Monday, March 2, 2015

February reading wrap up

Somehow, it's March already. WHAT IS HAPPENING. WHAT. IS. HAPPENIIIIIIIIIING?!?!?!?! *deep breath* Okay. I'm okay. February's over, so it's time to tell y'all what I read during the past month!

Books read: 31. I swear, I have literally no idea how that happened...
New vs rereads: 16 vs 15. That's a huge improvement towards equal numbers over last month!
Most read genre: Contemporary took out first place with 8 books. Fantasy was in second place with six.
Favourite book: My highest rated book this month was North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. But considering that's a reread it feels like cheating. So as far as new books go, I think it was a tie between Ellie Marney's Every Move and I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios. They were both fabulous.
Least favourite book: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith. This one was a reread, so I should have been prepared for it. And yet...
Favourite cover: I'll Meet You There. The cover was pretty perfect.

Diverse Books Project: I've ploughed through all the stuff I'd planned out, so from here on in, things may get a little trickier. I've still got a bunch of books to pick from, and there's a few coming out in April that I'm pretty excited about reading. But at the moment, I'm stuck in not-super-excited-about-this-book land. Which is sad.

On the plus side, I finally worked out how to do custom thumbnails, so that's pretty damned exciting!

February's tallies weren't much different to January's. I read 2 graphic novels, 2 non-fiction books, and 26 novels. There are links to my Goodreads reviews below!

North and South
5 star books: North and South - Elizabeth Gaskell

I'll Meet You ThereEvery Move
4.5 star books: I'll Meet You There - Heather Demetrios || Every Move - Ellie Marney

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your AssGood OmensCasino Infernale: A Secret Histories NovelThis Shattered World: 2 (The Starbound Trilogy)Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson MandelaWe'll Always Have Parrots (Meg Langslow, #5)Siege and Storm (The Grisha, #2)Sloppy Firsts (Jessica Darling, #1)Second Helpings (Jessica Darling, #2)The Last Time We Say GoodbyeFeet of Clay (Discworld, #19)Frostbitten (Women of the Otherworld, #10)Case Histories
4 star books: Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass - Meg Medina || Good Omens - Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman || Casino Infernale - Simon R. Green || This Shattered World - Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner || Long Walk to Freedom - Nelson Mandela || We'll Always Have Parrots - Donna Andrews || Seige and Storm - Leigh Bardugo || Sloppy Firsts - Megan McCafferty || Second Helpings - Megan McCafferty || The Last Time We Say Goodbye - Cynthia Hand || Feet of Clay - Terry Pratchett || Frostbitten - Kelley Armstrong || Case Histories - Kate Atkinson

Exit Strategy (Nadia Stafford, #1)Swords of Haven: The Adventures of Hawk and Fisher (Hawk and Fisher, #1-3)A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)Altar Of EdenSpice: The History of a Temptation
3.5 stars: Exit Strategy - Kelley Armstrong || Swords of Haven - Simon R. Green || A Court of Thorns and Roses - Sarah J. Maas || Altar of Eden - James Rollins || Spice: The History of a Temptation - Jack Turner

Buffy the Vampire Slayer:  Time of Your Life (Season 8, #4)Red QueenFull House (Full Series, #1)Club Dead (Sookie Stackhouse, #3)Serenity: Those Left Behind (Serenity, #1)Thai-Riffic!  Charmed Thirds (Jessica Darling, #3)All the Bright Places
3 star books: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Time of Your Life - Joss Whedon || Red Queen - Victoria Aveyard || Full House - Janet Evanovich and Charlotte Hughes || Club Dead - Charlaine Harris || Serenity: Those Left Behind - Joss Whedon || Thai-Riffic! - Oliver Phommavanh || Charmed Thirds - Megan McCafferty || All the Bright Places - Jennifer Niven

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the DreadfulsRiptide
2.5 star books: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls - Steve Hockensmith || Riptide - Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

I have to say, I'm a little impressed that I haven't rated a single thing under 2 stars so far this year. I don't know if this means I'm making better book choices or if I"m just less critical than I was last year...

