Sunday, 26 January 2014

Buying books from Charity Shops

Hey guys! I love browsing in bookshops, and if I could I would spend all day in Waterstones, looking through the shelves for my next babies. However, I am a student and don't have a full-time job so this dream is slightly unrealistic. That's why I love my Kindle so much - the books are so much cheaper and easier to find, particularly if they're not very new ones (I've done a post on the Pros and Cons of a Kindle if you want to have a gander at that). However, my next favourite thing is buying books from charity shops. I love the thought that the book has brought joy to someone else, and they then gave it away so it can bring joy to me. Additionally, the books are so cheap, which of course is a big bonus. I don't usually buy books but I saw a complete trilogy in my local Oxfam shop and each book was just 99p! I was powerless to resist...

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

28194 Cover and description from Goodreads

Twelve-year-old Meggie learns that her father, who repairs and binds books for a living, can "read" fictional characters to life when one of those characters abducts them and tries to force him into service.

Characters from books literally leap off the page in this engrossing fantasy. Meggie has had her father to herself since her mother went away when she was young. Mo taught her to read when she was five, and the two share a mutual love of books. He can "read" characters out of books. When she was three, he read aloud from a book called Inkheart and released characters into the real world. At the same time, Meggie's mother disappeared into the story. This "story within a story" will delight not just fantasy fans, but all readers who like an exciting plot with larger-than-life characters.

Cornelia Funke has been recommended to me several times, and I've also heard her name crop up in many YouTube videos I've seen. This book sounded really interesting, and I do like a bit of fantasy. Since it was so cheap (and the money is going to a good cause) I thought I'd try it out. I also got the second and third books in The Inkworld Trilogy at the same time...

Inkspell by Cornelia Funke

28195Cover and description from Goodreads

The captivating sequel to INKHEART, the critically acclaimed, international bestseller by Cornelia Funke, an author who is emerging as a truly modern classic writer for children.

Although a year has passed, not a day goes by without Meggie thinking of INKHEART, the book whose characters became real. But for Dustfinger, the fire-eater brought into being from words, the need to return to the tale has become desperate. When he finds a crooked storyteller with the ability to read him back, Dustfinger leaves behind his young apprentice Farid and plunges into the medieval world of his past. Distraught, Farid goes in search of Meggie, and before long, both are caught inside the book, too. But the story is threatening to evolve in ways neither of them could ever have imagined.

Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke

2325825 Cover and description from Goodreads


Ever since the extraordinary events of Inkspell, when the enchanted book Inkheart drew Meggie and her father, Mo, into its chapters, life in the Inkworld has been more tragic than magical.

The fire-eater Dustfinger is dead, having sacrificed his life for his apprentice Farid's, and now, under the rule of the evil Adderhead, the fairy-tale land is in bloody chaos, its characters far beyond the control of Fenoglio, their author. Even Elinor, left behind in the real world, believes her family to be lost - lost between the covers of a book.

Facing the threat of eternal winter, Mo inks a dangerous deal with Death itself. There yet remains a faint hope of changing the cursed story - if only he can fill its pages fast enough.

I think this series sounds quite interesting and I can't wait to see what I think of it. I'll be sure to put up reviews of the books when I get to them (They are perching precariously on the top of a massive to-read pile so...)  

Book Review: Long Lankin by Lindsay Barraclough

Hey there! I know this has come a little late, but I've had a bit of a hectic week and I really wanted my next post to be a review of Long Lankin. So, where shall I start? You can find the book cover and Goodreads description on my Library Haul post.

What's the deal?

Long Lankin is based on an old song and myth. Two young girls, Cora and her little sister Mimi, are forced to move into their Aunt Ida's old house in the small village of Byers Guerdon. They meet two village boys, Roger and his brother Pete, which is pretty much the only good thing that happens to the girls until probably the end of the book. Auntie Ida is not pleased to have the girls AT ALL (and that's an understatement), but as the novel progresses, strange things begin to happen, and we see that, actually, Auntie Ida may just have a point when it comes to not wanting the kids to stay. It's a hard book to summarise without giving away any of the plot, so I'm just going to say that Roger and Cora have their work cut out for them trying to keep themselves (and Mimi) alive.

