Saturday, May 27, 2017 13:57

Erin Summerill – Ever the Hunted.

Title: Ever the Hunted.
Author: Erin Summerill.
Pages: 392.
PublishedDecember 27th 2016 by HMH Books for Young Readers.
Source: Publisher on Netgalley, thanks!
Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer. However, it’s not so simple. The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.
Ever the Hunted is a story with potential that let me down, because it didn't manage to be something special. There are many cliches that don't have to be problems, but I couldn't overlook them in this book. The writing itself was good and the reason I decided to finish this book instead of DNF-ing it. It's fast and easy, but the true problem is the plot.

There is nothing wrong with a basic plot; it only starts to form a problem when the author truly keeps it basic. The story fails to deliver something more. The characters are only so-so, the plot is predictable and the pacing is on the slow side. It all felt flat and uninspired to me.

Britta's father, the official Bounty Hunter of the King, has been murdered and her best childhood friend is the suspect. When Britta is caught poaching she has two choices: die or join the hunt for Cohen. If she finds him, she will get her freedom back. On her way Britta discovers clues that make her aware Cohen is around; and eventually they meet and run away together. Cohen vows he didn't kill her father and it is up to them to discover the truth.

Britta and Cohen are both unmemorable characters. In the beginning I imagined her to be a little like Meria from Brave, but that really isn't the case. She is great at tracking and she knows her way with the bow. Her father has taught her many things, but most of the times she seemed clueless. There was nothing special about her and she had a slight damsel in distress syndrome. She faints and cries a lot. While I don't object to anyone displaying these emotions (because no, crying doesn't make you look weak), Britta doesn't seem to be able to pick herself up without having a guy around. She is always second-guessing herself and needs a lot of affirmations from the people around her.

Cohen also lacks traits that make him stand out. He is the typical boy-next-door, so I didn't give a crap about their plain romance. I always like the friends-who-turn-into-lover-trope (although I prefer sarcastic/hate-to-love romance), but not if both characters bore me to death. There was also too much emphasis on their growing feelings.

The ending sort of made up for it, but the overall story wasn't enough to make me want to pick up the sequel.
“Bravery is a choice that is yours to make. Don't let fear steal your will.” 
Wednesday, May 17, 2017 21:01

Audio book Adventures | Discovering Storytel.

I have tried to listen to audio books in the past, but for some reason it never managed to grab my attention. This was before I found out that I can listen, and enjoy, audio books on my way to work. Sitting in the bus with an audio book is the best thing ever! I still can't concentrate on audio books when I do something, but the bus ride is so much more fun now. 

This month I discovered Storytel and since it offers a 14-day free trial, I decided to give it a shot. I can already tell you that I've paid for my first month now. It is basically a Netflix service for audio books. For €9.99 a month you can listen to as many audio books as you want. You don't buy them, so when your cancel your subscription you'll not be able to listen to your previous audio books. I think this is a great deal. Also: I'm not sponsored by Storytel. They don't even know who I am. 

You can use the website if you don't want to use your phone, but it is easy to navigate around the app. This is your start screen. It features the book you are currently listening to on top.

76dc8466da5ab2585d813341a127b9afAanbevelingen = recommendations. Popular titles.
Series = I believe these are Podcasts. I haven't tried out this function yet.

Categorieën = categories. They offer a wide range of books; both Dutch and English, which is perfect for me!There are 17 different categories, ranging from YA, erotica and thrillers to biographies and personal development.

Zoek = search options. You can search on book titles, authors and even narrators. You can also

Je boekenplank = Your bookshelf. Here you can store all the books you are interested in. Simply click on a title and a small menu opens that allows you to place the book on your shelf. You can also mark it as 'listened to', download it so you are able to listen to it offline, rate it and share it (E-mail, Twitter, Whatsapp, Pinterest and Snapchat are some of the available options)

Instellingen = settings. Here you can see your next pay day, add your Facebook account, Filter results and see all the offline books you've stored on your account.




I scrolled through the categories and decided I wanted to check out 'Fantasy and SciFi'. This opens a screen that starts with the Dutch audio books and then you have the English section, divided into 'New, Popular and Our Favorites'.
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I've already added some books I'm interested in on my bookshelf, picture on the left. You can use filters to make navigation easy.

