Review | Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt

unconventional.jpgTitle: Unconventional (2017)
Author: Maggie Harcourt
Publisher: Usborne
Read: 13th – 14th May 2018
Genre: young-adult; contemporary
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

“Lexi Angelo is a Convention Kid – she’s got a clipboard and a walkie talkie to prove it. Aidan Green is a messy-haired, annoyingly arrogant author and he’s disrupting her perfect planning. In a flurry of awkward encounters, lost schedules and late-night conversations, Lexi discovers that some things can’t be planned… Things like falling in love.”
(Synopsis from the publisher)

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Down the TBR Hole #20

Welcome folks to the twentieth round of Down the TBR Hole! As I mentioned in my last round of DtTH (nope, that acronym isn’t particularly attractive, is it?), this little project has been a great way of weening down my TBR over the past year so I’ve decided to keep it up and make it a semi-regular feature in order to spring clean my TBR aka be realistic about what books I aspire to read and what books I actually will read.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, check out the previous posts via the tag or check out Lia at Lost in a Story who is the creator of this wonderful meme/project.

I’m trying to make this a regular feature of my blogging schedule because it’s good to regularly reevaluate if/why you want to read a book – that way you don’t come back to your TBR years later and have no clue why a title piqued your interest in the first place. I’ve also added a summary of results bit at the bottom of each round so I can track how many books I’ve kept and ditched from my TBR shelf in each round and overall.

Just a reminder of how this works:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Outside of doing these posts semi-regularly I have also been culling my TBR list at random points when I’m bored – all of this is good in terms of getting my TBR to a reasonable amount of books but it also means that these posts are getting harder for me to do as I’m beginning to really agonise over whether to ditch or keep books on there. Not that any of this is a bad thing! Let’s get going on the 10 books under scrutiny today…

1. Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

Why is it there? Like a lot of book lovers, I went through a stage of reading The Eyre Affair by the same author which is an extremely playful alternate history book where detective Thursday Next flits into the story of Jane Eyre in pursuit of a criminal. It’s every bit as wacky and meta as it sounds. Fast forward to when I added Shades of Grey onto my TBR list purely because I saw its cover in the library and wanted to remember it. Nowadays, its synopsis is interesting enough but I’m no longer dying to read it so…
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Ditch

2. I’m the King of the Castle by Susan Hill

Why is it there? I know people who had to read this as assigned reading in school but I haven’t read any Susan Hill… and I’m not entirely sure she’s ever really going to be one of my priority ‘must read’ authors. I hear its sad and emotional and involves children and bullying and neglect and I’m just… I’m not sure I ever want to willingly put myself through this.
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Ditch

3. The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

Why is it there? I’m pretty sure this did the rounds on Booktube a good few years ago, when only the first two books of the trilogy were published and folks were highly anticipating the third and final part of the series. I added it to my TBR around that time when I saw it on (I think) Lainey’s channel (gingerreadslainey for those not familiar), but I’m still yet to read it. My library has the audiobook version though so I may very well give it a go in that format…
 Do I own it? No
Verdict? Keep

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Feature | Favourite Eateries #3 ft. Bakchich, Liverpool

If you’ve seen my previous Favourite Eateries, you will have vicariously sampled the delights of The Tavern Co and Lunya. Today, now for something completely different – Lebanese street food via Bakchich on Bold Street in Liverpool.

“Bakchich vision is to introduce Lebanese Street food to Liverpool and Manchester. It is also to educate and help our customers discover about the Arabic food culture, traditions and heritage that unite communities. Bakchich Cafe is Lebanese street food with a french twist, serving variety of Lebanese Mezza with innovations in the traditional Lebanese dishes from Shawarma to Falafel, and baklawa and a wide variety of healthy fruits cocktails, to meet the taste of our food lovers.” (Bakchich)

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Bout of Books 22 | Sign Up & TBR

Oh, look, Emma is back armed with nothing but good intentions and a TBR to foolishly try to participate in yet another readathon even though she kind of sucks at them in terms of productivity! Yep, it’s time for another round of Bout of Books, everyone’s favourite low-key readathon!

