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Ch-Ch-Changes

WordPress notified me the other day of my fourth anniversary with them. This in turn reminded me that it had been at least two months since I’d last blogged – far too long. Plus every day my unread email notifications of new blog posts of those I follow kept increasing, and increasing. I never truly caught up after our trip overseas and last count I was almost up to 5000 emails. Up until a few Saturdays ago, I still wanted to read them all. And then when I actually had some free time to sit down and start reading some, I found my heart wasn’t in it like it previously was. Was it because the task seemed too overwhelming to actually accomplish? Possibly. Or was it because when I started blogging I was in a vastly different stage of life than I am now? Most definitely.

These kind of after baby posts are quite common. Either the blogger continues blogging as usual or you never hear from them again. Or they have their “moving on” last post. I’d like to believe that this is different. I definitely would still like to blog however maintaining a weekly commitment is too much at the moment – not so much getting a post up but reading a darn book every week so I can review it! And having the luxury to read each and every one of the blog posts of all those that I follow – well I barely have time to do the washing!

Plus my son will only be this little once. I want to enjoy him to the fullest so yes, blogging is less important to me than him and with working part time, I want to spend the time I have with him, with him.

What does this mean? I will still blog because I enjoy it however it will be sporadic. I’m okay with this and I don’t expect to gain many followers blogging like that but that’s not the point! I’ve connected with so many people through this blog and I’ve had the opportunity to expand my reading horizons and the pleasure to read and review others books. It’s been most rewarding and I believe it will continue to be so!

For those who I follow, you will hear from me now and again! I will look at my “Reader” instead when I get the chance and will actually enjoy it rather than it being a chore that I have to get through – which it started to become.

So here’s to 2016!

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Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

Shadow Scale by Rachel HartmanBlurb

As Seraphina travels the Southlands in search of the other half-breeds to help in the war effort, the dragon General Comonot and his Loyalists fight against the upstart Old Guard – with the fate of Goredd and the other human countries hanging in the balance.

My Perspective

Shadow Scale is the sequel to Seraphina and follows Seraphina as she makes her way to Ninys, Samsam, and Porphyry to find her fellow ityasaari and convince them to come back to Goredd to help in the war effort. However she soon attracts the attention of someone else wanting to use the ityasaari and things begin spiraling out of Seraphina’s control.

The story pretty much seamlessly flows on from the previous one and there are little tidbits of information throughout that help you remember any of the important details you may have forgotten.

Seraphina seemed to have lost some of her nerve in this book and I found her attitude a bit galling. She wasn’t as brave and she harboured so much guilt over Jannoula and what had been done to her (even though she had nothing to do with it) that I felt she was a bit submissive in regards to Jannoula’s actions. I really liked Abdo and I enjoyed getting to know him a bit more. I absolutely abhorred Jannoula and was like, please, someone kill her already! What she went through was horrific however instead of turning her life around, the way she dealt with it was so cruel and manipulative. It was fun to meet all the other ityasaari.

The story was interesting and kept you on your toes and I enjoyed reading about the different places that they traveled to.

I have to admit I was a little disappointed in the ending though. I found it a tad lame.

Overall the book was enjoyable and a must read if you’ve read Seraphina to complete the story however it definitely wasn’t as good as the first book.

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Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina by Rachel HartmanBlurb

The kingdom of Goredd is populated by humans and by dragons who fold themselves into a human form. Though they live alongside each other, the peace between them is uneasy.

But when a member of the royal family is murdered, and the crime appears to have been committed by a dragon the peace and treaty between both worlds is seriously threatened . . .

Into this comes Seraphina, a gifted musician who joins the royal court as the assistant to the court composer. She is soon drawn into the murder investigation and, as she uncovers hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace in Goredd for good, finds herself caught desperately in the middle of the tension.

For Seraphina hides a secret – the secret behind her musical gift – and if she is found out, her life is in serious danger . . .

My Perspective

This is the fifteenth book I read from my post Credit Where Credit’s Due. I read about Seraphina by Rachel Hartman from Sarah at The Last Book I Read. You can read her thoughts on the book here.

Seraphina is about Seraphina Dombegh, assistant to Viridius, court composer for Castle Goredd. Seraphina is busy preparing for the fortieth anniversary of the peace treaty between Goreddi and dragons. Relations between humans and dragons have become somewhat tensioned though due to the murder of Prince Rufus. Through Orma, Seraphina’s tutor who is also a dragon, Seraphina becomes involved in matters and sets in motion things that cannot be undone.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I found the concept really fresh and interesting. It was well written and kept me on my toes. It was medium paced with a good balance of both action and character building. One thing I think would have made it even better was if the author had spent a little more time on “world building”. I found it a bit simplistic and unoriginal.

