End of the year: Favourite books of 2018

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” 

― Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood
IG: @ jane_kelsey

It’s that time of the year again, which means another yearly wrap-up. I really like doing these as it gives me the chance to look back on my reading year and reflect on what I’ve read.

This year I was really surprised that half of these books are actually adult rather than YA novels.

I am not going to go very deep into each of these as we will be here all day so I will do a quick summary of why I loved it and why I think you should read it!

So without further ado, the list… top 10 from 150!

Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer – this was probably the weirdest book I have ever read in my life! I picked this up after watching (and actually enjoying the movie) Annihilation, although books vs movie = different things. In this book, we follow an all-female expedition team into Area X and the weird things that happen once they cross the border. It was beautifully written (it completely enthralled me), I loved the character development, the world building, and the concept. Solid book. [I also loved the sequel, recommended although very slow paced to start]

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence – OMG, where do I even start? Everything you want in a fantasy novel, this novel (and series as a whole) has it! Thank you Netgalley for that Grey sister ARC as it “forced” me to pick the first book up and now Mark Lawrence is by far one of my favorite authors. The sequel, Grey Sister, is even better so grab your card and order yourself some copies! Hell, get your friends on it as well! Beware of blood, gore and killer nuns! Also, he just published a short story in this world called Bound.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – Ok, so I didn’t understand all of the references, but I still loved this book. It was fun, nostalgic and hard to put down. I am a gamer at heart and this hit all the right notes with me.

Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews – I picked this one up from the supermarket because the movie was coming out and it looked cool. Did not have any expectations and it was quite slow paced to start, but OMG, this book is so worth it! I almost… ALMOST shed a tear (and I don’t cry because I’m a hard b*tch). Classic espionaje novel.

Gemina by Jay Kristoff & Amy Kaufman – I do not think I can express in words the level of awesomeness of this book. IT BLEW MY MIND! It was a pure unadulterated pleasure to read this. Best book of the series for me.

A court of Mist and Fury & A court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas – I’ve chosen both of these although these are part of a series, because of their awesomeness. I cannot believe that I only got to read them this year, but I am glad I had. If you haven’t, please do read these. ACOTAR, the first one, is the weaker of the two, but there’s a reason why.

Warcross by Marie Lu – I loved the premise of this novel, but when the romance started to bloom, I fell truly in love. I have not read a novel to carry me through the anxiety of a new love in a very long time and I absolutely devoured this book. That ending literally destroyed it and needless to say, I read the sequel as soon as it came out – it was good, but not as good as the first one.

The Poppy War by R.F.Kuang – Where do I even start?! This book blew me apart from the first sentence to that last. You know when you read a book and you know that every word, every character, every breath was meant to be on that page for your joy and it has a meaning?! Well, this is one of those books that for me it reached PERFECTION. The Dragon Republic comes out in 2019 and it’s £20 and I just don’t care, I need it. Like NOW.

The seven deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton – Thank you Jot Davies for beautifully narrating this novel because otherwise, hell knows when I would have discovered the beautiful craftsmanship of this world. Stuart Turton, who has gone offline to write another book for 2019, gave the world an amazing book, with great characters and an interesting plot line. What I also like about Stuart’s approach is that he is not afraid to try something new, to surprise the reader, to play with you. Who cares about the destination when the journey is written by Stu and narrated by Jot Davies?

These are my top 10 favorite novels I’ve read in 2018. What are your favorites? Have you read any of these? Any recommendations? Please leave your comments down below, I’d love to hear your thoughts.



#bookmail: The Winters by Lisa Gabrielle – a Rebecca inspired novel.

Oh my gosh you guys, I am so excited to talk to you about The winters, a novel by Lisa Gabrielle inspired by the classic and well-known novel Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier.

I am a huge fan of the novel Rebecca and when I heard of The winters almost a month200.gif ago, I was ecstatic! But when Penguin reached out and asked me if I would like a copy, I kind of died and went to heaven because I wanted to read it soooooo badly!!

