates about who I shipped in books and generally revel in bookish conversation. 

Then I realised that I could extend my discussions into book reviews, and that people would actually enjoy reading them and actively respond to my thoughts. Initially, I tried and my blog kind of plummeted. People only seemed to want to reblog photos I had previously reblogged elsewhere and my original content seemed to be getting lost and ignored in the mass of recycled teen garbage. This set me on a track of where I suddenly found myself keeping my opinions to myself, and this apparently seemed to have an odd effect on my schoolwork. My literature teacher would often comment that my writing when discussing texts was very strong and often very self centred around my opinion, and not really accepting that of others. Whilst for my essays this was quite dangerous if I ever wanted to pass, my teacher seemed to be able to understand where I was coming from. I swear to this day that woman was psychic because I never explained about the way in which I wrote, I kind of just accepted it. 

December 2014 came around, and I decided I had enough of my failed attempt into blogging. I was going to rebrand myself as someone who read often enough to keep his followers updated, someone who was going to interact and engage more, and someone who was going to attempt to make friends with other bloggers. All along with as reading as much as he possibly could. So, The Blogger's Bookshop was born! 

Coming up a year now, I look back and realise just how far I've come and just how much I've achieved in that space of time. Looking directly at my reading habits, I have read almost 70 books this year, which is crazy! Considering I wouldn't even  have read a quarter of that least year, it's astounding to me. In that time I have also made some amazing blogger friends whom I truly couldn't do what I do without, they're so supportive and frankly the best damn group of people on the internet. I've also made amazing connections with publishers and authors, and as a newbie in this blogging industry, it fills my little heart with joy. Okay, I'm getting too happy now. It's Christmas, blame that. 

From an insignificant, social recluse with a self centred opinion on books, I feel I have flourished in both my confidence but also my wider view on the world. Reading has opened up my mind to diversity, to being aware of social injustice, to appreciating little details and to authors genuinely caring about what they write about, because it really does come through strongly. This past year has been amazing for me, and I cannot wait to see what next year brings. Apologies if this post got a bit soppy, but you're going to have to deal with me for the years to come, because heck: why should I change for anyone when I've come so far? If I don't speak to you again before the new year, I'll see all you crazy fools in 2016! 

November Wrap Up & December TBR

Wednesday, 2 December 2015 0 comments

So I thought I would start a little segment on my blog that I know is very popular around the book blogging community and that is to discuss what I read in the previous month and what I intend, or hope to read in the following month. So here goes nothing, this is my November Wrap Up and my TBR for the month of December!

Okay, compared to the atrocity that was my October wrap up, November wasn't too bad. I only had my TBR set at five books, and one of them I had already started! Out of the 5 I managed to complete 4 of them (with one being a continuation from October and another just tipping into the boundaries of December.) To be quite honest, I'm relatively proud of that because whilst there has been so much going on in my life with preparing to up and move and prepping for a new job starting in January, things have been quite casual on the reading front and you know what? I'm alright with that. I also attempted (barely) NaNoWrimo this month and whilst I think I only wrote 5000 words (if that) that took up my first week. All in all, I don't think I did horrifically. I know I owe publishers and authors reviews for books long past but you're just going to have to be a little more patient with me and I'll get to them as soon as I can! This month unfortunately I had to DNF a book, which is always a shame but there were just too many elements getting on my nerves for me to complete it, but more on that later. In terms of my Goodreads reading challenge, I currently stand at 67/50 books, meaning I am 22 books ahead of schedule and only 8 books away from my new target of 75 books! Whilst this could be manageable, with everything that is going on I can't see myself reading 8 books this month. We'll have to see, but perhaps I'll lower it down to 70. 3 books is manageable right? So without further ado, lets see what books I read this month and my opinions on them!

1. Truthwitch by Susan Dennard (5/5 stars)
Overall, if you like inventive uses of a magic system, swashbuckling princes, empowering female leads, a bond of friendship that topples any currently written and action, then this is definitely a book for you. Truthwitch has been one of my most anticipated realises and I have to admit that it completely blew me out of the water. It constantly surprised me, intrigued me and left me emotionally crippled at times. But then again, which good book doesn't? This is not a book you are going to want to miss out on. Don your swords, and prepare for a thrilling and mind-blowing adventure to unfold. The Witchlands await.

