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Glasses Direct review



A less explored tangent of books and reading is reading health - I'm talking specifically about eye health. There are so many people I know who wear glasses permanently - or even specifically to read - and it's a huge part of being able to enjoy a book. I mean, you don't want to be straining to see the words and end up with a headache 10 pages in?!

I am a wearer of both glasses and contact lenses, and I find glasses much more comfortable to read in. I have more than one pair because I tend to leave them scattered around (at the office, on the bedside table, by the TV...) but, as you can imagine, that doesn't come cheap. With that in mind, when I recently got a new prescription I decided to try out online glasses store, Glasses Direct.

#OTSPSecretSister

Twitter followers may have noticed me using the #OTSPSecretSister hashtag a lot recently - and that is because I recently signed up to be a Secret Sister!  The activity is a mail-based cheer group among the book loving community, organised by three wonderful bloggers; Brittany (@bookaddictguide), Amy (@TrippingBooks) and Alyssa (@WithTheBanned).

For six months, sisters send gifts, letters, books, and happy mail to their partner - all the while keeping their identity a closely guarded secret - and use the hashtag prolifically to get to know each other (and maybe figure out who the person behind their own happy mail is!) It's such a fun, supportive, positive group and it feels really nice to be part of something like that.

This is the first time that OTSPSecretSister has been opened up to UK and Europe residents, and I am so happy to be part of it. I have gotten to know and discover some wonderful new people already, and I have really enjoyed making my own sister's days a little brighter with mail-able treats. Unfortunately I can't share any of that with you, as I might give myself away! ;)

I can, however, share a little of what I have received from my own (amazing) secret sister. If she is reading this - THANK YOU, you are so kind and generous :)

The Harry Potter Studio Tour - Round II



I recently had a weekend in London with my mum, in which we took a trip to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in Watford. It was my mums first visit, and my second; she read all of the books along with my brother and me when they were released (after we finished with them, of course! Ha!) and I thought the studio tour would be a great thing to do together. Plus I was desperate to see the new Hogwarts Express and Death Eater mansion, which weren't there the last time I went!

A recent foray into celeb autobiographies



I’ve recently read a lot of non-fiction, and I’ve been loving the small break away from what could be called my “usual” selection of darkly intense characters and situations! The shift happened after an afternoon in the pub with Sarah (@WBites) who started telling me about all the hilarious autobiographies she had been reading on her holiday. I left the pub feeling like I was missing out on something awesome by not really reading non-fiction. I wanted to dip my toe in!

However, there was a bit of a snag: I don't really take much interest in "celebrity lives", all the latest critically accliamed shows are still waiting for me on Netflix/Tivo, and I watch Youtube for about 10 minutes a month - usually to check out how good a band is live. For a woman in my 20's, I'm pretty old! What was I going to read? WHO was I going to read?! I approached autobiographies with trepidation: if I bought one, would I know what the author was on about half the time? How meta would their book be? Would it matter I hadn’t had much experience of their other work? Could I read and enjoy their books if I just thought they were pretty cool on Twitter?!

Turns out, I flippin’ well can.

A walk around Bristol: Montpelier, Stokes Croft and Kingsdown

 

I've been taking some time out recently to explore the city, and be a tourist in my own town. Instagram meet-ups arranged by @igersbristol have been great in helping me see places I never knew about!  I thought I would share with you some of my photos from my latest exploration around Stokes Croft, Montpelier and Kingsdown.

Outlaw Craft Show


This May bank holiday weekend saw the Outlaw Craft Show take place at the Passenger Shed in Bristol. The event was the first time that the show had taken place outside of Cornwall and brought with it a host of wonderful makers from across the South West. There were plenty of opportunities to get involved with makers in residence, workshops and "make and take" sessions too! Here is my photo diary from the day :)

National Stationery Week 2015 - My Style



To celebrate National Stationery Week in the UK, I thought I would share my stationery style with you! I have stationery "personalities" that I switch between, and each one inspires a certain part of me. I think I'll always be a kawaii girl at heart, though!