The Winters is set to be released in the UK on the 15th of November 2018 by Harvill  Secker and I am hoping that I will have time to read it before then, but it is available for preorder on Amazon UK here. So far I’ve heard a lot of great things about it and I am super pumped up to read it. I will do a review of it as soon as I’ll finish reading it!

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‘A stylish, highly original and completely addictive take on du Maurier’s Rebecca. Read it!’ Shari Lapena – I am going to listen to her because I really enjoyed her novel A stranger in the house.

Do you like thrillers/psychological suspense novels? What’s your favourite? Are you excited for The winters?

Xoxo

Jane

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#T5W: Favorite Books Featuring… VAMPIRES

Hello Everyone! It’s been quite some time since I’ve done a Top 5 Wednesday or wrote anything besides a Book Review! I have so many books to review, sometimes it gets out of hand, so today I decided to write up sometimes a little bit more different.

The prompt is to write about about Favorite Books Featuring a creature of your preference and I chose for these vampires because 1) I love them 2) these are the books I’ve read the most about! But without further ado, the list:

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1 – Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. This book series is the first one I have read in English and probably also the first YA novel; I was 19 at the time. I have fond memories of my time reading Twilight and how it helped me grasp the English language when I was not comfortable with it and entertained me when I was stressing over Uni.

 

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2 – Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. This series is by far my favourite YA fantasy book series and vampire series. It features a great cast of characters and a storyline that gets progressively darker. I love the dynamics between the 4 main characters of the series and I do recommend it from all my heart!

 

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3 – The Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko. This series was recommended to me years ago by someone very close and I loved the series. I recently re-purchased the books and slowly building my collection until I have it complete and able to re-read. It has a great magical & wordbuilding system. It is an adult fantasy novel so something to bear in mind if you are used to reading YA.

 

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4 – The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. I recently read this first novel in a trilogy and it scared my pants off. I really enjoyed the suspenseful atmosphere and how the biology of it would have functioned in reality. I really enjoyed reading a different take on the vampire lore.

220px-Bram_Stoker's_Draula_(1992_film)5 – I couldn’t finish off this list without listing Dracula by Bram Stoker. This novel is probably the first one I’ve ever read as I used to read a lot of classics in high school and no YA. Do I really need to introduce this book? I feel like everyone knows about the classical Dracula! 51u-rJeGeXL

Honourable mention:
Salem’s lot by Stephen King. Another book that creeped me out so much I was afraid of the dark. Stephen King has a way with words and paints such a vivid scene it’s hard not to be scared.

 

Have you read any of these? Which are your top 5 books featuring vampires?

Xoxo
Jane

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Attention! Attention! Calling all #WARCROSS fans!

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Did all my shouting get your attention? Good, because you do not want to miss this!

I was late on the WARCROSS love bandwagon which is kind of fortunate because it meant only a few months of torture until WILDCARD. We are now over a little over a week from the release date and I found out, albeit a little late, that  all you gotta do is pre-order the book, register your details to receive a swag pack:

  • Warcross buttons
  • Wildcard Thank You postcard with a special message from Marie Lu herself
  • and the exclusive short story Life After Legend II.

All you have to do is submit proof of pre-order and you’ll receive this! That’s it!

Check the official preorder website here

***check the official website for the conditions.

Read 16 books in 30 days… A very late April wrap-up

Hello, fellow bookworms! Since the sun has been shining in good old England, I kept myself busy reading and writing on projects, so I’ve been neglecting you here for a little. I guess I also dreaded to do this wrap-up due to the sheer amount of books I’ve read in April. This also means that there’s a huge list of reviews that I need to write… *sigh*

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So without more faffing, the list of 16 books I read in April:

– I read a total of 16 books… including 2 audiobooks, 6 ebooks, and 8 physical copies.
– I read a total of 4909 pages.
– Average month rating: 4 🌟

5 Star books:

4-5 stars books:

3-4 stars books:

2-3 stars books:

Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think? Also, do you like to my wrap-ups like this, or would you like some brief thoughts on the books I’ve read as well?
xoxo
Jane
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#NewReleasePromo ~ A Bleak December by Hanleigh Bradley

downloadHello, fellow bookworms! Wanted to talk to you today about A bleak December which I am very excited to read. In between reading Fantasy and Sci-fi, I am a total sucker for reading romance because it has all the feels and removes me completely from this world. Lately, I’ve been reading a lot less romance because I have so many fantasies and sci-fi books that I want to get to read soon, however, I am really excited to read A Bleak December. Thank you Hanleigh for sending me a copy!
Genre: Contemporary Romance,
NA Romance
Release Date: 1st May 2018
Price: 99c / 99p
Length: Just below 20K
Availability: Amazon, iBooks, Barnes and Nobles, Kobo, etc.
 Amazon: http://amzn.to/2oTOGJg
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38943078-a-bleak-december

Blurb:

Her Christmas list isn’t long. It is the shortest it has ever been. She doesn’t want a pretty new pair of shoes or a new dress to wear to her work’s New Years Eve bash.

All Ella wants is a Christmas Miracle.

With a sick mum in hospital and a little brother at home, she struggles to maintain order in the chaos that is quickly engulfing her. If she doesn’t get her miracle will her entire world fall apart? And if it does, who will help her put it back together again?

Excerpt:

thumbnail_1He’s my boss. That doesn’t stop me though. It doesn’t stop my mind from picturing him naked standing in my shower, water cascading down over his toned, muscular flesh. No. It doesn’t stop my inappropriate thoughts, and it definitely doesn’t stop me having them at the most inopportune of moments. It’s not like I just think about him when I’m lying in bed late at night. No, I fantasise about him during staff meetings, when he’s being a pain in the arse bossing us all around and when he’s reprimanding me yet again for being late.

Do you want to know the worst bit? It’s not the thoughts. I can deal with my dirty mind; it’s always been that way. Dirty thought after dirty thought, wrapped in a world of dirty thoughts. No. The thoughts are fine; it’s the things that come out of my mouth. The actual words that I apparently have an equal lack of control over. Like right now, the whole room has gone silent in shock because of my stupid, big mouth. As if I just said that. I can feel my cheeks redden with embarrassment and my best work friend is laughing under her breath beside me. The bitch.

Tristen had asked me why I was late. It was a reasonable enough question but why, oh, why couldn’t I give him an equally sensible response??? No. Instead, I only went and gave him the most ridiculous cock and bull story known to man.

“Why are you late?” Tristan Riggens, my boss had asked in that deep, authoritative, yet almost disrespectfully uninterested voice of his. It’s a voice that threatens to destroy you while drawing you in, keeping you walking some imaginary tightrope.

“My dog ate a condom.” Why that sentence made it passed whatever filter I have, I will never know. Sometimes my mouth does unexplainable things, embarrassingly unexplainable. It’s a problem I’ve had since childhood and it shows no sign of improving.

The room goes silent, but he doesn’t react at all. His face remains expressionless except I think I can see humour in his eyes, or at least I hope I do. He’s not exactly easy to read and right now I really have no idea what he thinks. “Well, I hope your dog is okay now.”

“He’s absolutely fine.” I’m probably the colour of the Christmas tree in the corner. I think I might throw up my breakfast from the sheer embarrassment that I now feel.

“Someone should call the RSPCA.” A voice says from somewhere behind me.

“You might want to reconsider where you stash your condoms.” Another of my colleagues laughs.

My best friend, the one who’s supposed to be on my side is in fits of hysteria. In fact, she’s laughing so hard she’s close to choking. I hope she chokes.

“Okay.” Tristen tries to divert their focus from me and my condom eating dog, back to the meeting. “New Year – we’ll be having an office party.”

If he thinks talk of a party might divert their attention from my poor imaginary dog, he is wrong and he clearly doesn’t know his team that well. “How on earth did your dog get a hold of a condom?”

“Did it still have the foil wrapper on?”

“Eww, it wasn’t used, was it?”