On the right is the screen once you've selected a book. There is a Night mode, where you can set a timer from 5 minutes to 60 minutes. There is the ability to add bookmarks. The cloud is the download option, so you can listen offline, and the last is your speed setting: 1x, 1.25x, 1.5x, 1.75x and 2x. The three dots in the right corner give you an extra menu, like 'show book details' where you can also get recommendations for similar books. The three stripes on the left give you the start screen I showed you earlier.
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I'm a fan! I never thought I would fall in love with audio books, but I discovered it is all about timing (as in: simply sitting down and not doing anything else, so I can focus on the book) and voice (I've finished Ready Player One narrated by Wil Wheaton and it was fabulous!) And not to forget the fact that this app makes it so easy to try out different audio books, without having to pay a lot of money.

Recap:
-14 day free trial.
-Then €9.99 every month. You can cancel whenever you want.
-Listen to all the audio books you want.
-Wide offer of Dutch and English books in different categories.
-Easy navigation in the app.

Sunday, May 07, 2017 20:21

C.J Redwine – The Wish Granter.

Title: The Wish Granter.
Author: C.J Redwine.
Pages: 432.
PublishedFebruary 14th 2017 by Balzer + Bray.
Source: Publisher on Edelweiss, thanks!

The world has turned upside down for Thad and Ari Glavan, the bastard twins of Súndraille’s king. Their mother was murdered. The royal family died mysteriously. And now Thad sits on the throne of a kingdom whose streets are suddenly overrun with violence he can’t stop. Growing up ignored by the nobility, Ari never wanted to be a proper princess. And when Thad suddenly starts training Ari to take his place, she realizes that her brother’s ascension to the throne wasn’t fate. It was the work of a Wish Granter named Alistair Teague who tricked Thad into wishing away both the safety of his people and his soul in exchange for the crown. So Ari recruits the help of Thad’s enigmatic new weapons master, Sebastian Vaughn, to teach her how to fight Teague. With secret ties to Teague’s criminal empire, Sebastian might just hold the key to discovering Alistair’s weaknesses, saving Ari’s brother—and herself. But Teague is ruthless and more than ready to destroy anyone who dares stand in his way—and now he has his sights set on the princess. And if Ari can’t outwit him, she’ll lose Sebastian, her brother…and her soul.

I fell in love with The Shadow Queen – and hereby I declare it as one of my favorite retelling of Snow White – so I was extremely excited about The Wish Granter. This book is part of the series, but they have separate stories. While I didn't fall in love with it as much as I did with The Shadow Queen, I think it is a fantastic retelling of Rumpelstiltskin.

Alister Teague is cursed and he uses all his wit to break free. If you come across him and you make a deal with him, it means you are screwed. Alister is a foul player and that is how he manages to use Thad's desperation against him. He forces the boy into becoming King and in return, Alister will keep Thad's sister Ari save from their murderous family. Ari isn't happy with this change of life and together with Sebastian, she tries to come up with a plan to get rid of Alister.

Ari is feisty and intelligent. She knows something is up with Thad and the mysterious Teague and she's not going to wait to see what is going to happen. Instead, she is doing her own research and this leads her in the arms of Sebastian, the new blacksmith with a story of his own. Piece by piece Ari finds out what has transpired between Thad and Teague and what this will mean in the future. Her plan to release Thad is dangerous and shows her loyalty for her family. I adored the fierce love between her and her brother. It was nice to finally have another book with a healthy brother-sister relationship. It was my favorite aspect of the story.

Thad and Sebastian are both solid character. Neither of them are really memorable on their own, but I liked their role in the plot. The blossoming romance between Sebastian and Ari was adorable. It's not one of those I SHIP THIS HARDCORE ship, but I liked their chemistry and how supportive they were.

The plot is fast-paced and the writing-style is so smooth and easy to read. This is the type of book you could read in one sitting. I still liked The Shadow Queen more, but I can't wait to see what more stories Redwine is going to write in this world.

"Sometimes having courage means the hardest tasks fall onto your shoulders."
Monday, May 01, 2017 13:14

Bout of Books 19 | Sign-up & progress post.

Bout of Books
Yesterday I realized I have participated in 7 editions of Bout of Books already, so I also signed up to be an Expert. This means you really commit to spread some love on accounts of participants. I always enjoy hopping around, but I haven't felt really like it lately, so I hope this will give me some extra motivation. Let's see if I can make it on the team.

Edit May 2nd: accepted!



