2017 Goals and January Reads

Hi all, today I have another book based post, talking about my 2017 reading goals, looking at what I read during the month of January and my book of the month.

For 2016 I set my reading goal at 52 books, which I managed to achieve. For 2017 I wanted to challenge myself a little more. Eventually I’d like to be reading at least a hundred books a year, but I wasn’t ready to commit to that just yet.

I’ve chosen to set my goal this year to 75 books, a middle ground I’ll hopefully achieve. The year started off well, as in January I managed to read ten books!

Pick of the Month

Gemina” by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (The Illuminae Files #2)

Hanna Donnelly is the station captain’s pampered daughter and Nik Malikov is the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. Together they struggle with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, blissfully unaware that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall with news of the Kerenza invasion.

Picking up about five minutes after Illuminae ends, Gemina is the electrifying sequel to the hottest YA novel of 2015.

Okay, I know it’s only February, but this may be my book of the year. Like Illuminae, I loved this book.

Like the first book in the trilogy, the story is told via chat transcripts, surveillance footage, computer logs and e-mails. In addition this time we also have the pages of Hanna’s journal, which was a lovely touch.

I confess, for the first half of the book I didn’t think it was going to be as good as Illuminae, though still a solid 4* read. It was no sooner I had thought that though, that things got cray cray! I was hooked. It went from a great book to an amazing one. I thought I knew where the plot was going, and how they’d change things up from the previous one, but they blew all my ideas right out of the water. Just as soon as you think you know how this will all play out, they twist the plot around to something totally unexpected.

I was also pleased to see the characters from Illuminae turn up, including my fave (who I won’t name for spoiler reasons). The book left me wishing I had the next book in my hand already. It’ll be a long wait until the end of the year when the third and final book is released!

January Reads

These are the books I read in January and the star rating I awarded them.  Click on the covers to be taken to their Goodreads page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’d like to follow me on Goodreads, you can find my profile here.

My Year in Books (2016)

How is it February already?! I’m pretty sure I must have slept though last month, it went by so fast!

I’m going to start off my 2017 blog posting with my 2016 Goodreads ‘Year in Review’. I love reading and plan to have a monthly book/reading post and what better way to start than to look back on the last 12 months? This is a bit of a long read, so you might want to pop the kettle on and grab the chocolate digestives and settle in!

My goal for 2016 was to read 52 books, which I achieved and I’m really happy with. Annoyingly I accidentally removed one of my books from my 2016 read list, so my challenge badge has vanished off my profile (boo!), but I did managed to snap a screencap of it before I messed up, so it’s memory will live on. 😉

The books I read ranged from shorter novellas such as A Singular and Whimsical Problem by Rachel McMillan, a short prequel for the Herringford and Watts Mysteries. This is a series about two female detectives who want to be the next Sherlock and Watson (with varying degrees of success!) to longer ones such as lluminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff. This is the first in the The Illuminae Files trilogy, a series set in space and is hard to put in to words. It was hands down the best book I read in 2016 though!

The most popular book I read in 2016 was The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins which nearly 5 million others also read, while the least popular was The Inn by Voss Foster, the second in the Evenstad Media series, which only 4 others had picked up that year. Quite the contrast in numbers!

I read a total of 14,588 pages last year, which I don’t think is too bad either!

Out of those 52 books, I marked 6 books as 5* reads. These were my top reads of 2016.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (The 5th Wave #1)

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains.
After the 2nd, only the lucky escape.
And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive.
After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother–or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

Firstly, allow me to say that if you’ve watched the movie adaptation of this? The book is far superior. I had high hopes for the film, but the plot was cut and changed and didn’t do the book justice at all, which is a real shame. As far the the book goes though, I really enjoyed reading its. I love dystopian fiction, and this one, with it’s switching POVs, slowly unfolding the mysteries and plot was great. The other two books in the trilogy weren’t as strong as the first, and I have a lot of issues with the third book, but overall the series is still well worth a read, for this book alone.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. Illustrated by Jim Kay

When a letter arrives for unhappy but ordinary Harry Potter, a decade-old secret is revealed to him that apparently he’s the last to know. His parents were wizards, killed by a Dark Lord’s curse when Harry was just a baby, and which he somehow survived. Leaving his unsympathetic aunt and uncle for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry stumbles upon a sinister mystery when he finds a three-headed dog guarding a room on the third floor. Then he hears of a missing stone with astonishing powers, which could be valuable, dangerous – or both. An incredible adventure is about to begin!

I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, so all the books in the series tend to get a fairly high rating from me. This book however is gorgeous! It’s a larger, coffee table style of book which can make it a little clunky to read, but it’s well worth any arm ache due to the stunning illustrations inside. It is truly a work of art. One book in the series is being released each year (normally on my birthday, bonus!), and they really are a must have for any Harry Potter fan.

Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide by J.K. Rowling (Pottermore Presents #3)

Pottermore Presents is a collection of J.K. Rowling’s writing: short reads originally featured on pottermore.com. These eBooks, with writing curated by Pottermore, will take you beyond the Harry Potter stories as J.K. Rowling reveals her inspiration, intricate details of characters’ lives and surprises from the wizarding world.

Hogwarts An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide takes you on a journey to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You’ll venture into the Hogwarts grounds, become better acquainted with its more permanent residents, learn more about lessons and discover secrets of the castle… all at the turn of a page.