How does it work?

The book is written in first person narration, and split into 3 viewpoints - Cora, Roger and Auntie Ida. It is structured sort of like a diary, as in it's chaptered by days, and is then split further into the 3 perspectives. Although this frequent change of perspective makes the narration a little choppy at times, it adds to the overall feel and fast pace of the book. It is quite slow to start (plenty of scene building), but it soon picks up in pace, and the seemingly irrelevant details given, often from Cora, such as the scratch marks on the doors, holes being dug in the garden and scrabbling noises on the roof late at night, all tie in at the end. Indeed, the book makes more and more sense the further in you go, and I often caught myself muttering "oh I see" or words to that effect in the second half.

The book is creepy pretty much from the offset, and I found it (although I am a self-confessed wimp) downright scary at times. It's the sort of book you wish you could put down just for a few minutes, just so you can catch your breath, gather your thoughts and reign in your imagination, but you actually can't bring yourself to turn away. Long Lankin is "regular book size" or maybe a bit longer (around 455 pages) but it's by no means a slog to get through - the changing perspectives and increasing levels of action gives it a short, snappy feel.

Completely Loved:

  • The character interaction between Cora and Roger. I loved their friendship and I'm so glad you see the events from both points of view. I also quite liked that there was no romance at all in the book. Now, I do like a good bit of romance, and Roger seems like he would be an amazing boyfriend, but the fact that they did everything together WITHOUT falling hopelessly in love and declaring undying affection by the end was just an added bonus.
  • The amount of description. This was such a detailed book, and I could see every scene unfolding in my head without having to make any conscious efforts to imagine anything (example that won't spoil anything: 'He gloats at us, drawing back his thin, wasted lips and showing us his pointed yellow teeth. He is smiling'). In some books you have to think a little harder to see the story unfold (not a bad thing at all, I have a very active imagination), but in Long Lankin, all you had to do was draw up the courage to actually read on.
  • Auntie Ida's character progression. At first, I thought Ida was a horrible person. Yes, I can appreciate she had some bad things going on and she was scared for Cora and Mimi, but she really is horrible to Cora. I didn't like the fact that she yells at and hits Cora repeatedly, yet doesn't so much as scold Mimi even though both of them broke the rules. However, as I read on, I found myself sympathising with Ida, and when I started to understand what was wrong, I just wanted to weep with her. It was a brilliant example of everything tying together in the end to make someone you didn't think much of into your hero.
  • It's based on a real myth. I love mythology, and I think that, for me, the fact that Barraclough based her book on an actual Northern myth and song really enhances the book.
Not so much:

  •  At times, I got ever so slightly annoyed with the characters, such as when Ida scolds Cora for any little thing but doesn't yell at Mimi, even though both of them were breaking Ida's rules. I also thought, at times, that Roger and Cora talking to each other sounded more like adults than children. HOWEVER, having finished the book I now see that the things I quietly criticised when I read them were either not what I thought they were, or are actually relevant or addressed later in the book. So I'm not sure this is an actual criticism of the book, more like an observation that if, like me, you get annoyed in parts, stick it out because it all comes together.

I didn't find this a particularly quotable book (and by that I mean life affirming type quotes that I will regularly spout at people), however I loved Roger and some of his lines really amused me. I'll put just a couple, and please leave any quotes that you guys particularly enjoyed in the comments below.

'Pete and me are pretty sure she's a witch, like old Gussie Jetherell, just down from us - though she definitely is. She's got lots of cats and that's a sign' ~ Roger

'Your mother's always going on about her and Uncle Ben being told the church was spooky when they were kids. That sort of thing doesn't scare me though. I fought Hitler' ~ Roger's dad, and I think it may have been the way I imagined him saying this that made it such a good line for me.

Final thoughts

I haven't read a lot of horror or "dark" books but Long Lankin really has given me a great introduction to the genre. Word of warning though: Unless your one of those "I'm not scared of anything" types, read this one in the midday light, not at bedtime! Rating wise, I'll give Long Lankin 4.5 out of 5, and I can safely say it's one of the best books I've read in a while. 


