Book Haul: February 2015

Well, my limit of 5 book purchases this month didn’t quite work out, did it?! I blame Amazon and their 3 for £10 deal, which is just too good to resist. I also bought five more copies of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”, two of which are the gorgeous hardcover, slipcase edition. I ended up with a total of 19 books purchased this month (at least one of which will be used in a future giveaway).

Some of these books I am so excited to read, but I want to finish at least two of the four books I am currently reading before I jump into anything else. Do you see any of your favourites here? What should I read first? Decisions, decisions.

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Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling (x3)
Everyday – David Levithan
All The Bright Places – Jennifer Niven
Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel
The Best of Me – Nicholas Sparks
The Longest Ride – Nicholas Sparks
Just One Day – Gayle Forman
Talon – Julie Kagawa
Red Moon – Benjamin Percy
Deep Blue – Jennifer Donnelly
The Darkest Part of the Forest – Holly Black
A Darker Shade of Magic – V.E. Schwab
The Fire Sermon – Francesca Haig
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling (x2)
City of Heavenly Fire – Cassandra Clare
The Mime Order (Signed) – Samantha Shannon

I think setting a book-buying limit is kind of pointless. Why should I feel guilty for buying books? They’re hardly a vice, are they?!

My journey will also be instagrammed frequently on @charlottebibliophile

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#42 A Novel Triumph (#13)

With four books currently on the go, I am not ashamed to say that I became slightly intimidated and wanted to briefly avoid them, so I decided to pick up my second graphic novel “Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters” by Rick Riordan as a distraction. It worked. It also happily checked off #42 A book that you own but have never read, from my 2015 Reading Challenge.

My Goodreads Review
Having previously read ‘The Lightning Thief’ Graphic Novel only a month ago (which was my very first graphic novel experience) I decided to pick up ‘The Sea of Monsters’. This edition felt more complete as it was closer to the storyline of the novel, however I felt there was a distinct lack of conversation in this book – several pages were purely pictures.
That being said, it was a fun, quick and easy read. I probably enjoyed it more than the first, but that may have been partly because I knew what to expect going into ‘The Sea of Monsters’. The art is imaginative (in some cases it wasn’t what I had pictured – Clarisse in particular) and the full colour illustrations help bring the story to life.
Personally I wouldn’t read a graphic novel that has been adapted from a full length novel unless I had already read said novel, because the plot can be spoilt in an instant. However, this is where I love these Percy Jackson graphic novels as they are great refreshers before diving into the next book. I would certainly recommend this graphic novel to young and old alike. I for one didn’t really expect to like the reading experience, but I was pleasantly surprised by the level of detail.”

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Comparing a novel to a graphic novel isn’t really fair in theory or practice. They are intrinsically different, and they are designed to be. Whilst I am still not fully convinced by graphic novels, I can accept that they have their place and can be extremely enjoyable to their target demographic. Unfortunately, I just don’t think that I am it. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed it, but I don’t think I’ll ever be convinced that any form of book will be better than the novel.

#42 A book that you own but have never read – Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters: The Graphic Novel (6/10)

Twelve down, thirty-eight to go. (Thirteen read)

My journey will also be instagrammed frequently on @charlottebibliophile

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#51 The One Without A Category (#12)

This was always going to happen, I just didn’t think it would happen so soon. I’ve just read a book that doesn’t meet one of the remaining criteria for my 2015 Reading Challenge. Surprisingly, I’m ok about it (but only because I’m ahead of my goal at present).

For the last year or so I have been randomly re-reading some old books from my childhood that I no longer want to keep (examples include works by Jacqueline Wilson, Cathy Cassidy and Rick Riordan). Instead, it has been my intention to pass these books (once re-read) onto my nine and ten year old cousins, who live in France. It’s better that they have the opportunity to enjoy them, as I once did, than have them clutter up my – already overflowing with books – bedroom. The first such book of 2015 was ‘Buried Alive’ by Jacqueline Wilson, which for the purpose of this blog I have named #51 A Jacqueline Wilson book.

My Goodreads Review
“‘Buried Alive’ is the sequel to ‘Cliffhanger’ by bestselling children’s author, Jacqueline Wilson. I first read this novel when I was about seven, when it was a relatively new release. I was a huge advocate of Jacqueline Wilson, and read pretty much her entire works (the exception being Glubbslyme, which I just couldn’t get into) when I was a child.
I’m currently in the re-reading process, before I hand the books down to my nine and ten year old cousins (I’m very sentimental about my books, I feel they deserve a good send off), so I was slightly disappointed by the lack of storyline in this particular book. Upon reflection, this seems to be the case with Wilson’s earlier books for 8-11 year olds (according to Random House, this is the age range they specify for these books). It is an easy read, primarily issue free novel (the exception being the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation given at the very end of the novel).
I suppose when I was a child this book would have been very amusing, but reading it as an adult, I found it cringey. It was however a tale of friendship, fun and bravery, all good life lessons!”