Project Life Series: Supplies Part 1 - stores



Project Life-ers in the UK are currently quite poorly catered for when it comes to finding journalling cards. I've tried every craft/paper/art shop in my city and my only offline buying options are the standard "core kits" from the Project Life range in Hobbycraft. Luckily, there are wonderful online shops that import all of the pretty special editions, collaborations and brands that do Project Life compatible sizes, for great prices too! So next time you see a new release that's a "Micheals Exclusive" and you don't have any American friends... don't fret! Here are some of my favourite supply spots. Not only do they carry the core ranges, but most of them also import loveliness from the US and have a host of tempting ephemera to add in to the shopping cart!:

Mini Reviews: Beloved, Queen's Gambit, Ostrich

I seem to be reading in high volume spurts lately, which means I am finishing a lot of titles all at once! I thought I would do a mini review post to cover them all for you :)

Beloved by Alison Rattle

In a nutshell:  Alice is unloved by her cruel mother, thought to be rebellious and mad. When her father - her only solace - is gone, Alice looks for love wherever she can get it. When she meets Henry Prince in a chance encounter she thinks the Abode of Love is the answer to her prayers, not another prison.
Condensed thoughts: This definitely felt like a book of two halves with not much narrative crossover linking the two parts - Alice is home and desperate, and then she isn't. I liked the story, and the fact that is was based on real history, but I can't say I was blown away. I was expecting a bit more darkness to the writing than there was. It just lacked atmosphere for me.

Rating: ★★


Queen's Gambit by Elizabeth Freemantle

In a nutshell: Katherine never wanted to be Henry VIII's sixth wife, but now that she is, she must navigate the court, her rivals and her husbands bad temper, or she will pay with her life.
Condensed thoughts: If you are a fan of historical fiction or Tudors I truly cannot recommend this book enough. I instantly loved Freemantle's Katherine and the writing was exciting, engaging and emotionally charged. Queens Gambit brought wonderful light to a less-explored Queen's story. Not to be missed!

Rating: ★★


Ostrich by Matt greene

In a nutshell: After brain surgery, Alex and his friend Chloe try to unravel the mysteries that surround his parents' strange behaviour.
Condensed thoughts: I struggled with this book. I didn't really click with Alex's narration and found the ending good but confusing (I had to google it to check I had understood right!) It was definitely a quirky read, and although not for me, I do think it's worth a look for people wanting a "conciousness" type of narration and a good final revelation.

Rating: ★★


Project Life Series: Inspiration and community


TIME TO BE INSPIRED! If you have never heard of Project Life, I will forgive you. It's really just blossoming at the moment as the product and style has finally made its way over from the US to the rest of the world! I found out about Project Life last year via Instagram while trying to hunt down cute stationery. If you search the #ProjectLife tag you will find hundreds of people sharing their memories and creative passion for scrap booking. Look a little further, and you will find brands are now creating products specifically for pocket scrap-booking, with many of them offering subscription services to provide you with monthly themes for your pages.


A selection of my Digital Project Life pages which I use for Weekly Reflections!

I'll look a little further into the supplies available for pocket scrap-booking later in the series but for the purpose of this post I think the following is important:

The set-up price for Project Life isn't cheap. In the UK you'll be laying out about £60 for an album, a set of page protectors and a starter pack of journalling cards from the range - that's without any kind of embellishment, which I find is the best way to start. So, I think it's more than fair to want a bit of insight into what you can do before you take the plunge!

As the first post in this series, I wanted to share with you the people and sites that persuaded me to give Project Life a go - and they are also the people whose style of scrapping I still aspire to achieve myself! (I have a feeling I may need a few more cupboards full of craft materials to get there though!)

Below is a small list of my favourite Project Life bloggers and Instagrammers - I really recommend taking a peek at what they do! I've also listed a couple of great Project Life communities and Pinterest Boards to browse.

BLOGS

INSTAGRAMMERS

Laurarahel
HelloTodayCreate
Fashionadictt
MyDocumentedLife

COMMUNITIES

Studio Calico
Gossamer Blue

PINTEREST

Jessy Christopher
 The Geeky Burrow

Are you feeling inspired?! Next time I'll be taking a look at Project Life Supplies.



Project Life Series: Introduction


HELLO! Welcome to my brand new series; The Project Life Series.