What did you read in February?

K xx

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

TTT - Favourite Heroines

Another Tuesday already? Must be time to talk about books and link up with the Broke and the Bookish!

Today we're talking about our favourite fictional heroines, and sweet baby Jesus, this list could have been about 15 pages long given the chance. But I've managed to limit myself to ten. 

I think there's a tendency when the word "heroine" crops up to think of female characters who kick ass. The ones from fantasy books who wield swords and have magical powers and whatnot. But that's not necessarily what makes a heroine. According to Google, the dictionary definition is "a woman admired for her courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities". This list is going to be a mix of the two. 

1. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling)
There are literally no words for how much I love Hermione Granger. Sure, she's a pretty flawed character at times, but that's part of what makes her so damned fabulous. And she's 100% a heroine. Who else would set a teacher on fire at the age of eleven and create an entire social justice movement at the age of 14?? 

2. Celaena Sardothian (Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas)
The Queen of Badassery and Awesomeness. She's had so much character development over the course of the first three books, and I can't WAIT to see where her story goes in the remaining books. 

3. Fair Finley (Wilfair series, Alysia Gray Painter)
Oh, my dear sweet Fair. She grows up so much and undergoes such an astonishingly fabulous amount of character development over the course of the four books, and it's absolutely magical. 

4. Anne Elliot (Persuasion, Jane Austen)
Anne's the dark horse of Austen heroines. She's quiet and tends to just sit back and do what her family demands of her. But that doesn't mean she's willing to give up her chance at happiness. 

5. Rachel Watts (Every trilogy, Ellie Marney)
Rachel, Rachel, Rachel. I just want to squish you. Sure, sometimes she make really terrible decisions about when to make out with her boyfriend, but whatever. She's been through a lot in the course of the first two books (Every Move is due to arrive on my Kindle tomorrow and I AM DYING TO READ IT), and yet she never gives up, she stops fighting for herself and for Mycroft. 

6. Verity (Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein)
There's not much I can say about Code Name Verity without ruining the story. Just know that Verity is one HELL of a heroine. Her bravery is astonishing, and her story gives me all the feels. 

7. Alexia Tarabotti (The Parasol Protectorate series, Gail Carriger)
Alexia has no time for anybody's nonsense. She's sassy and eyerolls her way through being kidnapped. She uses her powers to her advantage and fights hard for what she cares about. You know, while openly judging her best friend for her terrible taste in hats. 

8. Ellie Linton (Tomorrow series, John Marsden)
I've said several times recently that Rachel Watts reminds me a lot of Ellie Linton. They're both Aussie country girls who don't give up when things get tough. Ellie's been one of my favourite heroines since 1995, and I don't see that changing any time soon. 

9. Kate Daniels (Kate Daniels series, Ilona Andrews)
Kate is queen of the badasses. She's pretty fearless, and she fights with a sabre that eats undead flesh. She'd fight to the death for those she loves, and she's fabulously sassy. 

10. Tiffany Aching (Tiffany Aching series, Terry Pratchett)
Tiffany is probably that kid that teachers hate, because she never stops questioning things. She's a pretty flawed character at times - she complains about the standard tasks that come with being a witch, she jumps into things without thinking, and she a typical teenage girl in a lot of ways. But she also never gives up to protect her community, even when it means putting her own life in danger. 

Who's on your list?

K xx

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Back to witches and wizards and magical beasts

Previously: Sara and I went to Stonehenge and Bath, and had an incredibly nutritious lunch of scones and chips. 

Warning: this post is reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally photo-heavy. But it's worth it. Trust me.

The day after we went to Bath somehow turned into a nothing day. We both woke up late, and decided that we should finish watching North and South before we did anything else. Eventually, we figured that we should do SOMETHING besides sit on the sofa all day, so we drove into town and had a late lunch before wandering around the shops for a while. I'd been planning on getting a new between-seasons coat while I was in England, so technically we were on the look out for that. Me being me, I came home with a pair of raspberry patent heels. FAR more important than a stupid coat!
I mean, seriously. 
We headed home via the supermarket to procure pizza and cider, and had dinner in front of Doctor Who before spending the night watching Prisoner of Azkaban. It was low key and relaxing and fabulous to not be running around all over the place for a change.

