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Kikki.K Stationary Haul


As part of The Notebook Project, I have been getting myself super organised when it comes to stationary in order to stay motivated. When Claire from Claireabellemakes asked if I would like to take advantage of a group order from Australian stationary brand, Kikki.K, there was just no way I could say no!

The shop sells amazingly cute products in great colour schemes. Take a look at the gorgeous selection on their online shop! I knew exactly what I wanted as soon as I saw the "Dreaming" range. I had also really hoped for a mint Time Planner but they were our of stock at the time of ordering :(

So, here's a detailed peek at the wonderful Kikki.K goodies I bought!


These "Top 3" priority sticky notes are going to come in SO handy day-to-day. I'll use them at home and work for chores, deadlines, blog posts and things like birthdays and postage dates!


This pad of notepaper is one of my favourite pieces. There are such cute illustrations and quotes on every page!


Another great buy for my desk at work, this day planner has a space for To-do's, a week-view calendar and even little spots for your "daily treats", your water intake and the day's weather! I'm in love!


Last but not least is my favourite buy: this gorgeous mint leather notebook! It's the perfect size for slipping into my bag and goes so well with the sea-side themed pen pack I also bought! Also, who doesn't love polka dots?


So there it is! I am very sure I will be ordering from Kikki.K again in the future as all of the items are great quality and there's not much else like it in the UK. (Closest probably being Paperchase). I only wish we  had a Kikki.K in the UK so we don't have to pay silly customs fees! (Be aware of that, if you end up ordering anything yourself!)

The Quick by Lauren Owen - review

"But first you must travel to Victorian Yorkshire, and there, on a remote country estate, meet a brother and sister alone in the world and bound by tragedy. In time, you will enter the rooms of London’s mysterious Aegolius Club – a society of some of the richest, most powerful men in fin-de-siecle England. And at some point – we cannot say when – these worlds will collide.

It is then, and only then, that a new world emerges, one of romance, adventure and the most delicious of horrors – and the secrets of The Quick are revealed."






Title: The Quick
Author: Lauren Owen

Publisher: Random House UK, Vintage Publishing
Source: ARC via Netgalley
Available: April 3rd 2014
Buy it: Here

Synopsis

The Aegolious Club is a secret society in the heart of London. No one knows what it's members do, but many of them are rich and powerful. When a young writer, James, seeks his fortune on the streets of the capital he becomes entwined in a grand-scale plan orchestrated by the Aegolius, and stuck in a battle of territories between rival groups. Blood will run, and lives will be lost, and only James' sister, Charlotte, may be able to save him.

Review

The Quick was an interesting read that does a lot to amend some of the bad press books of its genre may have suffered in recent years. It is a gothic thriller, with secrets, friendships and underground societies as it's main themes, all set in Victorian London.

The setting and the time period of The Quick is rich and wholly imaginable. I love books that are set in Victorian England and The Quick is no exception. I felt at any minute I would run into Fagin and Oliver, such was the very Dickens-eque quality of the scenes!

It is a long novel, and although I felt at times that the pacing was slow, I enjoyed the read. Snippets of great horror writing run through the themes of the book, and I found them perfectly slipped into narrative. Not gratuitous but quite frank, the horror aspects of The Quick are possibly one of the book's highlights.


Although I warmed to a few of the characters in the book, I felt a lot of the vast array of main characters were a little stifled. The only character I really felt like I knew properly was James, and though I really liked Charlotte at the start, she was then absent from the story for so long that she returned as a totally different person. In such a long book I was surprised the characterisation didn't run deeper. This may have added to the feeling of length, as the reader is not emotionally aligned with the characters all the way through.

The greatest problem I find with this book though, is it's marketing plan - which, in order not to ruin in the course of this review, has meant I am limited by what I can say about the themes. In fact, I might post a secondary review once the book has been released to discuss it further, as I think the marketing itself is detrimental to the expectations I had when beginning to read The Quick.

Overall

The Quick is a suspenseful read which will appeal to fans of Victorian era horror. The marketing plan surrounding the release will prepare you for a big secret, but I personally found this to be a bit of a disappointment, as the expose comes early and doesn't quite live up to it's hype.

Score 
★★★
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Parents in YA (plus FREE Mother's Day printable bookplate)

In quite a few of my YA reviews, you are likely to find me mentioning the parental unit of the novel - praising it or bemoaning the lack of one! I love seeing parents as fully formed characters in YA that has teen protagonists because, like it or not, as teenagers our parents are such HUGE presences in our lives!

As it's Mothers Day this month (Sunday 30th, in case you need the reminder!) I thought I would dedicate a post to my favourite parental figures in YA - mums and dads!

Sirius Black - Harry Potter

First one in and I'm already breaking my own rules! Not actually a "dad", but definitely a father figure, Sirius Black gave Harry so much, not to mention real happy memories of his true father, which Harry will have grown up without. A short lived character, but one whose time as a parental figure sends many ripples throughout the story to come.

