Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #21: INTO THE WATER - by Paula Hawkins


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme originally hosted by Breaking the Spine and now taken over by Wishful Endings that highlights upcoming book releases we're excited to read. On my blog, I include movies as well.

 Into the Water - by Paula Hawkins

Release Date: May 2nd 2017.


A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged. Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.

I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN. So it makes perfect sense that I'll adore this book as well. The premise is amazing, Hawkins's writing is beyond amazing, and I NEED THIS.





Anyone else excited for Into the Water? 


Tuesday, 21 February 2017

THE YEAR I MET YOU - by Cecelia Ahern

The Year I Met You - Cecelia Ahern
Year Published: 2014 - by Harper Collins
Genres: Fiction / chick lit / romance / contemporary
Pages: 432.
Source: Library.

Jasmine loves two things: her sister and her work. And when her work is taken away she has no idea who she is. Matt loves two things: his family and the booze. Without them, he hits rock bottom. One New Year’s Eve, two people’s paths collide. Both have time on their hands; both are at a crossroads. But as the year unfolds, through moonlit nights and suburban days, an unlikely friendship slowly starts to blossom. Sometimes you have to stop still in order to move on…

I absolutely love Cecelia Ahern's books. She's one of my favourite authors. So I am utterly devastated and disappointed to have to write this negative review of a book I had high expectations for and yet fell shockingly short.
*sighs* Here we go.


I had high hopes for The Year I Met You. I adore the names Jasmine and Matt - the names alone have chemistry - and the cover of the book is beautiful.
I had high hopes.

But it was boring. Painfully, agonisingly boring. The info dumps that are a regularity in all of Ahern's novels were taken to a whole new level in this book, and I couldn't just overlook them because I was enjoying the story so much - as I usually find myself doing with Ahern's books. In this case, I wasn't enjoying the story; and so the info dumps were an added disappointment.
It dragged on and on with a threadbare plot and infuriating pacing. It was so slow.

I didn't like the characters. Matt's very nature (playboy, drunkard, failed husband, unstable) was a turn-off, no matter how redeemable he became. Jasmine was far too self-righteous, self-absorbed, and introspective. Her internal monologue (the story is narrated by her) was sluggish and heavy.

But it wasn't all bad, thankfully. The idea was unique and original, and the theme was a lot deeper and more thought-provoking than any of the ones in Ahern's previous books.
The characterisation was excellent, and the characters came across with vivid, three dimensional personalities (no matter how unlikable).

The story did improve as it went along (although it wasn't enough to redeem the entire book) and there were some trademark Ahern humorous moments.



The Year I Met You wasn't all bad, but its positives did nothing to redeem the slow, threadbare plot and annoying characters. If you want to read Ahern, I recommend P.S. I Love You or How To Fall In Love. Don't start with this book.





Monday, 20 February 2017

Interview: Magical Words from author Tiffany McDaniel


I am so excited to have author Tiffany McDaniel on the blog today, and I hope you'll enjoy the interview! 
Thank you, Tiffany, for visiting and sharing :)  

Here's the Goodreads link to Tiffany's award-winning novel: 



1: What are some of your all-time favourite books?
Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury, We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, and Above the River: The Collected Poems of James Wright.


2: What are your favourite types of scenes to write? Which are the hardest to write?

My favourite scenes to write are usually the introduction scenes because like the reader I’m meeting the characters for the first time. The hardest scenes to write are probably the scenes of death or scenes that you hope the reader will have an emotional response to.


3: What usually comes to you first: a character, or a story/plot idea?

I always start writing a new novel with two things: the title and the first line. These two things lead the entire rest of the story for me. My goal with the title and the first line is that the essence of the story can be summed up in them.

4: Do you listen to music before and/or while you write? If so, are there any songs you think particularly fit for The Summer that Melted Everything?
While I do have a suggested playlist for books clubs for the novel, I don’t listen to music with lyrics while I’m writing because for me the lyrics compete with the words in my heads. So if/when I listen to music while writing it’s instrumental. Nothing upbeat, but really music that would make you want to paint the walls black.

5: Is there any one line or scene from The Summer that Melted Everything that you’re particularly proud of or love?

I’d say the first line: “The heat came with the devil.” It was the first line I wrote and it’s really the start of everything.

6: If there’s one thing you want readers to take away from The Summer that Melted Everything, what is it?

With my writing I don’t only aim to entertain. I also hope to create stories that engage readers in a larger conversation. One of the things I hope readers take away from The Summer that Melted Everything is that we should all remember to love each other a little more.


7: Any advice for aspiring authors?