I’m shrinking into myself. Massively embarrassed. Eyes on the floor. Cheeks burning hot. Head pounding. Heart palpitating. How the hell will I get out of this one? I have an uncanny knack for getting myself into a bit of a pickle and absolutely no skill at getting myself back out again. “That’s enough – I’ve heard more than enough about condoms and dogs for one day. Back to work.” He’s shaking his head as he dismisses us all before leaving the open offices of our floor of the TRW Advertising building. Walking into his office, he closes the door behind himself. Lucky sod. At least he has a door he can hide behind.

“Fuck.” I say under my breath.

“Only you Ella.” Sadie laughs beside me. “I don’t know how you do it.”

“I just open my mouth…” I sigh.

“You don’t even have a dog!”

“I know.” I’m groaning in mortification. “We should get back to work before Tristen gets all shitty.”

“Or worse,” Sadie whispers, “Delos might come out of her office and have at us.”

“As if – Clara’s too nice for that.”

“To you. She hates me.”

“That’s not true.” I laugh gently. The door to Tristen’s office opens once more, and he pops his head out. “Winthrope. Reed. Do I need to find you something to do?”

“No sir.” Sadie nods her head before turning back towards her cubicle.

I move to follow her, but Tristen is still talking. “Winthrope, in here please.”

“Shit.” I grumble before following him into his office. This is the moment when he finally tells me that enough is enough and I need to start being on time, or worse look for a new job. The new job scenario is probably more likely. My tardiness is my biggest failing. I’m lucky I haven’t already lost this job.

He’s sat behind his desk; calm and composed in a way I have never been. He motions a hand towards the leather chair in front of him, and I take it gratefully because my legs are like jelly. My mouth is practically glued shut because I can’t trust myself not to say something completely absurd. His eyebrow is raised. “Your dog ate a condom?”

“Yes.” My sister Tia says when you lie you have to own it.

“Have you taken him to the vets?”

“No. He… he just coughed it up.” I tell him, desperately hoping that he doesn’t see through my lies.

“You do need to make a better effort to be on time for work in the morning.”

“Sorry Sir.” I tell him honestly. It’s not exactly news to me that I need to get my shit together.

About The Author:

Hanleigh loves books more than nearly anything in the world; whether its reading them or writing them, Hanleigh just can’t get enough. She relishes in the way authors can create worlds with the words they put in their books. She loves the way your imagination introduces you to a new world when you read a book. It may well be a world completely foreign to the one you live in. That world is brought to life; inspires you to dream, captivates your imagination, entices your senses.

Hanleigh first took to reading as a small child reading Dr Zeus. She then fell in love with romance literature when she first read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen; when she first swooned over Mr Darcy. She’s read more books than she can count and owns more books than some libraries.

Although born in Scotland, she sometimes wishes she could live inside the world that she can create inside her mind, but since that isn’t possible she puts pen to paper and shares that world with this world instead. There is something addictive about being able to mould your words into something that causes the reader to fall into your mind. When you put pen to paper and create a world, it’s exhilarating. Every word has meaning. You know every character intimately. You know every secret, every whisper, every smell, every look; as the author you know the world you created and more so than even the most avid of readers you can get lost in your own creation.

Author Links:

FB: https://www.facebook.com/authorhanleigh/

FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/hanleighbradley/

Street Team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/hanleighsstreetteam/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HanleighBradley

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hanleighbradley/

AFWB: http://authorfriendswithbenefits.com/members/HanleighBradley

Readers Group: http://authorfriendswithbenefits.com/afwb-groups/hanleigh-s-brits

Google + : https://plus.google.com/u/1/+HanleighBradley

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14468232.Hanleigh_Bradley

March #Wrap-up: The Cruel Prince, Gemina, Artemis, and more…

Happy Sunday fellow bookworms! I am always so busy that it is not even useful to mention, but I had done a lot of reading as well, which is brilliant. I started and finished a lot of books and managed to get my Currently Reading list to a manageable amount. As you all know, I love reading more than one book at a time, usually between 5-9 (no joking); I am weird that way!