Natalie Prior - Divergent

Just edging it over Lily Potter for the sacrifice of love award! Natalie was wonderful. She was level headed and proud of her children, even when they made decisions she wouldn't have expected. She showed her love for her kids in many ways, in abnegation sacrifice and in the ultimate way, too. I don;t like that so many parents give their lives for their children in YA, but I do like that Natalie's sacrifice was not a throw-away plot device. It really held gravity in the plot.

Hans Hubermann - The Book Thief

Ah Hans: Teller or bed time stories, and deliverer of the power of words to Liesel. His gentle nature and quietness was stark contrast to Liesel's foster mother, Rosa. Hans made Liesel feel safe and loved in a very un-safe and hostile environment.

Annabel - Geek Girl

Forget being a parent in YA, being a step parent in YA is a whole new kettle of fish. Annabel is a wonderful example of a step parent tryign her best to be a mother figure, without replacing the main character's real mum. She is smart, caring and always has Harriet's best interests in mind.

Mr and Mrs Pullman - Wonder

Yes, they had their flaws, especially where Via was concerned, and maybe they were a little too perfect - but you could tell these parents loved their children and wanted the best for them. I have to say it was refreshingly nice to see a parental unit in a book that was so caring, happy and involved in their children's lives, and for the children to want them to be there!

Mrs Lancaster - The Fault In Our Stars

I really felt for Hazel's mum - she tried so hard to give HAzel all the encouragement and opportunitites she could, despite her daughters illness. When she picks up Hazel from her support group and hangs back a while when she sees her talking to Gus - that's totally what my mum would do too! 

Who are your favourite parent characters in YA?! 

Freebie time! 

Gifting a book to your mum this Mother's Day? Why not print out this FREE bookplate, and show her just how much she's loved :)

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/q2ls1nux06hg52y/mrTvgXOe2n


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Burial Rites by Hannah Kent - review

“It’s not fair. People claim to know you through the things you’ve done, and not by sitting down and listening to you speak for yourself.” 

Title: Burial Rites
Author: Hannah Kent

Publisher: Picador
Source: Review copy from publisher
Buy it: Here

Synopsis

Agnes Magnusdottir is sentenced to death for the murder of her lover, Natan Ketilsson, alongside two others convicted of helping her. While she awaits the day of her execution, Agnes is placed to be held with a family on a remote Icelandic farm, in place of a prison, to see through the Winter. As lives are endangered and up-heaved by the presence of the prisoner, attachments and understandings begin to form, and the truth of the crime seeps into the silences as the executioner's axe looms.

Review

It is evident from the start that a tonne of research has gone into the writing of Burial Rites, which is based upon the true story of the last woman to be executed in Iceland. Every detail is considered and the characters felt as if they were telling their story from the shadows beside you. They were absolutely alive - until they were not. The writing was poetic and simple, and not a single word out of place or superfluous. Iceland was constructed before the reader through its wild and expansive landscape, and the mood of the novel was set and unfaltering throughout the story. It was one of gentle kindling trust and of uncertainty; of human companionship meaning so much to those with nothing; of facing death and staying strong.

The characters in this novel were wonderful. Agnes and the wife of her host family, Magret, are strong and dutiful women - both facing fate in their own separate ways. I wholly enjoyed reading their passages, as the two women skirt around each other in mutual respect before finally finding their moment in a beautifully set scene towards the end of the book. Equally, the fleeting communications between the family's daughters and Agnes are well portrayed to feel sympathy on both sides of their actions; Steina, the lesser talented elder of the two sisters is desperate for a friend, while Lauga is wary to the point of rudeness.

Of course, the ending of Burial Rites is foretold at the very beginning. Agnes is, of course, sentenced to death and as the conclusion approached I felt that I had only really just got started - that I had only really known Agnes in the last few chapters- and that I was about to be snatched away from this story too soon. Perhaps, though, this is the desired effect. Hannah Kent has created a thing of horrific beauty with Burial Rites.

Overall

Burial Rites was a beautiful read, slow but not laboured, imagining a situation that is almost unimaginable - the knowledge that your day of death is set. Those who enjoy an introspective read about humanity and fragile bonds will devour the pages of this book, although may feel a little disheartened by the rather abrupt ending. I can't wait for more from this author.

Score 
★★★

 
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The Devil in the Corner by Patricia Elliott - review

"Laudanum: tincture of opium. Used in the Victorian period as a painkiller and to cure a wide variety of ailments, including insomnia."

Title: The Devil in the Corner
Author: Patricia Elliott

Publisher: Hachette Children's Books
Source: ARC via Netgalley
Available: now
Buy it: Here

Synopsis

Maud has suffered years as a governess at the hands of malicious children and even worse employers after the death of her parents, so when she is offered the chance to live with her cousin-by-marriage - the perpetually ill Juliana - she cannot wait for the chance of a peaceful life and, perhaps, the chance to have real family. However, Maud soon finds herself in an unfriendly battle of wills, against her benefactor, against her housemaids and against those in the local village as she becomes increasingly dependent on laudanum to keep the nightmares of her past at bay and find the love she seeks.

