Sunday, 26 March 2017

Weekly Round Up #25 : In which I am so jet-lagged

Here's my weekly roundup. I'm linking to The Sunday Post hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer and #IMWAYR hosted by Kathryn at the Book Date.


Please leave a link to your blog (if you have one) in your comment or make sure your Disqus profile has your address so that I can visit you back! 

8 Timezones - me and my three year old - 2 days of travelling...... Jet-lag is always a killer but this time the kid is also feeling it!

On the up side we went to my cousin's combined 30th and 21st last night and that was a great evening full of family, funny pictures, memories and laughs. 

I'm fairly behind on my blogging and still have a lot of blogs to visit and comment on but I decided to post this weekend instead of taking a break because I will have time to catch up and blog hop towards the end of the week and I love the interaction! 

What I read last week:

Black Snow

Black Snow was actually quite good but was a three star for me. More on that in my review to follow.

What I am currently reading:

Strange the DreamerThe Kingmaker

Strange the Dreamer has been great for me so far. I'm only about 30% through though - hopefully I'll find some more reading time ASAP!

Up Next:


When I finally get through the above two books I plan on starting this from my backlist - I read the first one and was pretty underwhelmed but I really want to try book two. 

New Arrivals:


Lindsey from over at Lindsey Reads reviewed this one and made me so interested that I couldn't pass up the opportunity to read and review it! I can't wait! :)

And that's my week! How did yours go?
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Friday, 24 March 2017

The Blog Squad: A Blogger Collaboration - Part VI

We are a group of three book bloggers situated on different continents but brought together by our love for books and a penchant for talking about them. We’ve joined our forces to create a collaborative series of posts about book blogging and we hope you’ll enjoy the discussions.


Blog scheduling - Do you do it?

Uma says...

I’ve only ever properly scheduled The Blog Squad posts as the three of us live in different time zones and posting at the same time can only be achieved by scheduling. That being said, while I don’t “schedule” my other posts, I do plan them pretty well. I have a diary in which I write out outlines of posts (other than reviews) so it’s easy for me. But sadly, I haven’t been able to do that of late due to my college life being hectic! I’ll be completing my undergraduate degree in a couple of months and currently the only thing I’m planning are study time tables and stuff like that #notfun

But I do know that once my exams are over, like Amy, I’ll be epicly organized with blogging. For me, planning posts beforehand makes blogging so much easier and I always feel more relaxed when I know what’s going up on my blog the whole of next week or so.

Amy says...

Scheduling in the sense that you set a date and time and your post goes up automatically: I only do that for Blog Squad posts since we’re in different time zones and it gets really confusing otherwise.
But for me, scheduling kind of means something different. I plan posts way in advance, and often do them (or half of them) days before I actually publish them. That’s what I call scheduling, and my diary is packed with “post schedules”. I literally never type a post on the day it goes up (unless it’s a review), and I work on it way before that date; whenever I have time, basically.  I’m a bit *too* organised with blogging, and am rather rigid with my schedule and often plan weeks in a advance.
That’s what scheduling means for me: while I don’t set posts to go up automatically, I plan them and write them way in advance. It means that I literally never stress about posts or worry about  whether I’ll have time to do them; it makes things a lot easier, and I don’t think I’d be able to cope otherwise!

I really admire Di for how she does it; I don’t think I’d ever be able to be like that!   

Is there an acceptable number of posts per week for a book blog?

Uma says...

Okay this is quite a tricky question. I for one don’t like to post everyday. At the same time, I can’t not post at least once every week. A blogger does have to reasonably active. One post a month or so is NOT active. While I used to post about 4 times a week, currently it has reduced to 2 per week because of-you guessed it- exams! I’ll probably go back to 3-4 times a week after the exams but not more. I have many reasons for that.

A statistical reason is that find I get more comments on a post if it's on top of my blog for at least 2 days. If I were to post everyday, while I’ll probably get the same amount of comments overall, they’d be scattered across my various posts. (Does that make sense?) I think that’s because when we visit blogs for the first time, it’s the first post we decide to check out. The longer a post is at the top of the blog, more the traffic it gets. (but this definitely does not mean you should post just once or twice a month)

Another reason is that I don’t want to overwhelm my regular visitors. Readers can’t visit my blog everyday. I don’t want them to be faced with 7 or 8 new posts every time they visit.

Another more important reason is I don’t want to overwhelm MYSELF. I can only plan fun and enjoyable posts when I like doing it. Now if I start giving myself deadlines and pressures, I can hardly write happily.