So without further ado, lets see how I did in March:
– I read a total of 9 books including 2 audiobooks and 2 ebooks.
– I read a total of 3523 pages.
– Average month rating: 3.6 🌟

So what did I read?
IMG_20180210_181817_446.jpgThe Cruel Prince by holly Black 3.5🌟

The premise was intriguing and the book was definitely exciting somewhere past the 80% mark, however between here and there the main character was increasingly annoying and generally useless, we do not see a lot of the cruel prince and the plot doesn’t start really until late. Although I saw the ending a mile away, I found it unpudownable towards the end, hence the 3.5 stars rating ~ I will be posting soon a full review for this.

IMG_20180318_163401_424.jpgGemina by @misterkristoff & @amiekaufmanauthor a solid 5🌟

Do I even need to say why? I loved the characters, the writing, the format, and most of all, I loved the plot! That’s how you write a solid plot, like Gemina! I could not foresee that how the story would progress for the life of me, but I was at the edge of my seat all the way until the end. Loved it!

IMG_20180313_164340_369.jpgRed sparrow by Jason Matthews 4 .5🌟

I rarely read spy thrillers, but this was was realistic, the writing really good, the characters compelling. The plot twists were a surprise even when you knew certain events would unfold and almost, almost cried at the end. I dropped half a star because I found it difficult to get in or to absorb some terms, or because it was getting too technical for me in places, although that’s more on me than the book!

IMG_20180206_083608_593.jpgArtemis by Andy Weir 3.5🌟

I really wanted to like this book a lot more, but Jazz has a very annoying personality and did not like her that much, and it was hard to connect with the rest of the characters or the plot. The plot itself was a bit clunky, just like the writing, but midway I actually had a hard time being able to put it down. At least the ending was quite satisfying and clever!
20180225_151916.jpgShadow of the Savernake by Jaynie Hackett 3.75-4🌟

I really enjoyed this story and I found it fascinating the blend of history with modern notions. For the most part I liked the characters, although I did not agree with some decisions that the leading lady took at certain point, but I suppose that was part of her learning curve as a character. The descriptions were rich, sometimes a little too much, but I enjoyed finding out more about the Sherwood area as I do live nearby to it. I liked Nate a lot, he was a solid character, with good morals and instincts.

37483453In the line of fire by Joss Wood ~ 2🌟

Forced romance, characters that felt like made out of cardboard and stilted “hot” conversation. And the plot… don’t even get me there! Also, what was that about the dude taking the girl who he was protecting and wanting to have sex with, to his ex-fiancees house and crash there when she wasn’t even there?! Like WTF?! I felt so satisfied when she appeared soon after and slapped him, hard! So no, take this away from me!

30849736The passenger (mystery/thriller) by Lisa Lutz 4🌟

I totally loved this thriller/mystery. I listened to it as audiobook and was narrated by Edwina Wrenass and I totally recommend to listen to it as the voice was perfect and enhanced my experience.

PSX_20180408_200219.jpgPlague Land by Alex Scarrow 3.75-4 🌟

Really enjoyed it, I haven’t read anything like this before really. I liked the concept of the virus and the things that it could do, it was a nice twist on the post-apocalyptic virus setting. Really liked the characters ad the plot held my attention all the way until the end.

 
38927824Stormbreaker by Alex Horrowitz (audiobook) 2🌟

I know it’s a YA for boys kinda story, however it was so bad! Like so bad! I listened to it on audiobook when driving and I gave it 2 stars because it was actually entertaining and easy to listen to, but the plot had more holes than Swiss cheese and the characters were bland, cardboard-like with no real motivations for their actions. The villain was laughable which reminded me of the little bald dude from Austin Powers for some reason (I never really watched it, but bu hubs was “kind enough” to show me clips from it, thinking it will make me laugh and want to watch it – NO!)

So that’s it for my March reading feast! What did you read in March? Anything interesting?

Xoxo

Jane

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