I will be away for the weekend though and I will mostly participate through Twitter, but I still wanted to make an official blog post where I can keep track of my progress. My aim is to read 3 to 4 books, but my main goal is to simply read as much as I can/want.
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 8th and runs through Sunday, May 14th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 19 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team.
Schedule:
Monday 5/8:
Introduce yourself #insixwords
Tuesday 5/9: Not a Font
Wednesday 5/10: Share Your Shelfie!
Thursday 5/11: Character Dating Profile
Friday 5/12: Book Spine Rainbow
Saturday 5/13: Seasons of Books
Sunday 5/14: FREE DAY!

Twitter Chats

(chats last approximately one hour)
TZC = Time Zone Conversion
Monday: 8pm CST (TZC)
Saturday: 10am CST (TZC)
MONDAY.
-Pages read:
-Started my re-read of A Court of Mist and Fury. Read 13 pages.
-Listened 1 hour to my audio book of Ready Player One.
-Achievements: I replied to some tweets on the #boutofbooks hash tag.
-Challenge: Me in Six words tweet.

TUESDAY.
-Pages read:
-Listened to 1 hour of my audio book.
-Achievements: Replied to some tweets. Commented on 20-something blogs.
-Challenge: This time we had to pick a book cover where illustrations are part of the typography. I found many covers, but this one caught my eye right away:


WEDNESDAY.
-Pages read:
-Listened to another hour of my audio book.
-Read 30 pages in Wicked like Wildfire.
-Read 55 pages in A Court of Mist and Fury.
-Achievements: Commented on 10 blogs. Replied to some tweets.

THURSDAY.
-Pages read:
-Listened to another hour of my audio book. 2 hours and 47 minutes left.
-Read X pages in A Court of Mist and Fury.
-Read 10 pages in Wicked like Wildfire (not enjoying this one..)
-Achievements: Commented on 20 blogs. Replied to some tweets.
-ChallengeCharacter dating profile for Kaz.

FRIDAY.
-Pages read:
-Finished The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson, about.. 150 pages?
-Total number of books read: 1.

SATURDAY.
-Pages read:
-Finished Spindle Fire by Lexi Hillyer, 351 pages.
-Total number of books read: 2.


SUNDAY.
-Pages read: 0
-Total number of books read: 2.

Sunday, April 30, 2017 18:30

Monthly Recap April '17 | Birthday, YALFEST and book club sleep-over.

Monthly-recap_thumb6This post recaps my month: my personal life, all the books I’ve read & bought and all the movies and TV shows I’ve seen.
April is always one of my favorite months, despite the funky weather. It was definitely a great month! I've done so many fun things; which meant I had less time to read, as you can see..

OUAT_thumb3 I went to Beauty and the Beast in the cinema twice. Once was in IMAX 3D and what an experience! You can see my thoughts about the movie in my review, but in one word: MAGICAL. I definitely shed a few happy tears and the songs are on repeat. The first time I went with friends, the second time with my family and we combined it with going out for diner. Talking about food, hehe, I went with my boyfriend, sister and brother in law to a Dim Sum restaurant. Delicious!

I participated in something we call 'Duinenmars' which is a yearly event where you can walk different distances and get a medal or a new pin. Every medal holds 3 pins. This was my 5th time, so I got a new medal. We had amazing weather; it was incredibly sunny and warm. I've also picked up running (again), but this time I see myself improve and that is motivating.

cake
I celebrated my birthday (26 years already, eek!) I had a lot of healthy snacks, I got a beautiful birthday cake made by my talented sister and I got really thoughtful presents. I felt loved :)

I had two fun bookish events. I went to YALFEST with a girlfriend, which is a pretty new book event hosted by different Dutch publishers. It was great! There were eight authors (Amy Ewin, David Arnold, Lesley Livingston, Megan Shepherd, Donna Freitas, Veronica Rossi and Victor Dixen) who were interviewed and then we got time to get our books signed + a picture. I had a workshop about translating books from English to Dutch and there were different stands with activities, like making your own buttons or getting a temporary bookish tattoo. I'm definitely going again next year.

The other event was our book club sleep-over, which is actually for the Dewey 24-hour read-a-thon, but lately ends up as a day/night where we watch really (and I mean REALLY) bad book adaptations. This time we picked Fallen and The Fifth Wave. I think we were all pleasantly surprised by The Fifth Wave, but maybe it is because you can't get anything worse than Fallen. This movie is by far one of the worst movie I've ever seen. Every scene takes 100 hours and is filled with cringe-worthy sentences, broody looks in the distance, swoony staring in each other eyes and terrible special effects. It was hilarious. Hanging out with these girls is the best.
bookhaul_thumb2
Click on the pictures to go to Goodreads.

