Monday, 11 May 2015

Moving along.

Well, it's not really goodbye! But it sort of is... Let me explain.

The original idea for this blog was that I would run it alongside my original blog, stasialikescakes, with bookish posts here, and everything else there. That didn't work out so well. What actually happened was just that I posted here quite often and all but stopped posting there. This was not the plan but I'm sure many people could have seen it coming.

Over the past month or so I've been thinking about how I use these blogs and I've finally come to a decision, which is that I want to go back to having stasialikescakes be my one and only blog.

But I'll still be posting about books! I always used to blog about books on stasialikescakes and that is what I am going to go back to doing. So, although I'll no longer be posting to this blog, if you still want to hear from me then please do follow stasialikescakes because you'll find all my future bookish posts there, right alongside everything else, the way it used to be. (I'll even still be doing the Gossip Girl Review Project! Nothing could stop me tbh.)

So, it may be goodbye to stasialikesbooks the blog, but it certainly won't be goodbye to Stasia liking books! I'll just be liking them somewhere else.

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Wednesday, 15 April 2015

A very small second hand book haul.

How great is my new duvet cover? It's so eighties. I love it.

This is just a tiny haul because mum came home a few weeks ago with a small pile of used books she had bought for just 25p each and we split them between us. She kept My Sister's Keeper and some other novel I've forgotten the name of that sounded equally like something I am just not interested in and I took ownership of these two very interesting looking titles.

What if you grew up to realise that your father had used your childhood as an experiment? 
Rosemary doesn't talk very much, and about certain things she's silent. She had a sister, Fern, her whirlwind other half, who vanished from her life in circumstances she wishes she could forget. And it's been ten years since she last saw her beloved brother Lowell.
Now at college, Rosemary starts to see that she can't go forward without going back, back to the time when, aged five, she was sent away from home to her grandparents and returned to find Fern gone. 
I've heard plenty about We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves over the past year. It's been everywhere since it came out and I've seen a lot of very mixed reviews but nothing about it really caught my interest until I saw a review, coincidentally the day before mum brought this book home, that sort of spoiled what I think is supposed to be the big twist of this story. (I could be wrong. It may very well turn out that this thing is obvious from the beginning but I don't want to mention it just in case!) Normally that sort of thing would turn me off a book but in this case it has actually made me far more interested in the story than I was before and I'm definitely looking forward to reading it.

In a tiny flat in West London, sixteen-year-old Marina lives with her emotionally delicate mother, Laura, and three ancient Hungarian relatives. Imprisoned by her family's crushing expectations and their fierce unEnglish pride, by their strange traditions and stranger foods, she knows she must escape. But the place she runs to makes her feel even more of an outsider.
At Combe Abbey, a traditional English public school for which her family have sacrificed everything, she realises she has made a terrible mistake. She is the awkward half-foreign girl who doesn't know how to fit in, flirt or even be. And as a semi-Hungarian Londoner, who is she? In the meantime, her mother Laura, an alien in this strange universe, has her own painful secrets to deal with, especially the return of the last man she'd expect back in her life. She isn't noticing that, at Combe Abbey, things are starting to go terribly wrong.
I haven't heard much about Almost English but I do remember picking it up once in Waterstones some time ago and thinking it sounded interesting, although obviously I didn't buy it and did completely forget about it until mum handed me this copy... The reviews on goodreads don't seem to be overwhelmingly positive but it does sound like an interesting plot so I'll definitely be giving it a go!

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Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Book review: My Drunk Kitchen: A Guide to Eating, Drinking, and Going with your Gut by Hannah Hart.

One day, lonely cubicle dweller and otherwise bored New York City transplant Hannah Hart decided to make a fake cooking show for a friend back home in California. She opened her laptop, pulled out some bread and cheese, and then, as one does, started drinking. The video was called "Butter Yo Sh*t" and online sensation My Drunk Kitchen was born.

My Drunk Kitchen (the book!) includes recipes, stories, colour photographs, and tips and tricks to inspire your own adventures in tipsy cooking.

I feel like I should start this off by saying straight out that this is not really a cookbook. I understand why it's being marketed that way but I do worry that some people who aren't familiar with Hannah and her youtube series also titled My Drunk Kitchen might buy this book expecting some actual recipes they could replicate at home and come away a little disappointed.

This is not to say that I don't think this is a good book (or that there aren't at least a couple of recipes in here that I see myself trying to recreate in the future. Saltine nachos, anyone?). I think this is a great book. Hannah Hart's typical humour is present in abundance and fans of her youtube videos will not be disappointed. My Drunk Kitchen is like a big sister giving you advice not just on cooking but more importantly on life in general. Hart is, as usual, incredibly funny, infectiously optimistic, and unfailingly honest, in the best way possible. The book does take the form of a cookbook, which I think is very clever, with each pun-tastically named recipe containing a life lesson or piece of advice, much like the standard format of the My Drunk Kitchen videos themselves.

My Drunk Kitchen is full of advice from the Hart (I had to) and honestly, I'm gonna go ahead and suggest that it might just be impossible to read this book and not feel more positive about life afterwards.