If you follow me on Instagram (@mabismab, btw!) you will know that last year I started scrap-booking using the Becky Higgins Project Life system: a pocket-based layout system into which you can insert journalling cards, photos, postcards and other memories in a simple, fuss-free page.



I have never been a scrap-booker before. I tried quite a few times to get into scrapping with things like Smash Books and other paper-based systems and it just didn't stick. I'm not one for arty layers and textures and thickly glued sheets. My style is more clean lines, white space and grid-friendly. That's why when I picked up Project Life, I didn't look back. A year later, I am on my second album and have found so much inspiration and community around Project Life, I don't think I'll ever leave it!

As Project Life is still relatively new in the UK (we would certainly struggle to obtain any of the new product releases over here if it wasn't for some key importers - more on them later in the series!) I thought I would start a small series about Project Life, and how I use it, to inspire others to take it up who may think scrap-booking isn't for them.

As discussed before, I am personally making conscious efforts to do things "offline" and I really think preserving memories and using the things we create digitally, physically is very important!

Over the next few months, I will release posts on the following things. If there is anything else you would like to know about just let me know, and I hope you enjoy the series!

Project Life Series: Inspiration and community
Project Life Series: Photo editing
Project Life Series: Photo printing
Project Life Series: Supplies
Project Life Series: Tools
Project Life Series: My Project Life


0

Mind Games by Teri Terry - review


Title: Mind Games
Author: Teri Terry
Publisher: Hachette
Source: ARC from Netgalley
Available: 5 March 2015
Buy it:  Here


Synopsis

Luna is a Refuser - she doesn't have a Pareco Virtual Reality implant, and she doesn't access virtual worlds via plug-in points either. Ever since the death of her mother, Luna has turned her back on technology and instead cared more for real things, especially her nanna who is often "away with the fairies". So why does she receive an appointment for a prestigious Pareco Test? And how will she keep the real reason she's a Refuser to herself, when everyone will expect her to plug in?

Review

I'll get something out of the way very quickly; this book has more than an echo of Divergent about it - BUT - honestly, you will forgive it for that. While the plot is very reminicent, the characters, their motivations and the world Teri creates are very, very different. Mind Games stands on its own two feet, and can hold its head high.

I enjoyed Mind Games immensely. I instantly liked Luna, and was eager to follow her through the path laid out in front of her - real or otherwise! The virtual reality worlds came across really well and the set-up of the sci-fi parts of the plot were easy to follow and imagine.

What I liked most about Mind Games was the sort-of-split half way, which allowed the reader to go back and see things - characters, places and choices - again through a different, more naive point of view. I found myself calling out "NO!" to the page when Luna made a choice in the second half that only the reader knew was a bad one! ha!

Unfortunately I found the ending to be a little messy after such a taught storyline leading up to it. It all passed by very quickly in a whirlwind of real and unreal realities. I might go back and re-read the end a bit slower, as perhaps my eagerness to know how it ended impacted the finale.
 
Overall

Mind Games is hugely fun and fast paced. I think it got a bit lost in its own ending, which had me leaving the book a little confused, but overall I would highly recommend this book to fans of tech-fuelled dystopia.

Score
 

★★

0

The Death House by Sarah Pinborough - review

Toby's life was perfectly normal... until it was unravelled by something as simple as a blood test."  

Title: The Death House
Author: Sarah Pinborough
Publisher: Orion
Source: ARC from Netgalley
Available: 26 February 2015
Buy it:  Here


Synopsis

Toby tested positive for the "Defective" gene, and now lives in The Death House with other Defective kids, waiting out their days together under the scrutiny of Matron and her emotionally devoid nurses who are looking for any change or sickness. Sick kids disappear in the night and never return. Determined not to be one of them, Toby claims the nights for himself. That is until the arrival of Clara...

Review

It has been a long time since I stayed up into the small hours to finish a book. The Death House became one of those few novels that had me commited so intently into its story, I couldn't stop until I knew how it ended. Sleep be damned!

Toby was a brilliant protagonist. He was surly and lustful and rebellious and changeable. He reminded me a lot of Will from His Dark Materials, actually. He was true and honest, with all the nuances of teenage boy about him - good and bad. I'm glad that of all the protagonists we could have had, it was Toby. Torn between responsibility to the younger boys, his own fear of death, his acceptance of a slow decent to the end and his desire to be top dog of his dorm, Toby was such an intricate person, with some brilliant inner struggles. Clare is his complete foil, and they are perfect together.