I think it’s important to be active on your blog, and in the blogosphere. Commenting and interacting on other blogs is as important as posting on your own. You could post everyday and write amazing posts but for people to find your blog, they first need to know it exists. So go out there and make friends in the blogosphere!

Amy says...

I say yes, because as a blog follower I want to see regular posts from the blogs I follow, and as a blogger I want to assure my readers of consistency and keep them coming back. I personally have 3 “set” posts per week on my blog: Weekly Round-Up on Sunday, Waiting on Wednesday on Wednesday, and The Blog Squad on Friday. In between, I’ll do reviews and other posts, but they aren’t cast in stone.  

I like to see posts from bloggers about two to three times a week. It keeps me interested, keeps me following, and shows they’re taking their blogging seriously and are committed to it. I personally think consistency is the biggest factor in getting publicity and followers for your blog, especially if you’ve just started blogging. I had no followers for a long time when I first started, but I posted three times a week all the same; I wanted people to see that I was sticking around, that I would always have posts up on those days, and so on.  It helps build a following, and keeps your readers coming back and knowing what to expect.

Book Blitzes and Blog Tours - Your take

Uma says...

I have participated in just 2 or 3 book blitzes and one blog tour.and truthfully I quite enjoyed them. Programs like Xpresso Book Tours do a really good job of organizing blitzes and tours. I do think these are a great way to get to know about new books; especially indie books.

I love book tours for you get so much information about a single book within the span - multiple reviews, author interviews and more help one get a pretty three dimensional idea of the book. I enjoy taking part and following book tours for this very reason.

I will be actively taking part in book tours from the month of May and hopefully help some wonderful indie authors and their books be recognized!

Amy says...

I haven’t done many blog tours or blitzes (counting: one blitz, and one blog tour that fell through when I didn’t like the book they sent me to review….oops). But I think they are both excellent things to participate in, and a program like Xpresso Book Tours is an awesome way to get involved, get free books, and meet new people.
But a large part of not participating in blog tours, is because I don’t read e-books. If I did, I would be able to take part in a lot more tours and blitzes. As it is, print copies are not usually offered for review as part of a blog tour; for example, Xpresso Book Tours only offer e-books.

Of course, there are tours and blitzes where you don’t need to review the book or read it. Unfortunately, considering the ones I’ve looked at, those often don’t offer books I’m interested in.  Most of the books I’ve seen or been offered to advertise are ones I would never read or otherwise support, and thus I don’t feel comfortable publicizing them on my blog.

In all honesty, I’m not as active as I could be when it comes to looking at blog tour options and blitzes. If I’m emailed and offered to participate, then I’ll consider it, but I don’t really go out looking for opportunities.   

To see my answers make sure to visit the other collab posts!

We hope you’ve enjoyed our discussion post! Please talk to us and let us know YOUR answers below. What do you think of our responses? If you have any specific questions you’d like us to address in the future, please let us know in the comments section below. Stay tuned for next week’s questions!

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Sunday, 19 March 2017

Weekly Round Up #24 : In which I read a lot but still haven't caught up... AT ALL

Here's my weekly roundup. I'm linking to The Sunday Post hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer and #IMWAYR hosted by Kathryn at the Book Date.


Please leave a link to your blog (if you have one) in your comment or make sure your Disqus profile has your address so that I can visit you back! 

I may be a little more sleep deprived than usual, BUT!!! I managed to complete THREE BOOKS last week! I had read a lot of one the week before, but still! THREE BOOKS! This didn't seem to help my numbers at all though since Goodreads still manages to inform me that I'm six books behind...  

This week will be... Interesting. I'll be travelling with my three year old in tow - by myself... Through two countries and eight timezones.... If you don't hear from me often - that is why!

What I read last week:

Island of Exhiles
Black LotusBlood Orchid

OMG guys! I don't know why I haven't heard SOOOO much more about Island of Exiles. It was fantastic! It totally deserves more hype. If you're even remotely interested check out my review here and add it to your TBR! 

The Black Lotus and Blood Orchid I read as part of a blog tour for YA Bound. Although the editing let it down somewhat it was a compelling story and I'm still toying with my ratings.

What I am currently reading:

Strange the Dreamer

I am excited to sit down and really get into this one. I haven't read a Laini Taylor before and her prose is different to anything that I've been reading lately. I've seen some AMAZING ratings around the blogosphere which both excites and terrifies me! 

Up Next:

The Kingmaker

A review copy and one for the #LetsReadIndie challenge!