Fans of Hannah will definitely enjoy this book but if you've never seen her videos then it might leave you a little confused. Luckily, you can fix that right now.

4/5 stars.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Hot Key Books twitter competition haul.

I am so behind on my posts right now. I'm sorry.

Those of you who don't follow me on twitter (why?) may not know that well over a month ago, on Valentine's Day, I was in bed with the most horrific fever and worst headache I have ever experienced. I did not think anything could make that day anything other than completely awful but between hours-long naps I checked twitter to find that thanks to a quotation from The Isobel Journal I had won the Hot Key Books Valentine's Day competition! Let me tell you, it helped a little. 

A few days later that huge pile of books up there arrived at my door and I was pretty floored. I had only expected three or four books so thank you x1000 to Hot Key for being so unbelievably generous!

I've already read and reviewed both Paper Aeroplanes and We Were Liars so you can check out those reviews for full synopses of the books. As I read and thoroughly enjoyed both books as ebooks I am extremely happy that I now have them in paperback form for my bookshelf! I also already owned Fearsome Dreamer as a paperback but I have a friend who I am certain would enjoy it so now I have another copy to give to them! 

Beau Vincent is rude, bad, and dangerous to know. So why can't good girl Ashton Gray keep away from him? She already has the perfect boyfriend - her town's local Prince Charming, Sawyer Vincent. But Sawyer is away for the summer, and in the meantime Ashton is bored, and the heat between her and Beau is undeniable - as well as irresistible. Ashton is about to unleash her bad girl - but what will she do when Sawyer comes home? And how will Sawyer react when he returns to find his girlfriend in the arms of his best friend - and cousin?
The Vincent Boys is the only one of the new books that I have read so far but I won't be reviewing this one on the blog, I'm afraid. I only gave it two stars on goodreads and I just don't really have a great deal to say about it. I did enjoy parts of it and I can understand the appeal but it just wasn't really my thing, unfortunately.

The year is 1910. For the past decade, the Averly family has lived a life of luxury in India, but now they must return to Lord Averly's ancestral estate, the sprawling, majestically beautiful Somerton Court. As the household staff hastily prepare for the family's arrival, they receive shocking news: Lord Averley is bringing back a fiancée with three children of her own, and on top of that, there are rumours of a terrible scandal surrounding Lord Averley's resignation as Lieutenant Governor of Bengal.
I've actually been wanting to read Secrets & Sapphires (Cinders & Sapphires in the US) ever since I read this review on Forever Young Adult about two years ago so I was extremely excited to receive this one and it will probably be the next one I pick up from this haul.

Who says fate is written in the stars? Set in seventeenth-century Europe, Jepp is the coming-of-age story of a teenage dwarf limited not only by his height but by his destiny. Seemingly bound for a life of misery as an astronomer's court dwarf, Jepp must prove himself to be a capable and trustworthy student in order to escape his fate. Willing to defy the stars to win the life he wants and the woman he loves, Jepp must choose his own course and become the man he wants to be.
Jepp, Who Defied the Stars is probably not a book that I would have picked up on my own and I hadn't actually heard of it before I received these books but it sounds really interesting and I am really looking forward to reading it.

After months of bullying and romantic heartbreak, seventeen-year-old Aidan Flood feels just about ready to end it all. But when he wakes up one morning to find that local beauty and town sweetheart Sláine McAuley actually has, he discovers a new sense of purpose, and becomes determined to find out what happened to her. The town is happy to put it down to suicide, but then one night Aidan gets a message, scratched in ice on his bedroom window: 'I didn't kill myself.' Who is contacting him? And if Sláine didn't end her own life... who did?
Shiver the Whole Night Through is definitely not a book I would have picked up on my own and I was a little apprehensive when I first read the blurb but after watching this review I'm really looking forward to this one too!

Thank you Hot Key for this amazing haul of books!

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Book review: The Isobel Journal by Isobel Harrop.

The Isobel Journal is no ordinary snapshot of a contemporary teenage life. A charming and vivid narrative scrapbook of the eighteen-year-old author's sketches, mini-graphic novels, photography and captions, it captures her wit, her observations and her creative talent as she takes us through the three central themes in her life: 'Love', 'Friends, Art and Otters' and 'Me'.

The Isobel Journal is sort of a graphic novel, except not really. There are illustrations and photographs, beautiful drawings and funny captions, and there is no story line or anything that really resembles a plot.

What The Isobel Journal is, really, is exactly that. It is a journal. It is Isobel Harrop's journal, to be precise. This means that there is no solid narrative and very little structure but what is here in abundance is Harrop's wonderful drawing style and wit. Her drawings are charming and a little quirky and very much the style of a teenage girl drawing in her sketchbook. They remind me a lot of the drawings my artist friends would make in their sketchbooks when we were teenagers, in fact. Some of the illustrations are very personal and others less so but they are all lovely and they all give the reader a view into the life of this teenage girl.

I love stripes!