Seraphina was easy to like although not super easy to relate to. This didn’t stop me from caring for her and rooting for her. She was smart, brave and extremely talented. I really liked Kiggs and Selda, which made a certain circumstance really hard and I was so torn. Orma was thoroughly likeable despite his quirks.

I found it so refreshing that the romance in the book was quite muted and didn’t take away from the overall story.

I’m really looking forward to reading the next book in the series!

Overall I really enjoyed this book and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy.

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Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me by Tahereh MafiBlurb

Things happen when people touch Juliette. Strange things. Bad things. Dead things.

No one knows why her touch is fatal, but The Reestablishment has plans for her. Plans to use her as a weapon.

But Juliette has plans of her own. After a lifetime without freedom, without love, she’s finally discovering her strength – and maybe even a future with the one boy she thought she’d lost forever.

My Perspective

This is the fourteenth book I read from my post Credit Where Credit’s Due. I read about Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi from Lynette at Lynette Noni. You can read her thoughts on the book here.

Shatter Me is the first book in the Shatter Me series. It is about a seventeen year old girl named Juliette who possesses a very unique trait – if you touch her you will die. After a terrible accident occurs involving Juliette, she is abandoned by her parents, shunned by society and locked up in an asylum. However someone has their eye on her.

I really wanted to love this novel. Its style was so unique and the beginning captured me instantly. It didn’t hold me though and I’m actually quite disappointed with how the rest of the story panned out. A lot of people have trouble with this book because of the writing style (the use of purple prose) however that was not my qualm at all. I couldn’t stomach the romantic aspect to it. I found it so ridiculous and immature and boring. It completely took away from the dystopian part of it. It was filled with so much, well basically sexual content, albeit PG, which is NOT how the book is marketed.

Juliette is really easy to like and root for. Despite how she’s been treated, she’s not bitter, she still wants to do good. She’s brave and stubborn. She’s also not perfect, which makes her easier to relate to. She lacks self confidence (no wonder) and finds it hard to believe she’s not a monster. Adam, is of course, practically perfect. Strong. Sexy. Inherently good. What every teenage girl dreams of. It would have been nice if he had some imperfections to actually make him realistic.

The writing style was really intriguing. I’ve never come across purple prose before and i really enjoyed the style – some of the descriptions were fantastic. I did find that it petered off though, which was disappointing.

The dystopian premise was interesting however not super unique with the saturation of dystopian novels on the market at the moment. However Juliette and her predicament was definitely unique and really gave it a fresh twist. I really wish that this story hadn’t become so bogged down in kissing scenes.

There are two more novels in the series however I probably won’t read them. I can understand how teenage girls would probably love this book however if you like a bit more depth to your stories, I would probably look elsewhere. This book could have been so great and I’m really sad that it’s not.

Overall I can only really recommend this book to those into reading YA dystopian novels that mainly revolve around kissing scenes…

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Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth GilbertBlurb

It’s 3 a.m. and Elizabeth Gilbert is sobbing on the bathroom floor. She’s in her thirties, she has a husband, a house, they’re trying for a baby – and she doesn’t want any of it. A bitter divorce and a turbulent love affair later, she emerges battered and bewildered and realises it is time to pursue her own journey in search of three things she has been missing: pleasure, devotion and balance. So she travels to Rome, where she learns Italian from handsome, brown-eyed identical twins and gains twenty-five pounds, an ashram in India, where she finds that enlightenment entails getting up in the middle of the night to scrub the temple floor, and Bali where a toothless medicine man of indeterminate age offers her a new path to peace: simply sit still and smile. And slowly happiness begins to creep up on her.

My Perspective

Eat, Pray, Love follows Elizabeth Gilbert as she takes a year off travelling to Italy, India and Indonesia in her search for self discovery.

I didn’t realise this was actually a non fiction memoir. To be honest I thought she was a pretty lucky individual to have the means to be able to do what she did.

I mostly liked Elizabeth however I did find her also slightly annoying. I can’t put my finger on why, just that she aggravated me a bit.