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I read the majority of this book today in front of the fire. If Sunday’s are not for relaxing and reading, then I don’t know what they’re for! Having re-read ‘Buried Alive’, I don’t feel any sadness at gifting the book to my younger cousins. After all, I’m never going to read it again! Hopefully they can get some enjoyment from it, and then pass it on themselves.

#51 A Jacqueline Wilson book – Buried Alive by Jacqueline Wilson (4/10)

Twelve read. (Eleven down, thirty-nine to go.) – This numbers thing could get confusing from now on…

My journey will also be instagrammed frequently on @charlottebibliophile

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#3 The Leprechaun’s Secret (#11)

Having just finished reading a fantasy last week (‘New Moon’ by Stephenie Meyer) I felt I needed an easier and more lighthearted read next. With the movie adaption due out on DVD in a few weeks, I decided to read ‘Where Rainbows End’ by Cecelia Ahern, which checks off #3 A book that became a movie for the 2015 Reading Challenge.  I seem to remember beginning it when it was newly released (about 10 years ago), but I don’t think I finished it. Maybe I saw the disappointing ending coming…

My Goodreads Review
“‘Where Rainbows End’ (‘Love Rosie’ in the USA) is Cecelia Ahern’s second novel. Following the greatness of ‘P.S. I Love You’ was always going to be difficult to achieve, (I’ve often found “second book syndrome” to exist), but ‘Where Rainbows End’ initially felt as though it was going to break the curse. Unfortunately, it didn’t.
The entire novel is written using letters, emails and IM’s, written from the perspective of the four or five main characters. I grew tired of this storytelling method after a quarter of the book, as there is such little room for character development – it’s as though the whole 500+ page novel was told using direct speech. Having said that, once I was used to the writing style, I began to enjoy working out who was writing the letters, and what was going on in the lives of the characters. I did feel at times that the main character (Rosie) was a bit whiney, but then her life didn’t turn out as she expected it to.
The premise of the book primarily concentrates on Rosie and her lifelong best friend Alex, who moves to the USA unexpectedly just before their last year of school. Ultimately this is a will they/won’t they novel – with marriages, babies and divorces, will Rosie and Alex ever end up together? After what feels like an eternity (they are 50!) we finally get to find out.
I was slightly disappointed with the abruptness of the ending of this book. There was so much potential for an amazing reunion between the two characters, but it was low key and unemotional. Considering I’d invested a lot of time getting to know these characters (and their many flaws) this was somewhat annoying. Regardless, it was still a cute story, and Cecelia Ahern books are perfect chic-lit novels. I’ll always head back to her!”

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Whilst ‘Where Rainbows End’ didn’t live up to my expectations, I will still definitely watch the film at some point this year (and then update my blog post accordingly). I did connect with the characters though, and I felt their pain and anguish at the situation. However, the tagline “Sometimes fate just can’t stop meddling” really couldn’t be further from the truth. Both Rosie and Alex were afraid to admit their feelings, and they let time slip away. It was really nothing to do with fate!

#3 A book that became a movie – Where Rainbows End by Cecelia Ahern (5/10)

Eleven down, thirty-nine to go.

My journey will also be instagrammed frequently on @charlottebibliophile

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#7 Vampires or Werewolves? (#10)

A couple of weeks ago, I felt an unexpected desire to read ‘New Moon’ by Stephenie Meyer. Having previously only read Twilight (in 2013) which I awarded 6/10, I knew I was probably going to pick up the next book in the series at some point, I just didn’t know when. Having completed this supernatural story, it checks off #7 (and my 10th book of the year) A book with non-human characters for the 2015 Reading Challenge.

With vampires and werewolves aplenty, ‘New Moon’ was just the read I needed following a number of contemporaries, and I’m not ashamed to say that I loved it. Probably a little bit too much for a 21-year-old.

My Goodreads Review
“‘New Moon’ is the second book in Stephenie Meyer’s hit vampire/werewolf series, ‘Twilight’. This book begins with Bella turning 18, a year older than vampire Edward will ever be (despite his “actual” age being 109). The Cullens host a birthday party for Bella, much to her dismay, but when something as small and insignificant as a paper cut leads to a conflict, the Cullens pack up and leave Forks, and Bella.
Whilst in her depressive state, Bella learns that by putting herself in danger, she has visions of Edward, so she looks for thrills that prove to her that he was real. This leads her to Jacob, when she finds two motorbikes that are badly in need of repairing. Jacob fixes up the bikes (with no help from Bella, other than her company), which pulls Bella out of her depressive state, until the day that Jake gets sick. After a period of no contact, Bella investigates and (thanks to the legends that Jacob told her in ‘Twilight’) realises that Jake is now a werewolf, thanks to the threat of vampires in the area (who coincidentally are hunting Bella).
When Bella finds her next thrill in cliff diving, Alice (Edward’s sister) shows up at her house, believing she was dead. Edward finds out about Alice’s vision and heads to Italy, to the Volturi, to end his life. Can Bella and Alice stop him before it’s too late?”