New Arrivals:

Again - no requests last week! I'm proud of myself for attempting to catch up on my review stack! I'm also trying to get back to a few backlisted books so here's hoping I manage to do that before my pre-orders come in!!! ;)

And that's my week! How did yours go?
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Friday, 17 March 2017

The Blog Squad: A Blogger Collaboration - Part V

We are a group of three book bloggers situated on different continents but brought together by our love for books and a penchant for talking about them. We’ve joined our forces to create a collaborative series of posts about book blogging and we hope you’ll enjoy the discussions.


Uma says...

Ah! So many reasons for why I follow a blog! Sometimes it’s because the blogger is following me and I’m returning the favor by following back or sometimes I make friends with someone on Goodreads/ Twitter and hence decide to follow their blog. But mostly, it’s the content that makes me visit a blog again and again and eventually follow it.

Most of the blogs I follow have wonderful discussion posts, well written helpful reviews and interesting content basically! Also I prefer to follow blogs with good interaction and interesting conversations.

And as my friends have pointed out, blog layout is a factor - maybe not a big one but it’s there all the same. I’d like it if the blog loads quickly and is easy to navigate. When I’m confused by the blog’s layout, I’m not so keen to visit again. The design could be elaborate or simple or anything in between as long as it is clear and easy to navigate.

Also something very important, it should be easy to follow. Many a times I find a blog I really like but I can’t ‘cause I can’t find the follow button! I’d like to see some means of follow in the sidebar or the footer to make it easy!

Amy says...

Hard, HARD question!

Sometimes I follow almost instantly because I love the blog’s layout design. Sometimes it’s because I’ve enjoyed a particular review or post and want to see more. Sometimes it’s because that blogger has followed me and I want to follow back to show my appreciation.

I actually follow an unhealthy number of blogs, and thus never get to visit all of them! I’m following 168 blog via GFC, and 821 via Bloglovin’...... *gulps*
I need to do a clean-up at some stage, but at the moment I’m too lazy ;) There are certain blogs I always visit and comment on, and unfortunately others that I never get round to.
I think I need to do a clean-up…...

Uma says...

I’ve mostly found blogs via Goodreads Groups, Twitter and Instagram. I must say that Twitter group chats are a great way of meeting new bloggers and discovering similar blogs. Some really awesome blogs I’ve come across are via the comments in my blog! I’ve also discovered great blogs via Amy’s and Di’s comments too.

Amy says...

I find blogs in a very round-about way. If someone follows my blog, then I’ll check theirs out. Sometimes, if I’m looking for blogs specifically (going on a “blog-hunt” I call it), I’ll discover them by clicking on people’s google accounts that have followed other blogs. For example, I often click on Di or Uma’s GFC gadget when I see they’ve got a new follower, and I’ll scroll through that person’s blog list and randomly chose people to visit.  

Twitter is another great way to discover bloggers. Comment chains are another fantastic way, too. If I’m on Uma or Di’s or someone else’s blog that I follow, and see that someone I don’t recognise has commented on one of their posts, I’ll follow that person’s profile link to their blog. That’s my favourite way of blog discovering, and the one that I do most often. It’s awesome, simple, and I have discovered some amazing blogs that way!        

Uma says...

The content. If I have views regarding the topic being discussed in the post or if I’ve read / looking forward to read the book being talked about, I would most definitely leave a comment. Sometimes, as Amy does, I leave a comment to support a new blogger.

I also comment on the blogs whose owners have commented on my blog. This is a part of the ‘comment back’ policy I follow! I love getting comments on my post and want to show some love to other blogs too!

But yes, mostly if I’m leaving a comment on your blog, it’s because I love what you’ve written and want to show my appreciation as well as express my views.

Amy says...

Gosh, hard question!
Most of the time when it’s a new blog I’ve discovered, I comment just to be friendly and introduce myself and show some blogging love. Sometimes it’ll also be because I loved that particular review or post, and if it’s a blogger I know well and are following, then in addition to loving their post, I’ll just comment to show support.  

I LOVE getting comments on my own blog, and I know how awesome it feels.  If I discover a new blog with hardly any followers, then I’ll comment because I want to support the blogger and give them some comment love.

It’s wonderful getting comments, and I want every blogger to be excited by them!    

To see my answers make sure to visit the other collab posts!

We hope you’ve enjoyed our discussion post! Please talk to us and let us know YOUR answers below. What do you think of our responses? If you have any specific questions you’d like us to address in the future, please let us know in the comments section below. Stay tuned for next week’s questions!