The story is a wash of subtleties behind its main theme of impending doom. Romantic love, brotherly bonds, maternal love and denial of truth/feelings all make profound dents into the emotional taught-ness of the story, and we are reminded throughout the book that this is a Sarah Pinborough novel by the inclusion of a mermaid theme. It sits so prefectly against the characters, you wonder why more authors don't include mythological allusions.
 
Overall

The Death House is an emotional story that weaves mystery, mythology and friendship seamlessly into its short length. I found The Death House to be a brilliant page-turner and just couldn't put it down. Don't miss this wonderful YA!

Score
 

★★★★

0

We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach - review

“The best books, they don't talk about things you never thought about before. They talk about things you'd always thought about, but that you didn't think anyone else had thought about. You read them, and suddenly you're a little bit less alone in the world. "  

Title: We All Looked Up
Author: Tommy Wallach
Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK Children's
Source: ARC from Netgalley
Available: 26 March 2015
Buy it:  Here


Synopsis

Ardor is a a comet with a 2/3 probability of crashing into earth. Andy, Anita, Eliza and Peter are bound together in karass, each with their own goals to achieve before the end of the world; Anita wants to break free from her parents and sing, Peter wants a life with meaning, Eliza wants to shake her reputation and Andy just doesn't want to die a virgin. However, some problems are bigger and more immediate than a comet on a collision course.

Review

Oh wow - this book has been an absolute highlight of my year so far. The ensemble of characters, the apocalyptic motivator, the emotion... everything comes together so wonderfully in We All Looked Up, and does so in a way that is both philosophical and exciting.

There wasn't one weak POV, although I feel like I enjoyed Andy's the most - purely because I found his relationship with his "best friend" Bobo so intriguing. It was toxic and bound by blood - quite literally - and male friendship strain just felt so new and refreshing in YA.

Something I found very interesting in We All Looked Up is that no-one's initial reaction to the news of Ardor was immense panic. I liked this take on things, it removed melodrama from the event itself and made way for very effective emotion surrounding relationships, family and existential crisis.

The whole book was a joy from start to finish. I really cannot urge you to read this book enough!

Overall

We All Looked Up is like The Breakfast Club at the end of the world - and it has the content to be just as iconic. Diverse, emotionally varied characters battle a spectrum of teenage conflicts in fast-forward, as Ardor brings their lives into full focus. Very highly recommended!

Score
 

★★★★

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I Am The Cheese and Why I write about books

I thought I would put together a little post to share with you why I write about books for World Book Day. I hope you enjoy it!:



I Am The Cheese and Why I write about books

I suppose that I have a lot to thank author Robert Cormier for. There is a defined, singular moment in my life where I can say I literally felt my attitude towards books take a shift from "I like reading" to "my life would not be the same without books". That moment came while reading the final chapters of I Am The Cheese.

Never before had a book taken me by surprise in such a way. I couldn't believe it; I had just been lied to by these pages for almost a week! And I was the fool! I didn't know books could do this. I was 11 years old, starting to realise I kind of really liked my English class, and had been given the book by the teacher to encourage me outside of curricular reading. I guess I also have a lot to thank that teacher for.

I Am The Cheese started me on my quest to be lied to. I loved having the ground pulled from beneath my feet (in pages!) and I devoured the thriller section of my school library very quickly. Four years later, my GCSE teacher placed Rebecca by Daphne De Maurier in my hands and that was it. Gothic literature was opened up to me and I have never looked back. So, thank you to that teacher, too ;)

Books took a huge role in my college education as I studied English Language and English Literature (more on that here!) and when I left college I began work as a production assistant. There was suddenly a huge void in my existence: I wasn't writing about books anymore! I guess when it comes down to it, that is why Mab is Mab exists; I didn't like my life as much when I wasn't talking about books. I needed it. I was lost without the need to analyze, decode, learn from and form opinions around writing.