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I do feel the animosity towards Bella is largely unjustified. I felt I understood her feelings much better in this second volume. I would like to note that before reading this (having seen all five films) I was entirely team Jacob, but I have been persuaded over to the dark side somewhat (not enough to warrant not wanting Taylor Lautner though!) I will definitely be continuing on with this series, it’s just a matter of when, as I am notoriously bad at marathoning series (the fact that it’s been almost two years since I read ‘Twilight’ means that I should have ‘Breaking Dawn’ finished by 2019!)

#7 A book with non-human characters – New Moon by Stephenie Meyer (7/10)

Ten down, forty to go.

My journey will also be instagrammed frequently on @charlottebibliophile

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#27 Christmas Magic, Love and Hope (#9)

When I still couldn’t get to sleep at 2am last night, I picked up Giovanna Fletcher’s novella, ‘Christmas With Billy and Me’ and devoured its 54 pages in one sitting (and then proceeded to fall asleep). My insomnia allowed me to check off book number 9 in my 2015 Reading Challenge, #27 A book you can finish in a day.

My Goodreads Review
“Set post-‘Billy and Me’, ‘Christmas With Billy and Me’ follows Sophie and Billy’s first Christmas as a couple, in a sleepy English country village. The novella begins on December 1st, when the Christmas celebrations begin with a bang in Sophie’s tearoom, Molly’s-On-The-Hill.
The morning after, Sophie notices an email from a customer who wants to propose to his girlfriend in the shop on Christmas Eve, so Sophie and her family busily get to work making decorations and prettying up the tearoom, all the while debating who the mystery couple could be.
Come Christmas Eve, with the shop looking beautiful, the mystery couple are revealed. And if you’re wondering, she says yes! This book is filled with Christmas magic, love and hope. I thoroughly enjoyed the brief return to Sophie’s world (I actually enjoyed it more than the full length novel!)”

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If you read my review of ‘Billy and Me’ last month, you will know that I was unimpressed with Gi’s first novel, but with two novels published before the release of this novella, I’m happy to say that her writing has indeed improved with experience. It’s either that, or the plot was better (I’d say both are true). There was an element of mystery within this novella (I was right about the proposal couple, although I did doubt myself initially) which just added to the cute factor of this book.

#27 A book you can finish in a day – Christmas With Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher (7/10)

Nine down, forty-one to go.

My journey will also be instagrammed frequently on @charlottebibliophile

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Meeting Collabro

Alongside books, one of my other passions is going to concerts, so as well as blogging about the books I read, I will also be blogging about every concert/entertainment event I attend during 2015 – and hopefully that number will be a lot!

Yesterday (06/02/15) I attended my first gig of 2015 – Collabro at Plymouth Pavillions. I bought my front row, VIP meet and greet ticket back in June 2014, and the date rolled around before I could believe it. I wasn’t feeling well enough to go alone, so I bought my Mum a ticket earlier this week (in about row 20) and we went down together.

The meet and greet was due to start at 6.00pm, but they were running late (and then I got directed to the wrong place) but by 6.30pm I had my VIP lanyard on, and was by the stage with around 30 others (only two of whom were younger than me, most were 40-65 years old) and Collabro walked out to meet and greet everyone.

It was incredibly relaxed. The boys had photos taken with everyone, and had a quick chat with individuals or groups. When my turn rolled around, I handed my phone and camera to their management, and shook each of their hands as they very formally introduced themselves. Whilst having my photo taken they asked me some questions such as “are you going to be singing along?” and “is that a Harry Potter phone case?” (referring to the Hufflepuff crest on my phone), which then led to a discussion about my favourite topic, Harry Potter. They were all so lovely, it was great to meet them (especially Michael and Matt, who are my favourites!)

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On my way back to my seat I was handed an A4 signed photo which was nice, as there wasn’t time for an actual signing. Once everyone had their photos taken, the boys left to prepare for the show, and I headed back into the throng of people waiting for the doors to open, to find my Mum, where I bought a programme, wristband and a small signed photo.

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Once the majority of people were seated, Mum and I headed into the arena to find our seats. That shouldn’t have been a problem, except someone was sitting in my seat. It transpired that there had been a double booking. For the first half of the performance I sat in row 2 (more centrally than my real seat) whilst the staff sorted it out (excellently I might add). At the interval, as my ticket was the real VIP seat (and the other girls was a standard ticket) they asked her to move, but as my Mum had managed to move to sit next to me, I was just about to tell her to stay, but she stormed out before I could catch her and she didn’t watch the second half, which was a shame!

Collabro performed a variety of songs from their album, as well as a few other well known tracks, including a beautiful rendition of “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri. My favourite of the night was probably “Say Something” which was absolutely outstanding, followed by the three ‘Les Mis’ songs (“Stars” in particular).

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Lucy Kay, also from ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ was their special guest. I’m not really a big fan of opera, but her voice is amazing, and she received a standing ovation for Nessun Dorma.

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I would certainly see Collabro again in the future – everyone left with huge smiles on their faces (and a tear or two in their eye). My Mum and I were blown away – we knew they could sing, but it was so much better than we thought it would be! What a way to kick off 2015’s entertainment!

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#1 Collabro (06/02/15) *****

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