Above is an example of a spread from The Isobel Journal. Harrop also uses photographs and snippets of text in some of her illustrations (and one of those snippets of text won me a nice stack of books from Hot Key last month. More on that in another post!) and these techniques work together to create a real scrapbook feeling. The book is split into three sections. The first section 'Me' is Harrop introducing herself to the reader, the second 'Friends, Art and Otters' delves a little deeper into Harrop's life and interests, and the third section 'Love' almost has a narrative and is certainly the most emotionally personal of the three sections.

There may not be a clear plot to this book but Harrop's illustrations do tell a story. They tell the story of Harrop's teenage years and they do so in a way that makes this book both beautiful and relatable. I read the whole thing in less than an hour but I know that I will go back to it again and again.

4/5 stars.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Book review: Fearsome Dreamer by Laure Eve.

In the remote country of Angle Tar, apprentice hedgewitch Vela Rue has had strange dreams all her life: mysterious and incredibly real. Then she learns that her dreams mean something more - and that her government will do anything to nurture her talent. Embarking on her clandestine training, she meets the enigmatic White, who has been forced to flee his own unforgiving country to the safer realm of Angle Tar. White is seen as a prodigy - perhaps even the ultimate weapon the government have been waiting for. But the electric attraction between Rue and White may spell disaster... or change everything.

From the very beginning of Fearsome Dreamer Laure Eve brings the reader into a rich and intriguing fantasy world. Angle Tar, where most of this book takes place, is an alternate universe version of the UK with little to no technology, where people who live in the countryside are treated not by doctors but by hedgewitches. On the other side of the ocean is World, a conglomeration of countries that is so technologically advanced that people there have become dependant on a virtual reality system called Life.

Laure Eve's world building is fantastic and as I was reading I found myself fully immersed in the world that Rue and White inhabit and intrigued by the special Talent that they possess. There isn't a lot of action in Fearsome Dreamer and the story line isn't quite as defined as it might have been, but Eve's writing style more than made up for that. The reader is dropped straight into White and Rue's respective lives at the start of the novel and those characters and the world they inhabit are the driving force of the story.

There were many great aspects of Fearsome Dreamer, including the mysterious Talent, the fantastic world building, and the interesting characters, but I don't think I quite believed Rue and White's love story. There are moments where we see Rue and White falling for each other, yes, but on the whole I felt more as though I was being told that they were falling in love, rather than shown it. And the whole thing seemed to escalate very quickly toward the end of the book. An ending that left such a cliff hanger I ordered the sequel immediately after finishing the last chapter.

Despite it's faults I would still recommend Fearsome Dreamer for the fascinating world that Eve has created and because Rue is such a great character and I will definitely be reviewing its sequel, The Illusionists, soon.

3/5 stars.

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Sunday, 1 March 2015

GGRP: You Know You Love Me.

Hello and welcome to part two of

For those of you new to this, The Gossip Girl Review Project is a series in which I plan to review every Gossip Girl book pretty much by just comparing them to the TV show. So far it's going well.

Last time, in Gossip Girl we saw what was basically the pilot episode of the TV show except every single character is just a little bit more awful. So, on to book two, You Know You Love Me, in which everyone gets even more awful and things are no longer anything like the TV show.

Blair's mum is marrying Cyrus Rose on Blair's birthday, the day when Blair had decided she would finally have sex with Nate. Something Blair is worryingly obsessed with given that she also has an interview for Yale coming up. Priorities, Blair! Also Aaron Rose, Cyrus's son, who in the TV show is a beautiful but ultimately douchey artist and in the book is just a weird, chillaxed stoner, moves in, much to Blair's annoyance. Dan is coming on way too strong with his intense, coffee obsessed, emo poetry thing and Serena is understandably not digging it. Nate decides that cheating on his girlfriend with the 14 year old Jenny is a wise idea. Also everyone has college interviews and somehow Nate ends up coming out of that better off than anyone else.

Familiar scenes
Nothing, really. In the TV show Jenny and Nate almost have a thing but it never takes off like it does in the book. Even Cyrus and Eleanor's wedding is completely different.

What's different?
Everything! For a start, Blair nearly misses her interview because she and Aaron spend the evening eating junk food and drinking and Blair forgets to set an alarm. Blair Waldorf in the TV show would never risk Yale like that. As we all know, in the tv show it was fighting with Serena and scheming to punish a teacher that were Blair's downfall. Much more befitting in my humble opinion.

Fanciest fancy party
The Waldorf-Rose wedding, of course. Although unfortunately we don't actually get to see much of it because Blair spends the whole time trying to sneak away with Nate and Nate spends the whole time trying to sneak away with Jenny.

Most conniving scheme
Blair persuades her dad to pay for a new course at Yale to try and save her application after messing up her interview. Not just a new building, a whole new course. In France.

What is Chuck Bass up to?
Nothing! He only shows up for the wedding and even then we only see him make a few inappropriate comments to Dan, Nate, and Serena at the reception before he disappears again.

How off the rails is Jenny Humphrey?
You know, she may be smoking pot in the park with Nate and seeing him when she knows he already has a girlfriend but I'm going to put the blame on Nate for this one. He's the older boy here, he's the one with the girlfriend, he should know better.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Chuck will make more of an appearance in book three, All I Want Is Everything, but we'll have to wait until next time to find out!

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