Ebooks:
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Presents:
Shanice, Brother-in law and girlfriend, Jasper & Daisy.
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NotebookIMG_2040
Leatherbound hand-made notebook I got from my parents from Scotland.
Harry Potter deluxe notebook set I got from Debby <3

Review copies:
Thanks HarperCollins INT!
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YALFEST, Fairyloot, BooklyBird.
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Bought.
Also Meagan Spooner - Hunted.
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Read_thumb5
This is a sad score.. but that's what you get when you are busy with fun real-life things and other hobbies. I've spend a lot of time on gaming (got hooked in Zelda again) and bulletjournaling (setting up May, I love the start of a new month)

1. Erin Summerill – Ever the Hunted. 2/5.
2. Samantha Shannon – The Mime Order. 5/5 (reread)
3. Neil Gaiman – Hansel and Gretel. 3/5.
4. Samantha Shannon – THe Pale Dreamer. 3/5 (novella)
5. Samantha Shannon – On the Merits of Unnaturalness. 4/5 (novella)
Watched_thumb5
TV Shows:
The Blacklist season 2, episode 1 - 13. Still enjoy it.
New girl season 6, episode 11-14.
Outlander season 1, episode 16. That was.. intense. Also watched episode 1 + 2 from season 2.
Better Call Saul, season 2, episode 1 – 3.

Movies:
2x Beauty and the Beast. LOOOVE.
Animated version from Beauty and the Beast. Favorite forever.
Logan. Cried.
Moana. Really liked it.
Assassin's Creed. Meh.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, second time. Made my father watch it.
Fallen. DON'T WATCH IT.
The Fifth Wave. Not nearly as bad as expected. Way better than the book, that's for sure.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. It's bad, but also kinda funny.
Inferno. That was.. intense, at times.

What did you do in April?
Friday, April 21, 2017 21:52

Beauty and the Beast retellings.

Since I'm on a roll with content that has something to do with Beauty and the Beast, I decided to list down my five favorite retellings for you. These are the books I've read over a couple of years, so believe me when I say these come highly recommended.

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Whistling Tor is a place of secrets and mystery. Surrounded by a wooded hill, and unknown presences, the crumbling fortress is owned by a chieftain whose name is spoken throughout the district in tones of revulsion and bitterness. A curse lies over Anluan's family and his people; those woods hold a perilous force whose every whisper threatens doom.
If you know me well, this first pick will be no surprise. I always use every opportunity to show my love for Juliet Marillier. There is something enchanting and magical about the way she writes stories. Her heroins are all strong in their own ways, the romances are so romantic and the plot moves with exactly the right pace. If you haven't picked up any of her books, you are missing out. My review for Heart's Blood.

“With courage and hope, we can conquer our fears and do what we once believed impossible.”

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Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him. With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

I read this book in 2014 and I still can't stop thinking about it. It is definitely time to reread this stunning book. The writing-style is lush, the blend of mythology and fairytales is intricate and the characters are flawed and fascinating. My review for Cruel Beauty.

“Where you go, I shall go; where you die, I shall die, and there will I be buried.”

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Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.
This story is a perfect blend of several folktales and Beauty and the Beast. I fell in love with the writing-style, plot and characters. The plot is interesting and has a rather creepy setting. There is a wonderful girl-girl friendship and Agnieszka was delightful. My review for Uprooted.

“There was a song in this forest, too, but it was a savage song, whispering of madness and tearing and rage.”

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Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them. Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

This is the newest Beauty and the Beast retelling I discovered last month and let me tell you this, it was simply the best!  Yeva was fabulous and it didn't take me much time to fall in love with her personality and voice. There is much development into the character of Beast and there was enough time to warm up for the romance. My review for Hunted.

“She wept because she did not know what she wanted, and because she wanted everything.”

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16096824When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.
I have read a few reviews that talk about the problematic issues in this book and I will not deny that there are definitely aspects that could have been better. That being said, it's still a really entertaining, well-written story and I love Feyre. My review for A Court of Thorns and Roses.

“Don't feel bad for one moment about doing what brings you joy.”
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