The book is in three sections: Eat (Italy), Pray (India), Love (Indonesia). I enjoyed reading the first section (Eat – Italy) as it sets the story and involves lots of yummy food! I wasn’t such a fan of the second section (Pray – India) as I found that it was more like a Yoga textbook than her actual experience with Yoga. Obviously you have to have some explanation so that the reader understands however I found it was too much, which means I was a bit bored throughout that section. If I wanted to understand Yoga that much then I’d research it properly rather than reading someone’s non fiction memoir. I mostly enjoyed the third section (Love – Indonesia) however I found it went from being super spiritual to an almost teenage romance. I had a bit of a hard time reconciling the two.

Overall though it was an interesting read and certainly has the potential to make you reflect on your own life. I would probably recommend it.

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The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafonBlurb

It is 1945 and Barcelona is enduring the long aftermath of civil war when Daniel Sempere’s bookseller father decides his son is old enough to visit the secret Cemetery of Forgotten Books. There Daniel must ‘adopt’ a single book, promising to care for it and keep it alive always. His choice falls on The Shadow of the Wind.

Bewitched, he embarks on an epic quest to find the truth about Julian Carax, the book’s mysterious author. Soon Daniel is consumed by strange discoveries about love and obsession, art and life, and how they become entangled within the shadow world of books.

My Perspective

The Shadow of the Wind is about how Daniel as a ten year old boy, is taken to The Cemetery of Forgotten Books by his Father and where he finds a novel by Julian Carax, The Shadow of the Wind. He soon discovers that the book is quite sought after, especially by a faceless man who smells of burnt paper. As a young man, he decides to find out more about Julian Carax however the more he digs, the deeper the mystery and the more trouble he finds himself in.

This book was recommended by one of my customers.

The story was really quite fascinating and unusual. It was written quite differently too – it didn’t flow smoothly, it was quite stilted. However I found this really worked in with the theme and mood of the book, which was a bit dark and mysterious.

I liked Daniel. He was slightly frustrating at times however he was young and naive. The other characters were well written and rich in depth.

The story really made you want to discover Barcelona. There were some great descriptions throughout and a lot of the writing was rich and colourful.

The book had plenty of mystery and intrigue however there were some parts where I was slightly confused. I also predicted some of the major mysteries, which I was slightly disappointed that I saw them coming. There was a lot of others that I didn’t though so it did keep me on my toes.

The book was really interesting and kept me turning the pages.

I would definitely recommend this book if you like historical fiction with a gothic feel to it.

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The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

The Secret Keeper by Kate MortonBlurb

1961: On a sweltering summer’s day, while her family picnics by the stream on their Suffolk farm, sixteen-year-old Laurel hides out in her childhood tree house dreaming of a boy called Billy, a move to London, and the bright future she can’t wait to seize. But before the idyllic afternoon is over, Laurel will have witnessed a shocking crime that changes everything.

2011: Now a much-loved actress, Laurel finds herself overwhelmed by shades of the past. Haunted by memories, and the mystery of what she saw that day, she returns to her family home and begins to piece together a secret history. A tale of three strangers from vastly different worlds – Dorothy, Vivien and Jimmy – who are brought together by chance in wartime London and whose lives become fiercely and fatefully entwined.

My Perspective

The Secret Keeper is mainly about Dorothy “Dolly” Smitham’s life and how nearing the end of it, Dolly’s eldest daughter Laurel, starts digging into the past to find out her mother’s secrets of the life she led before she was married – specifically how the event Laurel witnessed as a teenager came to be.

The Secret Keeper was written in true Kate Morton style – a complex family saga spanning over a couple of generations with plenty of drama, mystery and twists and turns.

I really did not like Dolly. More so from before she was married than after. She was so selfish and so self absorbed. It took so much tragedy for her to realise how much she truly had. I really liked Laurel. I felt like you couldn’t help but be drawn to her. Jimmy was such a sweetheart with such a good heart and I really hated the way Dolly treated him and that he let her! Vivien was such an interesting character with many layers and I couldn’t help but like her.

The story was quite long and about half way through I thought it was about to come to a head and the story was going to be finished. Obviously it didn’t and instead there was a bit of a dead spot and I couldn’t fathom that there was still a whole other half to the story. However it did pick up again and after a bit even more pieces to the puzzle became clear.

There were so many twists and turns in the book that quite a few times I felt a bit lost. It was very interesting though and really kept me guessing. I was able to figure out a few of the minor mysteries however the major one had me completely fooled until the very end. It’s such an in depth book that really once you’ve finished reading it, you need to start at the very beginning and read it all over again and you’d probably still miss some things!

Overall I quite enjoyed the story and I found it hard to put down. I wish I could have loved the story however as I didn’t like Dolly’s character, that put a blemish on it for me. I would definitely recommend if you like a dramatic family saga.