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Thursday, 16 March 2017

Book Blitz: Bellamy and The Brute - Alicia Michaels

Bellamy and The Brute
Alicia Michaels
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: March 13th 2017
Genres: Fairy Tales, Retelling, Young Adult
A fresh twist on a classic story, Bellamy and the Brute proves true love really is blind.
When Bellamy McGuire is offered a summer job babysitting for the wealthy Baldwin family, she’s reluctant to accept. After all, everyone in town knows about the mysterious happenings at the mansion on the hill—including the sudden disappearance of the Baldwin’s eldest son, Tate. The former football star and golden boy of Wellhollow Springs became a hermit at the age of sixteen, and no one has seen or heard from him since. Rumors abound as to why, with whisperings about a strange illness—one that causes deformity and turned him into a real-life monster. Bellamy wants to dismiss these rumors as gossip, but when she’s told that if she takes the job, she must promise to never, ever visit the third floor of the mansion, she begins to wonder if there really is some dark truth hidden there.
Tate’s condition may not be the only secret being kept at Baldwin House. There are gaps in the family’s financial history that don’t add up, and surprising connections with unscrupulous characters. At night there are strange noises, unexplained cold drafts, and the electricity cuts out. And then there are the rose petals on the staircase. The rose petals that no one but Bellamy seems to be able to see. The rose petals that form a trail leading right up to the 3 rd floor, past the portrait of a handsome young man, and down a dark hallway where she promised she would never, ever go…
As Bellamy works to unravel the mysteries of Baldwin House and uncover the truth about Tate, she realizes that she is in way over her head… in more ways than one. Can her bravery and determination help to right the wrongs of the past and free the young man whose story has captured her heart?

Author Bio:
Ever since she first read books like Chronicles of Narnia or Goosebumps, Alicia has been a lover of mind-bending fiction. Wherever imagination takes her, she is more than happy to call that place her home. With several Fantasy and Science Fiction titles under her belt, Alicia strives to write multicultural characters and stories that touch the heart. V-Card, the first book of the Sharing Spaces series, was her first Contemporary Romance.
The mother of three and wife to a soldier, she loves chocolate, coffee, and of course good books. When not writing, you can usually find her with her nose in a book, shopping for shoes and fabulous jewelry, or spending time with her loving family.

From the Author:

10 Things I Love About Beauty and the Beast

Boy meets girl. Boy is a total jerk (and a bit of an animal). Girl looks deeper to see that boy isn’t what he seems. Boy resists at first, but girl is too kind and inwardly beautiful … boy falls in love with girl. Girl realizes she loves boy even though he’s a beast.
The tale is a classic one, and the concept of a beauty falling in love with a beast, despite his falls, one that we can all identify with. There’s a reason that the tale of Beauty and the Beast continues to be retold through the ages. Something about it makes us believe in true love … because if Belle can learn to love the Beast, then it truly must be real … as well as undiscriminating.
In honor of the release of Bellamy and the Brute, as well as the movie remake of Beauty and the Beast, here are 10 things I love about one of my favorite movies of all time.

10. Gaston. Okay, so I know he’s the villain, and we’re supposed to hate the bad guy. But hear me out. Gaston is one of my favorite Disney villains, because you really don’t see him coming. Most bad guys make themselves known as the antagonists from the jump … they hate the hero or heroine for (fill in the blank) reason, and want to destroy them. But, really, all Gaston wants is for Belle to recognize his perfection. What starts off as a seemingly stupid and harmless annoyance, becomes dangerous by the time all is said and done. I think it’s a testament to how villains are made in real life … ignorance that gains strength over time.
9. The Music. Because, who doesn’t sing along to ‘Be Our Guest’ or cry when they hear ‘Beauty and the Beast’ In a movie like Beauty and the Beast, the music must be acknowledged, and these songs are truly iconic.
8. Maurice (Bell’s Dad). Because he was just so darn loveable and I couldn’t help but see a bit of my own father in him. I just wanted to give him a big ole hug!
7. Mrs. Potts. Because Angela Lansbury (voice of Mrs. Potts) is an angel from heaven and her rendition of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ brings tears to my eyes. Every. Time.
6. Beast’s House & Library. Sure, the castle of the beast is presented as sort of sinister when Belle first approaches. But, as an adult, I can’t help but watch the movie again and appreciate the architecture, as well as the décor and furniture. And that library? Yasssss!
5. Bell’s iconic yellow/gold gown. Because I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t wrap bedsheets around myself and twirl around pretending to wear that beautiful ball gown. Easily THE most iconic princess outfit of them all. Yes, more iconic than Cinderella’s. Sorry, Cinders.
4. The scene where all the talking furniture goes against Gaston and his gang. This was one of the most epic battles of Disney history, and possibly the funniest. The part where the talking armoire leaps down to crush someone while emitting an opera-like cry? Comedic gold, I tell ya!
3. The Waltz. One of the most romantic things I’ve ever seen was Belle and Beast waltzing in that beautiful ballroom. Le, sigh!
2. Belle. What’s not to like about a strong, smart heroine. Belle wasn’t just beautiful on the outside. She was truly kind and generous, while also reminding the people around her that she wasn’t to be trifled with. Gaston, especially. She was not weakling, and she checked Gaston on his B.S. every chance she got. Plus, she was a bookworm, giving me someone to relate to as a kid, being the girl with her nose always in a book and all.
1. Lumiere and Cogsworth. We all know the movie is about Belle and Beast and their epic romance … but I have to say I was also really into the bromance between a talking candlestick and talking clock. The banter, the arguing, the working together to get their mutual friend a girlfriend so they could all be human again … let’s keep it real. Those two were the real MVPs of Beauty and the Beast.

