Blood For Blood – Ryan Graudin

First and foremost guys, how is this the only book I’ve managed to read in February? I was all set to have a great reading year, I read four books in January and it’s already tapered out in the second month? The fact that I’ve only read one book does not reflect poorly on the quality of this book, merely that I’ve had little to no time to actually read (or at least, whenever I’ve been picking my book up before bed, I’ve been nodding off because I’m shattered).

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Blood for Blood is the sequel to Wolf by Wolf, which I don’t think I ever reviewed for this blog. The duology follows Yael, as she’s challenged to murder Hitler after he won the Second World War. I love historical fiction, particularly historical fiction that surrounds World War II, so a Young Adult series set in the aftermath of Hitler winning the war was something I was going to love.

Obviously, I’m not going to go into details, because I don’t want to spoil the books for anyone who hasn’t read them. However, what I will say is that I’ve fallen in love with Graudin’s writing style, so much so that halfway through this book, I purchased The Walled City, also by this author. Graudin writes characters that are relatable, believable and likeable. I wanted to be Yael’s friend within a couple of chapters into Wolf by Wolf, and I was eager to see how her story progressed throughout Blood for Blood.

Not only does Graudin write great characters, but the storyline is completely and utterly believable. Obviously, Hitler didn’t win the war, so no one knows what would have happened but everything that Graudin includes in the books could easily have happened. Except from maybe the whole skinshifter element, but that didn’t deter from the story. In fact, it adds to the story, because Hitler did indeed commission experiments to be carried out on those in concentration camps, so it fits easily into the story. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy a little bit of science fiction in their novels?

The only real problem that I had with the book was the skinshifting element, whilst yes their were experiments carried out, skin shifting is a little bit far fetched. I also think that the premise of the novels could have been carried out easily without the inclusion of skin shifting. However, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy both of the books overall. In fact, their one of my favourite duologies that I’ve read in a while.

Four out of Five star.

 

My Top 10 Favourite Authors

Hello!

I thought I would do a little bit of a different book-related post today and tell you guys my top 10 favourite authors, who generally tend to be ‘auto-buys’ whenever I see a new release! I will admit, after writing the list down, I would never have thought that my favourite author list would be so varied – there’s even a couple of celebrity authors on the list. Any without further ado, I present my favourite authors!

  1. Jodi Picoult – is this a surprise? Anyone who reads my blogs will already know my love for Jodi Picoult’s writing. She has written some of my favourite books and I love that each and every book she’s written is completely and utterly unique. She writes books about topics that no other authors tend to write, about difficult topics. Her books books range from suicide pacts, racism, school shootings, brittle bone disease and autism, and I truly love her for that. I’ve even had the pleasure of seeing Jodi Picoult speak about her books, and she is the loveliest lady in person as well! Book recommendation: The Storyteller dsc_0133
  2. Sarah J Maas – Again, this is no secret, I love Sarah J Maas. I was so conflicted when A Court of Thorns and Roses was released because I was fully in love with Throne of Glass. I didn’t think I could enjoy a book series more than Throne of Glass but A Court of Thorns and Roses is even better in my opinion. Definitely recommend both book series written by her.
  3. Malorie Blackman – Malorie Blackman was one of my favourite authors when I was in my teens and I still love her writing to this day. I find myself re-reading the Noughts and Crosses series every now and again, usually every couple of years, because they’re like my security blanket books. Some people re-read Harry Potter, I always turn to Noughts and Crosses. They’re brilliantly written and there are very few teen books I’ve read that tackle racism and politics in such an understandable way!
  4. Rosamund Lupton – I always get a thrill whenever I hear that there is a new Rosamund Lupton book coming out, and it’s something I look forward to for months before hand. Rosamund Lupton writes thrillers with a twist. You will never EVER see her endings coming and it’s one of the reasons that I love her writing. Other than the fact that she makes you fall in love with characters and makes them feel like their your best friend. Book recommendation: Afterwardsdsc_0138
  5. J.K Rowling – how could I not include the Harry Potter author on this list? Harry Potter defined my childhood, my dad used to read me the books at bedtime and whenever a new book was released, I would go to midnight releases of the books and would even get dressed up as a wizard when I went! I will admit however, that I have not read her latest books (do they count if they’re written under a pseudonym?). I need to reread Harry Potter, it’s been too long!
  6. Bill Bryson – I always try to read a Bill Bryson book a year, I love his writing style and I love how I always walk away from his books having learned something new. I’ve not read many of Bill Bryson’s books, I always take a while to read them for some reason but I would definitely include Bryson as one of my favourite authors. I don’t have a specific favourite by Bill Bryson, all his books are so different and teach you so much that I think you should join me in reading them all!
  7. Heather Gudenkauf – I have my mother to thank for introducing me to Heather Gudenkauf’s wonderful thrillers. Much like Rosamund Lupton, Gudenkauf throws twists and turns into her writing that you will not ever see coming.   I’ve not actually read a book by Heather Gudenkauf for a while, which of course means that as soon as this post is done, I’m away to order more of her books! Recommendation: One Breath Away
  8. Giovanna Fletcher – now, I know that this might seem a little weird because the last post I wrote about Mrs Fletcher was a scathing review about Always With Love, but overall, I love Giovanna’s writing. I will admit, I have a little bit of a girl crush on Giovanna (and her whole family) so I do get a little bit too excited whenever she releases a new book. I immediately have to go and pre-order her new books as soon as I hear about them. And who doesn’t need more feel good, chick lit in their lives? Recommendation: Dream A Little Dream
  9. Richard Hammond – Okay, so I admit this is a little bit of a weird one to be included in this list, but I love all the auto-biographies that Richard Hammond has written. I love reading about the adventure he’s gotten up to on Top Gear from his sole perspective and I think that his book On The Edge is one of my all time favourite reads. It talks about his life after the high speed crash that happened whilst filming Top Gear and the aftermath of dealing with his brain injury.
  10. Ryan Graudin – I’ve recently found a new out about Ryan Graudin and I am in love. Graudin’s Wolf by Wolf series is becoming one of my favourite series. I love that the Wolf by Wolf series tackles WW2 as a young adult topic, but I love it even more that it’s written as if Hitler had won the war, that really appeals to my inner geek! After reading that one series, I’ve since purchased The Walled City and I fully intend to read it soon within the year.dsc_0140