For those unaware of the delight that is the Bout of Books readathon, the organisers have a handy blurb available to clue you in:

bob22The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 14th and runs through Sunday, May 20th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 22 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

So this coming week I will be participating in Bout of Books 22 to the best of my ability. I don’t have too much planned, aside from going to see a comedy gig on Friday night, so I should be able to get some much-needed reading time in after work and (especially) at the weekend. Often with Bout of Books, I end up being really quite overly ambitious with my TBR (for proof: see my previous Bout of Books Sign Up & TBR), and my May TBR is pretty damn optimistic already, so I have tried to be conservative and realistic with what I can achieve this time round when constructing my TBR for the readathon. Without further ado, let’s take a look at it…

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V.E. Schwab’s J.R.R. Tolkien Lecture at Pembroke College

Last week, I was fortunate enough to have friends who would indulge my blatant fangirling over one of my favourite authors enough to plan an entire trip to Oxford to indulge this whim. What am I talking about, you ask? Why, V.E. Schwab’s Tolkien Lecture given at Pembroke College, Oxford. Of course. An annual lecture, Pembroke College’s J.R.R. Tolkien Lecture series is organised by students of the college and based on the topic of speculative fiction (often, fantasy and sci-fi), it invites an influential person within the field to speak on the topic. Previous speakers have included Lev Grossman and Susan Cooper and, this year, it added V.E. Schwab to its growing ranks.

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May TBR

Hello folks, I hope you’re all well on what is a rather nice Spring day in England. This past weekend was filled with low-key fun with friends from university who decided to visit me and Liz up in Liverpool and soak up some of that totally unexpected sunshine. We wandered around pretty places, ate a lot of breakfast food, and just generally chatted – it was lovely and exactly what I needed. That meant that my blogging fell by the wayside but rather than bore you with apologies, let’s just get this metaphorical show back on the road with a May TBR post.

You may have seen my recent April Wrap Up and deduced, based on my April TBR post, that I’m not exactly brilliant at sticking to “assigned” books in any given month. That is, I think, the mild way of putting it. However, I am trying. So, to paraphrase Captain Barbossa, the books that appear on these TBRs are more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules… and it is a fun surprise to see how I have fared come the end of the month.

(One thing is for sure – there’s no way I’m getting to all twelve of these books in the month of May unless I develop some wicked speed reading skills… here’s to hoping!)

May TBR

  1. The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman
  2. The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley
  3. The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
  4. Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster
  5. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
  6. Cranford by Elisabeth Gaskell
  7. The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven (for Crone Bloggers Book Club)
  8. The Summer of Us by Cecilia Vinesse (eARC)
  9. The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green (eARC)
  10. The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton (eARC)
  11. The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty (eARC)
  12. Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody (eARC)

What books are you planning to read in the month of May?
Are there any new releases you’re really looking forward to picking up this month?
Are there any readathons happening this month that you’re taking part in?
Let me know in the comments section below!


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Review | Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

fallingkingdomsTitle: Falling Kingdoms (2012)
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Publisher: Penguin
Read: 21st – 24th February 2018
Genre: young-adult; fantasy
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“In a land where magic has been forgotten and peace has reigned for centuries, unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms battle for power… A princess must journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long-thought extinct. A rebel becomes the leader of a bloody revolution. A Sorceress discovers the truth about the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield. It’s the eve of war. Each must choose a side. KINGDOMS WILL FALL.” (Synopsis from the publisher)

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Wrap Up | April 2018

Welcome one, welcome all, to my April Wrap Up. April opened up with the end of the Easter weekend which, for me, meant a whole lot of relaxing and doing not very much apart from staying home and reading. There were 2 very important events on my calendar for April – seeing Hairspray when its UK touring production came to the Liverpool Empire and seeing Avengers: Infinity War. I enjoyed both very much – though “enjoyment” seems a loaded word for the latter, for reasons why you can check out my “discussion” post about it but DO NOT read it unless you’ve seen all the MCU films, Infinity War included. Aside from this, there were a couple of book releases and readathons in April and it’s been generally a good month overall in terms of books, films, work, and life in general.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at the books I read in the month of April:

In April, I read a total of 7 books 6 fiction and non-fiction – and were re-reads (marked by *). This amounted to 2129 pages in total.

In terms of format: were paperback and 1 was an audiobook.

And as for genre, very broadly speaking, 2 were YA fantasywere children’s fantasy, was a YA dystopianwas science-fiction, and 1 was non-fiction.