The sequel to Long Lankin - The Mark of Cain - is due out this year. The Random House website says that the publication date is 3rd July 2014. For me, July CANNOT come soon enough! I gather the sequel is more about Aphra Rushes (read Long Lankin if you want to know who she is!) not Long Lankin, and I am really interested in seeing more of her. Also, I can't wait to meet Cora again (and hopefully Roger!).

Hope you enjoyed this. If you've read Long Lankin, or if it's on your to-read list, leave a comment below!

Disclaimer: I borrowed the book Long Lankin from the library. I haven't been paid or bribed in any way to read or recommend it.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Library Haul

I haven't been to the library in ages, but I had a little time yesterday so I thought I'd pop in. I only took three books out, but they all seemed interesting, AND I found a couple to start my reading challenges this year. The books are:

Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough

9206583 Cover and description from Goodreads

Beware of Long Lankin, that lives in the moss. . . .When Cora and her younger sister, Mimi, are sent to stay with their elderly aunt in the isolated village of Byers Guerdon, they receive a less than warm welcome. Auntie Ida is eccentric and rigid, and the girls are desperate to go back to London. But what they don't know is that their aunt's life was devastated the last time two young sisters were at Guerdon Hall, and she is determined to protect her nieces from an evil that has lain hidden for years. Along with Roger and Peter, two village boys, Cora must uncover the horrifying truth that has held Bryers Guerdon in its dark grip for centuries -- before it's too late for little Mimi. Riveting and intensely atmospheric, this stunning debut will hold readers in its spell long after the last page is turned.

This book isn't to fit in with any challenges, but the idea of it appealed to me, as well as the fact that it is based on an actual legend, and so I thought I'd try it out.

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

6357708 Cover and description from Goodreads

Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris--the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She's determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.

Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts ferociously alongside her. But even as more girls' bodies pile up in the city and the Fenris seem to be gaining power, Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves. She finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an axe and Scarlett's only friend--but does loving him mean betraying her sister and all that they've worked for?

This book fits perfectly in the Fangs and Fur challenge as it's about werewolves and two girls who hunt them. I think the premise of the book sounds good as it's a retelling of the fairy-tale Red Riding Hood. I can't wait to read this one (also, I love how pretty the cover is!).

Bog Girl by Siobhan Dowd

2856645 Cover and description from Goodreads

DIGGING FOR PEAT in the mountain with his Uncle Tally, Fergus finds the body of a child, and it looks like she’s been murdered. As Fergus tries to make sense of the mad world around him—his brother on hunger-strike in prison, his growing feelings for Cora, his parents arguing over the Troubles, and him in it up to the neck, blackmailed into acting as courier to God knows what—a little voice comes to him in his dreams, and the mystery of the bog child unfurls. 

This one is by an Irish author, contains Irish characters and, I believe, is set in Ireland! What a perfect way to start my Ireland challenge. This idea also sounded interesting to me, but isn't the sort of thing I'd usually read so we'll see how it goes.

So thus concludes my library haul this time. I'm already quite a bit through Long Lankin, and I hope to start Sisters Red tonight so hopefully I'll have a review or two coming soon! If anyone has read any of these books and enjoyed them (or not!), please leave a comment saying what you liked or didn't like! Bye for now...


Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Reading Challenges 2014

Hey guys! I've decided to kick-start my blog by participating in some reading challenges this year. I looked through A Novel Challenge's blog and decided on three challenges I will try this year. They looked really interesting; one of them, the Fangs and Fur challenge, was right up my street as I love Supernatural books anyhow and the other two pushed me out of my comfort zone a little. This is my sign up post for all three, so keep reading for more info!

The first challenge that caught my eye is the Nonfiction challenge. I've never read much nonfiction, but I guess that's going to change this year!