I hope this gives you a little more insight into my reading habits and my ‘auto-buy’ authors. I’m away to go and browse through all these wonderful authors and perhaps buy some of their books that I’ve never purchased yet!

The Black House – Peter May

As you all know from my many other book reviews, I’m not really a crime fiction enthusiast. However, my dad recommended that I read The Black House so I delved into the world of Scottish crime for the first time this year.

The Black House follows Fin McLeod as he tries to solve a murder on the Isle of Lewis which appears to be connected to a murder in Edinburgh. After struggling to come to terms with the death of his child, McLeod now faces returning to his childhood home and all the memories that come with returning to the island, whether those memories are good or bad. As McLeod tries to solve the murder, he has to question whether the people he grew up with are capable of murder.

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What I liked the most about this book was that although the book is primarily about solving crime, that’s not all the novel is about. Throughout The Black House, in a series of flashbacks, you’re told about Fin’s childhood and what it was like growing up on the Isle of Lewis. I’ve rarely experienced that extra dimension of character building in a crime novel before and I must admit, I loved learning more about the culture on the island. I’ve been to Lewis on holiday previously, which was why my dad recommended this book, and the setting was definitely my favourite part of reading.

The characters are very well developed throughout the plot, again, I think the flashbacks really add to the development of not only Fin, but of Artair and Marsaili as well. I found myself wanting to pick the book up and read, so I flew through the novel fairly quickly and it definitely held my interest the entire time. Without spoiling the ending of the book for anyone who may want to read it, I will say that I most definitely did not see the twist towards the end coming. Which is exactly what you want from a good crime novel!

Crime isn’t my favourite genre, but I did enjoy reading The Black House. Having said that, I didn’t enjoy the book that much that I want to continue on with the series. 3 out of 5 stars.

 

A Darker Shade of Magic – V.E Schwab

This is yet another book that I purchased on a whim after hearing Regan, from Peruse Project, raving about it on her YouTube channel. I will admit, it’s been a long time since I’ve last read a book about magic, and I don’t know why I’ve left it this long. I love magic, and I particularly love YA magic novels.


A Darker Shade of Magic is a great magical fantasy novel, which follows Kell as he travels between three different versions of London with messages for the rulers of each realm. After he bumps into and is robbed by Lila, and ultimately saves him from someone after his life, they team up together to help save all the Londons.

I loved this book, I just think I would have enjoyed it a little more in my teens than I did in my twenties. The characters are well developed, I did fall a little bit in love with Kell (even with his black magical eye) and I found myself routing for Kell and Lila the whole way through the book. I found the aspect of the different London’s really interesting, I would have liked a little more development of the other ‘realms’, particularly Grey London as you find out very little about the ‘realms’ other than meeting their rulers. However, the storyline was gripping and I was hooked within a couple of chapters of reading.