Although I write about books for myself, I do hope that my need to do so means something to someone, somewhere. As egotistical as that may be... If just one person picks up a book as a result of this blog, it would make me warm and glow-y inside for quite a while. I hope they do :)




Disclaimer: I was contacted by My Voucher Codes to share my story as part of a World Book Day campaign. All text is my own and I will be entering this post as a competition entry to be featured on their site.

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How To Fly With Broken Wings by Jane Elson - review

If Finn Maison shouts jump you jump or you are dead."  

Title: How To Fly With Broken Wings
Author: Jane Elson
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Source: ARC from Netgalley
Available: 03 March 2015
Buy it:  Here


Synopsis

Willem is a boy with Aspergers Syndrome, and he is trying to make two friends his own age for his homework. A tough task for anyone, Willem also faces the challenge of navigating gang cultures, riots, the complexities of attraction and the fact that he can't work out whether Finn Maison is a friend or foe.

Review

How To Fly With Broken Wings is a sweet story that takes place in very recent times of the London riots. There is a huge cast of characters, including a dog, an aeroplane and people both alive and dead (yes, really). We read the story from the view points of Willem and his new friend Sasha as they find ways to unite the people they care about and heal their estate, and I think these view points help get a good view of everything that's going on. However, I personally found Sasha's voice annoying at times. There were so many CAPITALS I felt like I was reading Facebook updates from people I had long ago unfollowed for that very reason!

How To Fly... presents some very complex issues throughout it's short story - gang culture, autism, domestic abuse and death to name but a few - but I never felt the book ever really went deep enough to have any kind of effect. Maybe an affecting read wasn't the aim, but I would question why there are so many YA-relevant talking points if it wasn't.

That said, I loved the tragic romance of "the plane" - if there was one message I did take away from this book, it is to love everyone you care about as much as you can, for the time you have them. You never know how short that time will be.

Overall

A very quick read that is enjoyable but doesn't fall into its themes enough to be affecting. I think that for younger readers of the YA spectrum, How To Fly... would be a perfect gateway into other books that explore topics along the same lines - perhaps Wonder or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night.

Score
 

★★

0

The Ship by Antonia Honeywell - review

I was born at the end of the world"  

Title: The Ship
Author: Antonia Honeywell
Publisher: Orion
Source: ARC from Netgalley
Available: 19 February 2015
Buy it:  Here


Synopsis

Lalla was born "at the end of the world" - London is destroyed by the environmental choices of people in a time long since gone; food is scarce, living space is compromised and The Dove is a new government initiative set in place by Lalla's father - if you don't have an ID card, you officially do not exist, and are not provided for. As mass "population control" comes into effect, and London sees an increase in danger and violence, Lalla's father holds the key to their escape and guaranteed happiness: The Ship. But at what price?

Review

The synopsis of this book grabbed my attention for its darkly political themes that are an exploration of the choices we are making right now. I thought the London of The Ship was brilliantly presented as a harsh and military environment, and many of the chosen themes Honeywell focuses on (belonging, community, responsibility and happiness) are very well reflected throughout the choice of setting.

I also LOVED that after a shocking life event, Lalla is given time to grieve throughout the writing. The after effects of what happened are not brushed under the carpet in favour of a new plot point, but instead cause ripples throughout all that is to come. This was one of the most pleasing things for me about The Ship. It felt honest.

However, I had a small problem. After devouring the first third of the book, we follow Lalla, 100% behind her and her brave choices, onto the ship. It is here that I think The Ship falls a little flat. While the ship itself has it's own eerie presence and disguised motives, I couldn't help but feel the REAL story of The Ship was happening on land. Like Lalla, I desperately wanted to return. I felt the book had only really started to properly begin at its end point - so I'm hoping there is a sequel :)

Overall

I mentioned "after effects" in my review and I really think it could have been an alternative title! The Ship focuses a lot on the after effects of choices we make as individuals, as communities and as humans. It offers good food for thought, and an engrossing world to view our own choices against. I really hope a sequel is on the cards.

Score
 

★★

3

We Are Memory Keepers 3 x 4 Card Punch Review

I recently purchased the We Are Memory Keepers 3x4" Card Punch to use for my Project Life scrap-booking. I've been looking at it for ages online, but the hefty price tag (£30 for a punch?!) always seemed a bit unjustifiable. So, when I spied a good deal on Amazon I took the plunge. I thought I would share a little review for anyone else umm-ing and ahh-ing over it.