This challenge is hosted on I believe, and I'm so excited for my first challenge! I'm signing up for the Explorer level (6-10 books), because I'm joining a few other challenges too and I have to study for important exams this summer too, so I think 6-10 is a nice amount especially as reading nonfiction is not my forte and I've never really gotten into it before. Who knows? I might even do more!


The next challenge I'm going to participate in this year in the Fur and Fangs challenge. I love reading Supernatural themed books anyway, so this challenge is kind of perfect for me. The challenge is simply to read books about werewolves, shape-shifting animals or vampires, so I think I can read quite a few this year.

This challenge is hosted on I believe, and I'm going to set my goal to 15 books for this challenge.

The final challenge I'm going to try this year is the Ireland Reading Challenge, which I think sounds really interesting. I haven't read a lot of Irish authors or Ireland-based books, but I'm always up for new things and it seems like a really cool one to try.

This challenge is hosted on I believe, and I'm signing up at the Shamrock level (4 books), although if I have the time, I hope I can read more than that.

I'll do an update post for each individual challenge probably every month, and also reviews of the books I read for each challenge. I'm really excited to get stuck into some good books, and I'm also looking forward to pushing myself a little with the nonfiction genre. I might have to go hunting around the library for some Ireland-based books though! Until next time...

Monday, 13 January 2014

Pros and Cons of...A Kindle

Hey bookworms! I have a Kindle, and I think it's the best thing since...well, books! But I know many people don't like Kindles, or are unsure if they should invest in one. So, I'm going to compile a little list of the things I love about my Kindle, as well as some things that might mean it's not as good as a traditional book.

I have the traditional Kindle - the one with the keyboard that you can't read in the dark. They've brought out a load of newer versions since I got mine. The Paperwhite, the Fire (which I really want) and a Fire HD (which I don't think is any different to the original Fire) and, I'm sure, quite a few more. I can only speak for the Kindle I use, and it is quite an old edition. So by this logic, all the things I talk about SHOULD (although I'm not certain) apply to the newer versions as well.


1) It's incredibly easy to use. Mine has a keyboard, and navigation arrow thingys (check out my awesome tech speak guys) which means it's quick and simple to scroll around, find books and read and buy them. You can buy off your Kindle (providing you have wifi) and then start reading about 20 seconds later. Any idiot (or genius *cough* moi *cough*) can use the Kindle. I believe the Fire has a touchscreen, which would presumably make it even simpler. 

2) The books can be so cheap. A lot of books on Kindle are cheaper than buying the paper versions. I've bought books that would be £10.99, or even £19.99 (if hardback is the only version available), for £2.99 on my Kindle. It has offers on books for one day only, where you can buy for 99p or something. In fact, I think I bought J. K. Rowling's A Casual Vacancy for 99p when it was "book of the day" or some such thing. Now, I'm a student. I don't have a full time job and I don't have much money. I often can't afford to pay £7.99 or more for a book, especially when there's so many books I want to own. So why wouldn't I love buying my books for so cheap? I bought the entire The Hunger Games trilogy (separately, not the 'trilogy' edition they offer) on Kindle for the same price as The Hunger Games (just the first book) in paperback. (Also, The Fault in our Stars, one of the "hottest" books right now was only 99p. Bargain!)

3) It stores LOADS. I think mine can store 3000 (or somewhere in that region) books. 3000. I'm pretty sure the newer versions can store even more. Do you guys know how much space, how many bookshelves, would be needed to have 3000 books in my room? My room is full (like, stacked floor to ceiling type full) with books and I don't think I have anywhere near 3000 in there. It's bursting at the seams and I have hundreds more I want to buy and read. On the other hand, my Kindle is lighter and smaller than one book and has so much space left on it. I have around 150 books (not including hundreds of samples) on it so far so...plenty of space left!

4) Samples! You can request samples of books on a Kindle. Now I use this, not to see if I like the book, but to store all the books I want to buy in the future but maybe don't have enough money to get now. I put all my samples in a folder, and it keeps them all together and out of the way until I can buy them. I find this so useful - kind of like a book list but not using bits of paper or word documents that might end up getting lost. All of them are together, just waiting for me to choose them.