As I mentioned above, I’m a huge fan of the boy wizard, so of course I was going to be devouring these as soon as they became available! All three books in the series (so far) are great at giving you more backstory and glimpses in to the world of Harry Potter but I especially liked this one, focusing on the location we know best of all, Hogwarts. If you want to know more about those hallowed halls, it’s ghosts and objects, this is the book to read!

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (The Illuminae Files #1)

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.

Okay, first off, this book is gorgeous to look at! Search for the book and take a look on google images. It’s just wonderful. Seriously, just look at it. This how page is made from keyboard smushed text in different colours.

Rather than being written from one or several points of view, it’s told through a collection of IM chats, surveillance footage, computer logs, ship diagrams and e-mails. It’s wonderfully done, with with lots of artistic and inventive ways to get the story across.

The book took me a little while to get in to at first, because in addition to focusing on our two main characters, there are snippets of what often looks like irrelevant documents not related to the main plot. As the story progresses however all these threads are pulled together and it’s just fantastic. All kinds of crazy stuff happens, and the characters you hated at the beginning of the book are the ones you end up rooting for at the end (well I did, anyway!). If there is one book you should read in 2017, it’s this.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen #1)

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.

As I mentioned before, I love a good dystopian novel. This book is set in a high fantasy world, which I often find can be hard to get in to due to the large volumes of world building that goes on. This book however sucked me in from the start and held my attention throughout. The main characters caught my attention right away, I enjoyed the typical YA romantic element and couldn’t wait to get stuck in to the sequel. The third in the series is out in a few days, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

The Selection by Kiera Cass (The Selection #1)

Thirty-five beautiful girls. Thirty-five beautiful rivals…

It’s the chance of a lifetime and 17-year-old America Singer should feel lucky. She has been chosen for The Selection, a reality TV lottery in which the special few compete for gorgeous Prince Maxon’s love.

Swept up in a world of elaborate gowns, glittering jewels and decadent feasts, America is living a new and glamorous life. And the prince takes a special interest in her, much to the outrage of the others.

Rivalry within The Selection is fierce and not all of the girls are prepared to play by the rules. But what they don’t know is that America has a secret – one which could throw the whole competition… and change her life forever.

This is very much a YA novel, set in a dystopian world that while mentioned is never delved into too deeply, with the requisite YA romantic plot, combining to give you a quick, light and fluffy read.

This book isn’t perfect. The first three novels in the series could have easily been combined. As the books stand they tend to cut off mid-way through the ongoing plot rather than reaching a natural ending point in an ongoing series. The books also don’t delve to deeply in to the social issues and other problems that have created this broken country, which I would have liked. However, despite those issues, this book is a fun, cute read, and for it’s target audience, quite charming.

If you manged to read to the end of this post and would like to follow me on Goodreads, you can find my profile here.

Shimelle Guest Artist: Golden Games

Hi everybody, today I’m featured on Shimelle’s blog as one of her guest artists!

Our layouts today had a sports theme, with a focus on using flair. I had a great time creating my light and airy layout, using some of Shimelle’s first collection and various Felicity Jane kits.

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Picking the Olympics as a subject was an easy choice, I love watching them whenever they’re on, rooting for TeamGB! I think this is actually the first time I’m scrapped a photo from London 2012, which is hilarious considering making a album from that summer was what got me in to scrapbooking in the first place! Four years from idea to page isn’t that bad… right? 😉 I decided on using two photos of Andy Murray with his London and Rio medals, because out of all the medals we won, these were two of the ones I was most excited about.

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I really did have fun creating this layout, I got to use some pieces I’d been hording (those gold puffy letter stickers), and some of my favourite embellishments that I like to include on every layout (acrylic).

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Be sure to check out Shimelle’s blog for my write up over there and full layout image, as well as layouts designed by her contributing designers!

If you’d like to watch my process, you can check out my video below.

iNSD 2016 Layout Share

Cast your mind waaaay back to 7th May 2016. That was the date of International Scrapbooking Day. I took the Friday and Monday surrounding it off work, and made it a long, scrappy weekend.

I had hoped to get a lot of layouts created, but once the frenzy of activities had settled, I had created a grand total of… four.

It’s not the number I had hoped for, but between all the YouTube hops I was taking part in, Inkie Quill’s Scrapstream and google hangouts I was a busy social butterfly, who spent most of her time chatting rather than scrapping. Whoops!

The first layout I created was for my Convention Chronicles album, and features Summer Glau. The photo was taken at a signing event at HMV way back in 2005 the day after the premiere. I actually bunked off work to go to this, the first (and last) time I’ve ever done that!

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The second layout is my favourite and involved a lot of fussy cutting! I used the gorgeous Dear Lizzy Documentary collection for this layout, as well as some lovely metal butterflies I’d originally bought for a bag project.

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The third and forth layouts go together, and are all to do with the aftermath of the weekend. These form part of my NSD Project Life spread.

The first features the very messy bed I was left with after a crafting (chatting) session.

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And this one? Features a less than flattering photo of me after I’d stayed up all night – 26 hours in fact. I wanted a photo to really capture how tired I felt, and I think this does it!

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If you’d like to watch me share and talk about these layouts, you can watch the video below.

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