I purchased the square corner punch, but you can also buy one with rounded corners. I already have a rounded corner punch so I thought square would give me more options.

Initial Impressions

This thing is a lot larger and heavier than I expected. It's a two-handed punch and made quite solidly from metal, magnets and plastic, so it isn't the most travel-bag friendly if you like to punch-on-the-go. The top part comes off completely to allow you to position your photos/paper against a clear 3x4 window which I thought was a nice feature. The punch also locks down into a "closed" position for easier storage (about a 2cm difference in height)

Using The Punch

When placed on the punch, the paper/photo is held in place by magnets and you can tug the paper around through the magnetic field to get the right cut. I don't know if it is just the punch I got, but I found it to be very stiff at first, and I really had to put my weight behind it when punching down. I think this might get easier with time as the mechanism loosens up a bit, though.

I also found that every so often, the punch would get jammed into its closed position. I changed surfaces (from the carpeted floor to a solid table) and this helped stop the jamming, but made it a bit harder to push! I think it needs a dead vertical pressure, and a solid surface makes this easier.

The resulting 3x4 card itself is cleanly cut, and easy to remove through the clear window. I wondered why this was a hinged viewer at first, until I realised removing the magnetic top to grab the card every time sent little residue "punch holes" all over the place! Yep, as well as the card, you also get mini holes around the punched area (see photo below) I guess this is to make sure your photo stays put, but seems a bit overkill when accompanied with some very strong magnets! It also wastes a lot of paper :(


Overall?

This punch absolutely saves time when cutting down photos and scrap book paper. It's well-made and I think it would last a very long time, as long as the blades remain sharp.

However, I don't like the mini punch holes. They basically mean that instead of 12 cards from a single sheet of scrapbook paper, you can get about 4/5 which is a HUGE reduction and paper isn't cheap.

I also think that the price is really off-putting. I managed to get my punch from WRMK at a sale price of £15 and I am happy with that price for what I get, but I think £30 is a bit steep, especially if the jamming issues never stop.

Do you have the WRMK card punch? What do you think of it? Are you considering buying one?


7

Wolf Winter by Cecilia Ekbäck - review

It's the kind of winter that will remind us we are mortal,’ he said. ‘Mortal and alone."  

Title: Wolf Winter
Author: Cecilia Ekbäck
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Source: ARC from Netgalley
Available: 12 February 2015
Buy it:  Here

Synopsis

Maija, Paavo and their two daughters, Frederika and Dorotea, leave their lives in Finland for a small homestead on Blackåsen Mountain in the Swedish Lapland. When Frederika finds a body on sacred ground of the Lapps, all the members of the small and disparate community come under suspicion, uprooting secrets and discomforts far too close to home.

Review

Wolf Winter is a slow starter that unfolds many surprises as it gets going. As with the few Scandinavian novels I have read previously, I once again found myself completely enraptured by the violent simplicity of a Scandinavian winter. Cold, brutal, unforgiving - the setting of Wolf Winter lays a volatile backdrop for a foreboding and mysterious event: a body in the woods, killed by one of the community's own.

I loved the writing which, although slow-paced at times (which may be a translation issue?), had moments of poetry, irreverent observations and profound sentiments. It matched perfectly to the life of the story's characters whose simple but grueling day-to-day is lit up in small moments of family and love.

The main storyline itself was brilliant as the murder mystery unfolds through the eyes of both Frederika and her mother, Maija, down two very different routes. One of them embracing the "sorcery" of the old religion and trusting in some thing primal, the other looking at the cold facts and following leads through to accusations, whatever the expense. I was guessing the outcome right up until the last page.

Overall

A wonderful mystery set in a winter with as much character as any of the humans in the story! I highly recommend this book - especially if you have read and loved Burial Rites, which I found to have the same sort of pacing and writing style.

Score
 

★★

1

Alice In Wonderland Stamps

I love it when two of my favourite things - books and letters - mix. These stamps celebrating 150 years of Alice In Wonderland are beautiful, and I can't wait to write and send some happymail adorned by them! The stamps have also been reproduced as postcards too - perfect for little mail gifts.

I think this is my favourite of the set!