Review

The Devil in the Corner takes on a number of classic gothic tropes and bundles them together in a nod towards well known tales such as Flowers In The Attic and The Turn Of The Screw. The familiarity of the themes; the governess, the ailing relative, the house too big for it's lonely inhabitants, all conjure an expectation of what this story is to be. In large part, it is a spooky story of loss and loneliness, in which characters are tormented by their past deeds in such a way as to manifest in ill-feeling towards each other.
In small part, the book departs entirely from this to follow a piece by piece account of courtship between Maud and a local painter, followed by the same between Maud and an older, richer suitor.

This smaller part of the book felt like a huge departure from the main story of tension and mystery, and felt very distracting from the issues I, as a reader, was keen to get back to - was Maud hallucinating the shadowy figures that haunt her due to laudanum? Was her "cousin" really ill? Was her cook's daughter, Edie, really as manipulative as she appeared? Fans of gothic thrillers may feel a little frustrated at being suddenly presented with such a lean towards romance for a sustained period of reading. I was, however, happy to find the story soon found its dark and looming atmosphere again and got us straight back to the mystery.

The story itself is not very groundbreaking - as mentioned before it is a nod towards tales that have come before it - but the journey through the pages was fun and intriguing, if not surprising. I found a lot of the clues alluding the ending's revelations were heavily signalled to the reader, perhaps for a younger audience, and this felt a bit at odds with the relationship detailing that was more mature in subject.

Overall

The Devil in the Corner had all the ingredients for a good gothic thriller but fell a little flat midway through. Clues were laid heavily throughout the plot, perhaps to help a younger reader, but I felt the relationship content and insinuations of adultery were perhaps aimed at a higher age bracket than the leading clues suggested. A fun read, but not a stand-out book in gothic YA fiction.

Score 
★★★
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Book and a Beverage


Hi everyone! Just a quick post today to let you know I have been interviewed by the wonderful Brittany at Book Addicts Guide for her Book and a Beverage feature! I'm talking about books, wine and Jennifer Lawrence, go check it out and give her a follow :)

http://www.bookaddictsguide.com/2014/03/06/book-beverage-46-emma-mab-mab/

Thanks Brittany!


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Echo Boy by Matt Haig - review

"Don't end up barred from life by your principles"

Title: Echo Boy
Author: Matt Haig

Publisher: Random House Children'sUK
Source: ARC via Netgalley
Buy it: Here

Synopsis

Audrey is in danger. The household Echo robot has just killed her parents and she has managed to escape with her life - just. But where does she go? Is there anyone left she can turn to in a world where friends are avatars and neighbours are strangers? One thing is for sure, Audrey doesn't want to be anywhere near another Echo, but that is easier said than done. She is taken in by her estranged uncle, head of Castle Industries, the primary manufacturer of Echo prototypes.

Review

Having just recently read The Humans, I seem to be developing quite a love for Matt Haig's stories of philosophical introspection... and once again with Echo Boy, Matt Haig has asked one of life's greatest questions: "What does it mean to be human?" And has presented the reader with a platform on which to form our answer.

Echo Boy is an excellent YA sci-fi thriller that presents a future world so rooted in today's society, it feels like a premonition. I really feel that the world-building itself is one of the greatest points of this novel as it links so closely to the story's messages. Are we pushing humanity to a state of indifferent robotic-ness, while technology is surpassing us in humanity? The questions are posed most fully through the character of Daniel, an Echo prototype with something resembling a soul. The way he is treated by humans and other Echoes alike prove to him that he belongs on neither side, and the reader watches as Daniel has to adapt to one side or the other just to survive.

The story is told in "mind logs" between Audrey and Daniel. Audrey is instantly likeable; a daughter of an "echophobe" who herself refuses to be brainwashed by propaganda from either side of the Echo debate. I found her to be a believable and intelligent 15-year-old narrator, and I rooted for her the whole way through. Daniel, on the other hand, took a while for me to like as much - though designed as a 16 year old boy, his mind logs often reflected someone of a younger mindset due to his discovery of new experiences and emotions, and it took a bit of getting used to.

There is an element of romance in the novel that I found sweet and neatly woven into the plot. As things are left at the end of Echo Boy, its leaves the relationship between the two characters involved open to interpretation, and I found this extremely fitting, if a little frustrating - it's not often I'm dying to know if two people get together or not!

Overall

Matt Haig has created one of his best stories yet. Each novel gets better and better and I cannot wait for the next one, as I know it will be literary joy. Echo Boy asks the right questions, presents the right evidence and draws an open conclusion that leaves the reader wondering. I will be recommending it to a lot of people -  Anyone else want a sequel?!

Score 
★★★
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