Wednesday 1 January 2014

Books I have read in 2013

As the year 2013 has come to an end and another year of new books and novelists is upon us, I thought that I would start a new trend (or due to my lack of reading other people's blogs, it may already be a trend) of putting down in writing the list of books I have read in 2013. I'm not sure if what I have read this year is a normal number for me, or if it is a large amount of books, so if you want to jump on the bandwagon and list the books you have read in 2013 I would love to see your list (You can leave a link in the comments!). So here is my list in the order that I read it, and honestly I loved each and every one of them so please check them out!

Jane Eyre- Charlotte Bronte
Along For The Ride- Sarah Dessen
The Truth About Forever- Sarah Dessen
Miranda Hart: Is It Just Me?- Miranda Hart
The Fault In Our Stars- John Green
Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen
Espresso Tales- Alexander McCall Smith
To Kill a Mockingbird- Harper Lee
An Inspector Calls- J.B. Priestly
Dark Parties- Sara Grant
Half Lives- Sara Grant
If You Find Me- Emily Murdoch
Shadow and Bone- Leigh Bardugo
Siege and Storm- Leigh Bardugo
What's Left of Me- Kat Zhang
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones- Cassandra Clare
Cloud Atlas- David Mitchell
1984- George Orwell
The Art of Fiction- David Lodge
Animal Farm- George Orwell
Koba the Dread- Martin Amis
Frankenstein- Mary Shelley
The Communist Manifesto- Karl Marx
Streetcar Named Desire- Tennessee Williams
She Is Not Invisible- Marcus Sedgwick
The One Dollar Horse- Lauren St. John
Waterland- Graham Swift
Race the Wind- Lauren St. John
Shadows- Paula Weston
Haze- Paula Weston
The Double Comfort Safari Club- Alexander McCall Smith
The Moon and More- Sarah Dessen

Highs and Lows of 2013

I've had a thought that since this is my first New Year whilst having a blog, I might as well have a reflective moment and look back upon the highs and lows of the year that has just passed. I guess the reason why people do this is to make the next year better, so lets hope for an amazing 2014!

1. My friend's sweet sixteenth birthday party in February; me and two others of my friends went dressed in masquerade masks and posh dresses.
2. Visiting a primary school to give a talk about books and writing (this would feature in the top ten best moments of my life so far!)
3. Andy Robb's and Sara Grant's book launch where I met many interesting people
4. My first author interviews.
5. Finishing my GCSE exams- and getting the results I wanted!
6. Having a picnic in Hyde Park with my bestest pals.
7. Going to Thorpe Park for the first time and getting over my fear of roller coasters!
8. The Challenge (where I met loads of amazing people with whom I will remain friends for life I hope!)
9. My birthday party.
10. A recent Christmas gathering with my friends at my house.

1. The first few weeks of sixth form, where I was stressed out of my mind!
2. The moments when I thought I was going to fail my maths and physics exams.
3. When I actually did fail my piano exam (probably the worst moment of 2013!)
4. All the time I spent on the internet I could have spent writing.
5. Not writing as much as I did in 2012.
6. Being turned down a few *ahem* many times by countless agents.
7. Putting the iPod my parents had given me for my birthday in the washing machine a couple of days after I had received it.

Thankfully I have noticed there are less lows and more highs, which is a positive sign! This is a bit of a different blog than normal, so I hope that you have enjoyed it! Best wishes for a fantastic 2014!

'Haze' by Paula Weston (*****)

As the year of 2013 draws to a close, I think that it would be most appropriate to draw my first year (well, barely half a year) of book blogging to a close with my final book review of the winter season: the second book in Paula Weston's Rephaim series- 'Haze'. Before I start with the review I would just like to add that this experience has been very new to me, and I have enjoyed every moment being involved with Fierce Fiction. Before, I would read books and move on, but now I can enjoy a book and then write down why I liked it- somehow it just adds to the whole journey of reading the book. But this experience hasn't just been receiving books in the post (which, if you ask any member of my family, I have been very over-excited about!) and reviewing them, but I have also had the amazing opportunity to interview amazing authors- something a year ago I would never have dreamed of doing! But yearly reflection over- the review is ready and waiting!

Haze was the type of sequel that every sequel should look to- it wasn't a book where the writer desperately tried to squeeze in new ideas that they didn't manage to in the new book, or verged off on a completely different train of thought; it was a direct continuation of the first book which I absolutely loved. The characters were further developed, as was the storyline, and whilst I really enjoyed the first book it was still a book that I could put down and save for another day, Haze on the other hand, I found it very difficult to stop reading once I had started! As I explained in my previous blog, I believe that the reason Weston's writing is so successful is because she uses all of the elements for the perfect book (gripping characters, engrossing storyline, the perfect mix of romance and adventure...) and I felt that this did not lack in the slightest in this sequel.

(Warning- this paragraph contains spoilers!) I'm sure every reader of Shadows and Haze will agree with me when I say, 'Look, we all knew that Jude was going to be found at some time. And he's going to be one of 'them'. And he's going to be another *ahem* good looking dude.' But somehow, I was still excited when I finally turned to the chapter when Rafa and Gabe finally took the journey to Melbourne to find Jude, and I was still shocked when they spotted him on the pier. It takes a flipping good writer to make their readers engrossed about an event that they know is as inevitable as the sun rise (or that my reviews are always late).

Another thing that I only realised when I had finished reading Haze was the measure Weston took to create a whole new image of the average 'female' in a teenage novel. While in this type of book you'd expect a glistening array of romantic moments and whole chapters dedicated to Gabe and Rafa's constant evolving relationship, but these moments were thankfully few and far between. When Gabe and Rafa fought, you'd expect that when Gabe got hurt Rafa would throw down his weapons and tend to her like the charming prince he should be, but instead persuading her to go harder on him. It's strange if you think about it, but weirdly refreshing.

Altogether, there is not a book I couldn't more widely recommend to everyone I know- teenage boys, teenage girls, my parents, my siblings... This book honestly suits everyone. It's sort of a cliche to say the average reviewer tick of, 'I can't wait to see what she/he does next!' But this time I couldn't mean it more sincerely.

I look forward to another year of book reviews, and thank you for the page views (we're getting close to one hundred!) Happy New Year!