The next morning, we were up bright and early and on the road before 10am. Frankly, I'd been excited about our final destination for this particular day since about JULY, and it didn't disappoint. We started off with a trip to Windsor, because if we were going to spend all that damned time on the M25, you can bet your arse we were going to break up the trip.

Parking was a monumental bitch, as you can imagine if you've ever been to Windsor, but finally we found a parking spot and headed into the castle. After parting with a small fortune, we headed inside. And honestly? The public areas were a lot smaller than I remembered them being when I was a kid. It didn't help that the chapel was closed because it was Sunday, but I remember there being far more to see and do than just the state rooms and Queen Mary's doll house. *shrugs*

I'd also forgotten about the almost-constant low flying planes en route to land at Heathrow, which must be nice and relaxing for the queen!!

Once we'd exhausted the possibilities at the castle and decided that we didn't need a stuffed toy corgi from the gift shop, we wandered back into town for a spot of lunch before stopping at a supermarket to procure some snacks. Then we hit the road and basically flailed our way up the M25 to our final destination: The Harry Potter studio tour.




I mean, I thought I'd died and gone to Heaven when I went to Wizarding World of Harry Potter. And sure, this didn't have awesome rides. But it WAS non-stop amazingness from basically the moment we walked in the door. The very first thing you see (besides giant photos of the cast, and half a Ford Anglia coming out of the wall) is the Cupboard Under the Stairs.

From there, they show you a short film, and then you head into the Great Hall. If you're planning on going, I'd highly recommend going on your birthday, because of reasons.

I could happily have stayed in the Great Hall for another 20 minutes or so because it's so amazingly detailed, but there was tons more to see.

The first half of the tour is smaller sets, like the Gryffindor Common Room and Dumbledore's office, lots of costumes, and a ton of fun props, like the Horcruxes, Hermione's Timeturner, quidditch supplies, and the Triwizard Cup.
DanRad is tiny. Seriously. 

It took us at least an hour to get through it all, and it was marvellous. It's astonishing how much detail was created for props that get a couple of seconds of screen time.

Then you head outside to some of the exterior sets - Number 4 Privet Drive, the bridge at Hogwarts, and the Potter's cottage from Godric's Hollow. There's also the Knight Bus, which is pretty fabulous, and some more of the big chess pieces.

You can also get butter beer, which is pretty delicious in small quantities but is quite likely to make you feel sick if you drink more than a few sips.

The second half of the tour is all about the animatronics and the models that they used, and it's pretty damned fascinating.

From there, you get to walk up Diagon Alley, which felt oddly like returning to Wizarding World of Harry Potter (even though when I was there, it was only Hogsmeade...):

And then it was onto the last major stop, which was my absolute favourite - the scale model of Hogwarts that they used for all the exterior shots. It's absolutely ENORMOUS.
See those people over there on the right? Yeah. ENORMOUS. 
I could happily have stood there staring at it all day, because it's utterly astonishing. The lighting slowly changes from day to night, and all the lights in the castle come on.

How could we not take a terrible selfie?! 
Eventually, we dragged ourselves away from the magnificence that is Hogwarts and headed towards the gift shop. The last room you pass through is filled with wand boxes. There are over two thousand of them, and they bear the names of all the cast and crew, which is pretty fabulous.

Hell, even the gift shop was magical. I spent rather more than I'd planned, but came out with a Ravenclaw t-shirt for myself, and a wand for Little Miss A (Totally worth it).

Eventually, our wallets rather lighter than planned, we headed back to the car and drove back to Portsmouth. We wandered down the road to the pub for dinner, and spent the rest of the night watching Goblet of Fire. Because really, what else would we do after such a Potter-tastic day?!

Next time, we acquire a couple of small children and head to the zoo. 

K xx
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