Onto the books themselves…

apr2018

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Discussion/Brain Dump | Avengers: Infinity War

In case you hadn’t guessed from the title this is a “discussion” of Avengers Infinity War. I hesitate to use the word discussion because it’s going to be more of an (probably) incoherent jumble of thoughts/gushing about the film as I try to process what the hell I actually watched. It is SPOILERS GALORE so, seriously, if you haven’t seen Avengers Infinity War yet or, in fact, if you haven’t seen any of the previous Marvel Cinematic Universe films and you intend to, then please (for the love of God) DO NOT read any further, you will be spoiled.

There, I think that’s plenty enough of a spoiler warning to placate Thanos’ demand for “silence”.

infinitywar

And, as a disclaimer that I hate feeling obliged to make but will make nonetheless, I have seen all the MCU films to date. This does not make me an authority, and I’m not claiming to be. I don’t remember the infinite details of all of them (frankly, I loathe some of the films so I haven’t been keen to rewatch them too many times). But I am a HUGE fan of the journey the MCU has been on in the last ten years and I’ve been there for a large portion of that time (2011-2018 still feels like a decent innings, right?) so I’m just speaking as a fan. I haven’t read any of the comic book iterations and I don’t constantly theorise about what elements of them the MCU will incorporate into their films. I just watch the films, enjoy them, and occasionally fall down Wikipedia holes. That’s the extent of my wider reading about them. So this is just one fan’s gushing and theorising (oh boy, is there theorising), probably unsubstantiated, but I’m putting it on record all the same. IS this for you? Probably not. It’s more for me to be able to look back in however many months’ time and check how right or, let’s be realistic, how WRONG I was about this entire film.

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Down the TBR Hole #19

Welcome folks to the nineteenth round of Down the TBR Hole! As I mentioned in my last round of DtTH (nope, that acronym isn’t particularly attractive, is it?), this little project has been a great way of weening down my TBR over the past year so I’ve decided to keep it up and make it a semi-regular feature in order to spring clean my TBR aka be realistic about what books I aspire to read and what books I actually will read.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, check out the previous posts via the tag or check out Lia at Lost in a Story who is the creator of this wonderful meme/project.

I’m trying to make this a regular feature of my blogging schedule because it’s good to regularly reevaluate if/why you want to read a book – that way you don’t come back to your TBR years later and have no clue why a title piqued your interest in the first place. I’ve also added a summary of results bit at the bottom of each round so I can track how many books I’ve kept and ditched from my TBR shelf in each round and overall.

Just a reminder of how this works:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Outside of doing these posts semi-regularly I have also been culling my TBR list at random points when I’m bored – all of this is good in terms of getting my TBR to a reasonable amount of books but it also means that these posts are getting harder for me to do as I’m beginning to really agonise over whether to ditch or keep books on there. Not that any of this is a bad thing! Let’s get going on the 10 books under scrutiny today…

1. Invisible: The Dangerous Allure of the Unseen by Philip Ball

Why is it there? There are sprinklings of random non-fiction books on my TBR, largely because I occasionally watch Booktubers (such as Charlotte of Chareads) who mostly read non-fiction and this title is definitely an example of that. I’m still intrigued by the premise but I so rarely pick up non-fiction that is there really any point in keeping this book listed on my TBR when I’m trying to be realistic about what books I’m likely to actually read?
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Ditch

2. Lexicon by Max Barry

Why is it there? This was a cover buy – I saw it on Booktube and decided I really needed to own a book with such a stunning cover. Since then, I have done precisely zero in terms of actually picking it up to read it. I went to the trouble of buying the hardback edition used though because that cover was so much prettier than the paperback options available, so I can’t really just ditch this book without feeling guilty about all the effort Past Emma went to in order to acquire it.
Do I own it? Yes
Verdict? Keep

3. Night Film by Marisha Pessl

Why is it there? This book definitely did the rounds a few years ago and I’ve still not got to it. I have bought it though, so that’s undoubtedly the first step. As I understand it this book is twisty and turny and told through different documents (newspaper, Internet pages etc.) as well as your typical narrative you’d expect in a book. All of this means that it seems like something you really need to read in one go, or at least you need to devote all of your reading time to it (forgoing the temptations to read other books simultaneously), in order to get the full effect. One day I will be in the mood to do that (hopefully).
Do I own it? Yes
Verdict? Keep

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