2. The Light that Gets Lost by Natasha Carthew (2/5 stars/DNF)
Going into this book I first noticed the very unusual writing style and just by reading the first few chapters I already found the story to be slightly disjointed. For a book set in Cornwall, the characters all seemed to sound like stereotypical hillbilly's. It just wasn't working for me. The inner demon was getting ridiculous and old, and there was just too much shrugging and 'whatever's to make this interesting for me. It was such a shame too because the premise of this book sounded awesome, but unfortunately it just did not deliver in the way it should have. The only reason I have it 2 stars instead of 1 was the fact that something about it kept me intrigued. I think it was the extent to find out what was going on, and even in the end that diminished. For me, this was a DNF book, but perhaps I'll try it again in the future with more of an open mind.

3. Winter by Marissa Meyer (5/5 stars)
This novel really exemplifies everything that this story stands for, and readers will truly admire everything Meyer has done to conclude this journey. It is without a doubt that this novel is clearly one of my favourites of the year, perhaps even the novel to beat.Readers will definitely not be disappointed with how well Meyer has crafted her conclusion to this stunning series. It is with deep sadness that I have to say goodbye to this series because it is definitely one I am going to miss being a part of. The world, the characters, everything that has made this series what is is. You can definitely expect me to revisit these books sometime in the near future!

4. The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands (4/5 stars)
This book took me so much longer to read than it deserved and this was no way the fault of the book, because every time I picked it up to read, I kept devouring it quicker than I could turn the pages. This is a middle grade novel that has much darker and underlying themes than you would expect. It's writing is beautifully fluid, the characters are memorable and dramatic and the plot is very hands on and gripping. There were some elements I had issues with, more specifically how rushed some of the adrenaline filled scenes felt but all in all I still thoroughly enjoyed it. My heart went out to the main protagonist and I look forward to reading more! If you like murder, mystery and alchemy with a hint of religious cults then this is definitely for you. Think Rick Riordan meets Dan Brown. It's phenomenal.

So those were the 4 books that I managed to read in the month of November! As for December, with more preparing to move, an induction week at the school I start my new job at and Christmas, it's going to be pretty hectic so hopefully I can find sometime to read! This month I'm aiming to find some books that either have a wintery feel to them or remind me of the festive season. Expect mostly contemporaries with some added extras thrown into the mix! So without further ado, here are the books that I'm anticipating to read in the month of December!

  • Snow like Ashes by Sara Rasasch
  • My True Love Gave to Me Short Story Collection edited by Stephanie Perkins
  • Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn
  • Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
  • Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard (ARC)
  • What We Left Behind by Robin Talley (ARC)
So those are the books that I am aiming to read some of in the month of December. Once again, I know it's adventurous considering everything I have going on, but but here's hoping I get some of them done at least. 

Let me know in the comments below what books you read this month and one book you're looking forward to reading next month! Are any of you going to be reading one of the books I'm reading this month?

Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

Tuesday, 1 December 2015 0 comments
Hey guys! I know it's been a while since I've posted but as we are now officially into December, I thought I'd inform you guys of a little change to the blog. It's just a minor thing and I'm sure you're already aware of it by just being on this page, but as I mentioned in a post in October (featured here), I am going to be making my blog seasonal every so often to fit in with the holidays.

If you were a follower of my blog back in October then you may have noticed the theme change to something a bit spookier, and hence The Blogger's Spookshop was risen from the grave for a month!

For the month of December, you can expect no different to the level of dedication I went for the blog. To celebrate the festive season, I have changed up my logo, making it a bit more christmassy, and I have added falling snow to greet you when you click upon my website! Originally I tried playing around with the banner colours, making them festive colours such as red, white and green, but in the end I wasn't happy with them so I just stuck with the blue I have normally and I think it really makes the logo pop!

So in light of the famous saying, enjoy the snow while it lasts because come January 1st, the christmas theme will travel back up the chimney and my original theme will take it's place until Easter when you can expect the next change to be revealed! 

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