I really like the artwork. It's a bit creepy; photo-realism mixed with warped perspective and proportions across all ten designs. They get a big thumbs up from me!


Are you a fan of limited edition stamps? What do you think of the new designs?

2

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard - review

In the fairy tales, the poor girl smiles when she becomes a princess. Right now, I don't know if I'll ever smile again."  

Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Publisher: Orion
Source: ARC from Netgalley
Available: 12 February 2015
Buy it: Here Here

Synopsis

Mare Barrow, a Red from the poverty stricken Stilts, finds herself in the world of Silvers; once-mythical gods that now live on earth in silk and splendor while Reds struggle to serve them and fight their wars. But the balance of power is shifting, and Mare is just what the rebellion has been waiting for.

Review

I’m torn about Red Queen.

On the one hand, it was an exciting and well paced dystopian YA, with interesting characters and an intriguing world. On the other, I just really didn’t feel it. It’s like I had read Red Queen already, in about 4 or 5 other books, each having characters in them I cared more about than the central characters here; Mare, Cal and Maven.

I know that sounds quite harsh, and nothing is going to be completely original anymore, but I really think Red Queen flags up a bit of a saturation point in a certain kind of dystopian YA. Everything felt so familiar. Even the twists felt like they were meant to be there.

That said, I truly loved the world created for Red Queen. I loved the mythical creatures of the ruling class and their powers, and the castles of glass and walls of diamond. It was all very lush and extravagant – the perfect foil to The Stilts which, although given only a brief introduction, felt every bit as horrible as it should.

I also enjoyed the characters of the revolution. I wish they could have played a bigger part as they felt fresher – I wanted more Farley, more Tristan and Kilorn. Their unpredictable actions gave the only sense of the unknown in the book.

Overall

I can’t say I didn’t like Red Queen, because I did. It was an easy and enjoyable read that I finished quickly and felt satisfied at the end of. I just wish there was a bit more of a spark for me.  I recommend it to fans of the genre looking for an underdog to root for in a great fictional world.

Score
 

★★

2

#Stationerylovers Giveaway!

Today I have a great giveaway for you to tie up a wonderful #StationeryLoversXmas Swap!

Back in November, Claire from Claireabellemakes and I launched an international swap for stationery lovers. We had loads of people swapping lovely stationery packages throughout December and the Swap was a great success! To say thank you, Claire and I are hosting a giveaway of goodies, and we have some beautiful things from our wonderful swap sponsors; Caren Barry, Yellowstone Art Boutique and Sally Makes Art.

To enter, complete the Rafflecopter form below!

Here's what you could win:



a Rafflecopter giveaway

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The Slump and DNF round-up

Hi everyone. Today I want to talk about "the slump". I've covered it before, and I'm pretty sure it happens to everyone who loves books at some point: you just can't find a book that you like, and so your approach towards reading becomes defeatist, which gives books a harder chance to impress you - and on and on!


I've been experiencing a HUGE slump recently. Since before Christmas I haven't completed a book. I don't know what caused it. I hadn't just finished something amazing that nothing could live up to. I hadn't just read something emotional that left me with a book hangover. I had (and still have) plenty of wonderful titles on my TBR. I just haven't been motivated to read them, and the choices I was making just weren't working out. It sucks!

Happily, I have some amazing people on Twitter who respond brilliantly to any call for slump help! Having other book lovers send out their favourite book titles like prescriptions seemed to reignite my excitement about reading again. Luckily I have just read a book that seems to have broken the reading down-turn but there are a whole slew of books I didn't complete in my wake. I don't review DNFs as I don't think it's fair, but as there hasn't been a review on this blog for at least a month, I feel I should at least list the ones I would have reviewed ;)

So, here are my DNFs from Dec-Jan. I will probably revisit a few later in the year as I think I was the problem, not the book!

Broken Monsters - Lauren Beukes
Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel
Attachments - Rainbow Rowell
Shiver The Whole Night Through - Darragh McManus
City Of Bones - Cassandra Clare
Serena  -Ron Rash

Were any of my DNFs definite "return later"s? I think I'll definitely give Serena a second chance, but I might be "one of those" people and watch the BBC adaptation of Wolf Hall! ha!

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