5) Folders! A really useful tool, like the samples. You can make folders on a Kindle, and then add books to each folder. For instance, I have a folder for samples, another folder for classics, and then folders for every separate series/author/genre/whatever. No more searching in vain for a particular book! This device makes it so easy to find a particular book, series or author.

These are just the main things that I think makes the Kindle an amazing invention. Of course, there are other brilliant points to make, and if anyone thinks of any other good points, please pop them in the comments below. Now, I'll put a few of the common cons/"complaints" I hear about the Kindle.


1) It's not the same. Even I agree, nothing can replace the thrill of turning pages, of holding a proper books in your hands, feeling the weight, holding it on your knees. I do love books and, if I'm being honest, I do prefer proper books to the Kindle. However, I think the story is far more important than the format - as long as I'm reading the words then I'm reading the story, and that's really all that matters, isn't it?

2) You have to charge it. The Kindle battery lasts for ages...IF you turn the wifi off when you're not downloading books. If you leave wifi on, the battery fades faster than the speed of light (well...maybe not quite, but you know what I mean). It only takes a couple of hours to charge but, if you're like me and forget to take the wifi off and then forget to charge the Kindle until it's practically dead, it can be a bit frustrating to have to leave it alone for hours, especially if you're in the middle of a really good book!

3) You can't really take notes. Although you can highlight and makes notes on sections, if you need to take notes (like for classes or something), it doesn't really work as well on the Kindle as in a proper book. There's no pretty colours or post-it note types things to find your highlighted sections quickly. Although that doesn't bother me (I've never taken notes for any of the books on my Kindle), if you're the sort that needs (or just likes to) make notes and stick them on your books, maybe the Kindle isn't as good as a proper book for you.

So there we go! I love my Kindle, and I know many people who do too. Don't get me wrong, I still love hunting for and buying physical books, but I do love the Kindle too. This is just my list, and I'm sure you guys can think of loads of other pros and cons to add. If anyone has a Kindle, or would never get one, please put your reasons in the comments and we can all discuss! Until next time bookworms... 

Friday, 10 January 2014

Year of the Blog...My Bookish Resolutions

So this year, I decided I should make some New Year's Resolutions. I want to share my passion for reading and writing with the world, which is why number 1 on my list of resolutions is:

1) Start a blog. Done! I feel I'm off to a good start. This blog will be about books, plain and simple. The books I read, the books I want to read and what I think of them. This isn't a review blog, rather me chatting to myself (and, hopefully, others!) about what I liked and didn't like about all the (many) books I read. I will also occasionally post my writing on here as well (I write original fiction and fan-fiction), and also possibly book-inspired art and other things I love or find interesting.

2) Post regularly on the blog. I think I attempted to start a blog once before, but didn't post after about a month. For this blog, I want to post at least twice a week, hopefully forever!

3) Continue reading, even if it seems like there's no time. I'm currently studying for my A-Levels, and in September I'll be starting university. It'll be a busy year, but I want to remind myself that reading brings me joy and calms me down, and I need that more than ever in this stressful year. I want to read more this year than I did last year.

4) Write more. I love writing, but often feel that there's no time for it. Writing gets pushed aside in favour of other (probably more important) things. I want to start writing more of my original fiction (I have plans for two novels which I hope to get off the ground soon), and also more fan-fiction (be it one shots or longer pieces) to get the old creative juices flowing!

So those are my bookish resolutions. Let's see if I stick to them this year! I also have a few non-book related resolutions too:

5) Get fit and healthy. I want to get toned up a bit, and a bit healthier, for when I go to uni this year.

6) Start practising French and German again. I have GCSEs in both but since starting A-Levels I haven't really kept them up. I'd love to go to both countries sometime soon, so I hope to start my languages back up again.

7) Revise for at least an hour every day. I'm a sucker for procrastination, but I need to start focusing this year if I want to get the grades I need.

And that's it! You may sometimes see rants or healthy recipes and stuff on here to mix it up a bit, but the blog will be primarily to do with books (and possibly film/TV reviews). I hope you like it and keep reading, commenting and let's be friends!