I will definitely be continuing with series at some point in the year, and I will be looking forward to it.

Four of out Five stars.

 

Winter Skincare

I know everyone complains about their skin in winter, this year my skin has been terrible. It’s so dry from my workplace and from outdoor activities and I cannot seen to get it moisturiser and feeling healthy. I’ve been spotty recently as well so I thought I would do a little blog post updating you of all the changes to my skincare routine.

As throughout the summer months, I’ve been using my trusty Simple cleanser and toner in the morning to clean my face before doing my make-up.

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I’ve also been using the Simple Oil Balancing Moisturiser in the morning to try to combat my spot bteakouts. I love this moisturiser and it leaves my skin feeling super soft in the morning. Then I do my make up as normal.

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I’ve stopped using my facewash every morning, but instead use it only when I shower (every other day) and when I use the facewash, I skip cleansing and toning as I find that makes my skin breakout more. However, on days where I have been using a facewash, I’ve been sticking to Simple’s oil balancing one.

At night time, I’ve changed my routine a lot. I’ve started using a lot more products at night to try and get my skin feeling and looking healthy again. Firstly, I’ve changed to using Clinique’s Take The Day Off cleansing balm to remove my make up. I love how fresh, clean and soft this makes my face feel and since I’ve started using it, I’ve noticed my breakouts have calmed down a little. What I also like about the cleansing balm is that you use a washcloth to remove the balm so I’m using a lot less disposable face pads and it doesn’t feel so harsh on my skin.

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Next, I’ve been using Superdrug’s facial oil, which smells amazing and leaves my skin feeling incredible. Even in the morning, my skin is feeling more hydrated! What I like about the oil is that although it is an oil, it’s not too greasy and it doesn’t leave a residue like a few of the other facial oils I’ve tried.

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Then comes my No.7 night cream. My sister raved about the New No.7 night creams to me a while ago and I thought I would pick one up and see if it was any good. I love it, although I am not overly keen on the smell of the cream. However, I can get over that when it leaves my skin feeling so soft and healthy.

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For the rest of my body, I’ve been using my trusty Aveeno body lotion which is always my go to moisturiser. I have always been and will always be a loyal Aveeno lover. I swear by the stuff.

It seems to be working so far, I feel like my skin is healthier and it certainly feels a lot softer. I’ve been using my new products and routine for a couple of weeks now so the breakouts haven’t cleared fully, but I am hoping the spots will soon disappear.

*Disclaimer, this post is not sponsored by any brands, all opinions are my own and the products are my genuine favourites

Always With Love – Giovanna Fletcher

I’ve been thinking about how to write this book review, because I love Giovanna Fletcher, as a human, as a YouTuber and as an author. But I just didn’t enjoy Always With Love. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Billy and Me and I can’t say that I was very excited about reading the sequel. However, I don’t want to come across as mean or hateful in this review.

I love romance and chick lit, but this book and it’s prequel Billy and Me are not my cup of tea. I didn’t find the story appealing, I didn’t connect very well with the characters and I wasn’t gripped by the writing. I took forever to read this book, because I couldn’t find the urge to pick the book up and read.

My main problem with Always With Love, and Billy and Me is the character of Billy. He’s not my idea of a romantic interest; the relationship between Billy and Sophie is not healthy, there is very little trust and respect between the two of them and it annoys me so much. I don’t ‘desire’ to have Billy as a boyfriend, I wouldn’t even want him as a friend. They way that Sophie and Billy treat each other is exceptionally immature.

That’s all I’m going to say about Billy and Me because the more I think about it, the more problems I find with the book. I’m sure plenty of people will have loved this book, it just wasn’t for me. Having said that, I love Giovanna Fletcher’s other novels and I would highly recommend Dream a Little Dream to every reader!

February TBR 

Well, we’re one month into 2017 already. This year is going to fly by, I can tell. Here’s what I am aiming to read this upcoming month: 

Charlotte’s Web – E.B White: this is one of the books that I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve never read. It’ll be a quick and easy read to get the reading month started. 

Books I Need to Read in 2017

I’m sure you all know the struggles of being a bookworm and having a huge TBR pile, you forget about books that you’ve had for years and instead buy new ones to read. Or is that just me? There are so many books that I’ve been meaning to get around to reading on my TBR pile and I feel like 2017 is the year to tackle them. I’ve set myself a goal of reading 30 books this year, and I’m going to name 10 books that I want to read before the year is out to try and tackle my ever growing TBR pile.