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Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Review: Island of Exiles - Erica Cameron

Island of Exiles
Island of Exiles by Erica Cameron
Series: The Ryogan Chronicles

My rating: {★★★★★}

YA Fantasy
Published February 14th 2017 by Entangled: Teen

Source: Entangled: Teen via NetGalley
In this diverse, gritty survival fantasy, a girl warrior turns against her island clan to find the brother they claim died, uncovering secrets. Perfect for fans of Graceling and Snow Like Ashes.

In Khya’s world, every breath is a battle.

On the isolated desert island of Shiara, dying young is inevitable. The clan comes before self, and protecting her home means Khya is a warrior above all else.

But when following the clan and obeying their leaders could cost her brother his life, Khya's home becomes a deadly trap. The only person who can help is Tessen, her lifelong rival and the boy who challenges her at every turn. The council she hoped to join has betrayed her, and their secrets, hundreds of years deep, reach around a world she's never seen.

To save her brother’s life and her island home, her only choice is to trust Tessen, turn against her clan, and go on the run—a betrayal and a death sentence.
I have NO idea why this book hasn't had more hype! I really, really enjoyed it and it's like nothing I have ever read - which is saying something, especially in the YA world!

The world building is complex, thorough and absolutely fascinating: Erica Cameron has done an AMAZING job of creating a distinctive and diverse fantasy world.

The writing is descriptive and yet easy to read and the world is full of gritty and shocking detail. There's a glossary provided at the back of the book to help orient the reader (if necessary) and it's clear that every last detail has been so well thought out in advance; from the social structure to the politics to the culture. There's a whole lexicon of rankings and unique terms and while this may be confusing or intimidating to some readers, THIS particular reader was entirely grateful and appreciative of the intricacies and involvement of this world and the sheer depth of world-building involved.

The island of Shiara is dystopian-esque in quality and the intensity of the plot is breathtaking from the very first chapter.

I absolutely LOVED how effortlessly diverse this book is. It wasn't diverse for the sake of being diverse; it just was. There were multiple sexual orientations (including asexual), an absolute plethora of varying skin colours, even a third gender with its own specific pronouns!! Yet none of this was unusual in this fantasy world and sex positive society.

The main character, Khya was just a breath of fresh air. She's a Desosa Mage which means she can manipulate energy and in her particular case she is a fykina ward mage -able to shield herself and others from both magic and the physical world. She's a warrior in every sense of the word and her fierceness, stubborn nature and dedication both to the clan and to her brother completely endeared her to me and seeing this world through her POV and watching her character development throughout the book completely invested me in the world and the plot.

All of the characters in fact were just fantastically written - multilayered, complex and so REAL with their own personality quirks and flaws.

The romance!!! Wow, the romance. It was a complete SLOW BURN and somehow it featured all of my most favourite tropes and I just SHIPPED IT SO HARD!!! It was a total asset to the story and yet also managed never to be the center of attention and didn't take away from the main plot arc at all. I wouldn't mind seeing A LOT more of the romance in the next book - just saying!!

The magical system in this world is also really well thought out and systematic. There wasn't any one point where it was too unbelievable and the use of magic always took it's toll - I appreciate that in a fantasy.

This completely unique book is full of mind-blowing creativity, unpredictable twists and turns, one of the most enticing romances I have read in a while and a riveting plot that draws you in further and further until the desperation is palpable. I definitely cannot wait to read more of this series and I can't wait to see where Cameron takes us next.

Since the day one of the yonin nursemaids smiled at me and said, “You take very good care of your brother.”Your brother.
Yorri had been
mine—the first and only thing that had ever belonged to me more than the clan—and I promised to protect him; I swore it on blood before I knew how tightly those vows bind.
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