Lone Wolf – Jodi Picoult: Nicole, why have you still not read this book? It’s the only Jodi Picoult book that I haven’t read and that is not acceptable! Get on it woman!

The Railway Man – Eric Lomax: I’ve been meaning to read this book for ages as well, after my mum recommended it and watching the film.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society– Mary Ann Shaffer: Okay, so this would be a reread, but I’ve not read this book since I joined Goodreads which is unacceptable. We all know how much I love World War stories!

The Final Empire – Brandon Sanderson – seriously, why have I not picked this up yet? Well, I have but then I got distracted and put it down again.

The God Delusion – Richard Dawkins – I love non-fiction and I’ve been meaning to pick this book up for a while now. I’ll most likely read this slowly alongside another book or two because I find that non-fiction can be draining sometimes.

The Beach – Alex Garland – This is technically a re-read as well, because this is one of my favourite novels of all time. However, I’ve not read it since I joined Goodreads so I think it’s time to pick it up again

Charlotte’s Web – E.B White – this is a book that I am ashamed to say that I have not ever read. I’ve had a beautiful edition sat on my bookshelves since I was a little girl, but I’ve never read it. I need to rectify this!

Little Women – Louisa M Alcott – This is another book that I’m ashamed to say I’ve never read. Woops!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J K Rowling – again, a book I’ve read but haven’t read for years. Not since a joined Goodreads….why?

S. – JJ Abrams – I bought this book with the intention to read it when I moved out and into a place of my own (because it has a lot of inserts which are easily losable) and yet, I’m almost a year into living with boyfriend and I’ve still not picked this up!

What books are you hoping to cross of your TBR pile this year? Any books that you’re ashamed that you haven’t read?

 

My 2017 Goals

Okay, so I’m super late with this blog post, because it’s almost February, but these aren’t really resolutions as such but more goals that I want to aim towards for the rest of the year. I don’t often talk about much else but books and reading on my blog, with the occasional travel blog post but I wanted to tell you guys all about my 2017 goals.

1. Waste Less Money – As a society, I think we spend too much money on things we don’t actually need. Do you really need the lastest model of iPhone, or are you just buying it to be ‘cool’ and ‘trendy’? I’m as guilty as everyone for this, I waste so much money on shopping that I don’t need. My biggest money waster – buying lunch at work

2. Use Less Plastic – I am a huge eco-warrior and I want to take environmentalism a little further this year and I aim to do that buy consuming less plastic throughout the year. I’ve been spurred on by the #zerowaste and #lessplastic on Instagram and so far I’ve been doing quite well. I’ve been carrying my water bottle with me all the time, I’ve been buying individual fruits and veg and I’ve been thinking more about what I’m eating and buying more and the plastic-free alternatives (or lack thereof). I think it’s important to be aware of what we use and buy and how big a role plastic plays in our lives and the impact it has on the earth, our health and the health of the planet for future generations.

 

So that’s my two little goals for 2017, I’ll keep you posted as I go about the trials and tribulations of not necessarily going #zerowaste, but certainly going #lesswaste and #lessplastic

Talking As Fast as I Can – Lauren Graham

I cannot explain to you all just how excited I got when I discovered that not only did Lauren Graham release an autobiography, but that she narrates the audiobook herself. So of course, I HAD to get it as my audible purchase for the month. I feel like I should put a disclosure here stating that I am a HUGE Gilmore Girls fan so I was always destined to love this book from the moment that I found about it.

Lauren Graham takes you through her life, her struggles to find a steady acting role, and gives you the advice that she’s picked up from mingling with celebrities along the way. She tells you of her romance failures, her fashion disasters and she lets you know what it was like picking up the role of Lorelai Gilmore again. Talking as fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and everything in between) is one of the funniest, if not the funniest autobiographies I’ve ever had the pleasure to read.

Throughout the book, Lauren Graham is witty, friendly and very genuine. The book feels like it was written by a friend who is giving you some life advice and telling you a few stories. Her sense of humour is my exact sense of humour, and I found myself laughing aloud on my car journeys whilst listening to this book. I love her sarcasm and how ‘real’ she seems throughout this book, like a normal human rather than a ‘celebrity’.

The one thing that I will say is that I think listening to the audiobook really added to the feel of the book, because you got to hear everything through the voice of the author in the way that she wanted it to be read. I honestly, cannot rave about this book enough, anyone who is a fan of Lauren Graham or the Gilmore Girls should definitely pick it up and I would highly recommend listening to it as an audiobook!

Talking as Fast as I Can was the best way to start off my 2017 reading year!