I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen. I wouldn’t get a publishing contract until I was twenty-nine for The Summer that Melted Everything, which is my first published novel but my fifth or sixth novel written. It was an eleven year journey to publication full of rejection and perseverance. To any author still struggling on the journey to publication, I say never give up. If I had given up once on that eleven year journey, I wouldn’t be where I am today, with a book on the shelf.

8: Are you working on another book at the moment? Any other book ideas you hope to pursue in the future?

I have eight completed novels, including a poetry collection I’m currently compiling. I hope The Summer that Melted Everything does well enough in sales I get to publish again. I do have a notebook of ideas I still have to write. I always try to keep the creative wheel spinning because once it stops, you go nowhere.






An Ohio native, Tiffany McDaniel’s writing is inspired by the rolling hills and buckeye woods of the land she knows. She is also a poet, playwright, screenwriter, and artist. She is the winner of the Not-the-Booker Prize for her debut novel, The Summer that Melted Everything, which was a Goodreads Choice Award double nominee.





Sunday, 19 February 2017

Weekly Round-Up: Reading and Watching


It's been a really good week for me :) I'm on top of school, of blogging (with the help of my diary, I've planned every day into the second week of March. Is it a bit too much?!) and I also read a lot of books this week.
This coming week there'll be a post up every day, with a lot of reviews. And I've decided not to start any new books until March because of the busy schedule.
This week I'll be reviewing The Year I Met You, Time Between Us, The Echoes of Love, and a film I saw yesterday: The Great Wall (2016).


Valentine's Week Posts:


Romantic Films To Watch 
My Favourite Fictional Couples
Waiting on Wednesday: Table 19
What I Love To See In Romance
The Blog Squad - Part 2
My Favourite Romantic Songs 

This was an especially exciting week because I received these two beauties from their publishers!! I requested them a few weeks ago, and was so shocked when they arrived on my doorstep! I CANNOT WAIT TO START THEM <3




I also received Milijun from its author:   




And I bought Ocean's 13





I better go and make lunch for my family (the usual Sunday macaroni and cheese ;).  And thanks to staying up till 3 last night watching series 5 of Once Upon A Time, I'm yawning now too.

Well, it was worth it.......I have serious CaptainSwan feels (is there no limit to how far those two will go for each other?!) and my heart aches with the beauty of their love. *gazes wistfully into distance*   
WELL.

How's your week been? What have you been reading or watching?

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Valentine's Week #Day4: My Favourite Romantic Songs



It's the final day of Valentine's Week at A Magical World Of Words! 

To end off the romantic week, I thought I'd share some of my favourite "romance-themed" songs. Some are more subtle than others, but I think all of them are beautiful, passionate and romantic. 

Here they are: 
(And sorry for the very long list!)  


Ashes Remain - Right Here



Joshua Radin - When You Find Me



Nickelback - I'd Come For You



Performed by Celine Dion - My Heart Will Go On



Alex Band - Will Not Back Down 



Eric Arjes - Find My Way Back 



Shinedown - I'll Follow You



Ross Copperman - Hunger

 


Ryan Star - We Might Fall



Peter Bradley Adams - Between Us 



Red - Not Alone

 


The Fray - Say When



Lady Antebellum - Just A Kiss




Ah, I love them! But my favourites are probably When You Find Me, I'd Come For You, Will Not Back Down, and My Heart Will Go On <3 <3  


What are some of your favourite romantic songs? Do you like any on my list?  


Friday, 17 February 2017

The Blog Squad: A Blogger Collaboration - Part 2


We are a group of three book bloggers situated on different continents but brought together by our love for books and a penchant for talking about them. We’ve joined our forces to create a collaborative series of posts about book blogging and we hope you’ll enjoy the discussions.


BOOK REVIEWS BY DI - Di Hewlett


Do you have to get ARCs to be a "proper" Book Blogger?


Absolutely NOT!! In fact, I’ve visited blogs that don’t accept (or request) any ARCs at all - they are totally dedicated to the backlist. 

 In my opinion if you have a blog and you talk about books for the majority of your posts then you are a ‘proper’ book blogger. It does also help to have a mildly serious book acquisition problem - you borrow, buy or get books thrown at you left, right and center but let me just tell you that if you START a blog you’re going to have an even bigger problem than the one you have now. I acquire WAAAAY more books now than before I had a blog, which is saying something….


Definitely not! Clue’s in the name ;) If you love books, blog about them; whether you receive them for review or not. I still get library books and blog about them, even when I do receive review copies (or ARCs). As Di says, if the majority of your posts are about books, then you’re a book blogger. It doesn’t matter where you get the books from. Since I blog about movies too, I guess I’m not strictly a book blogger. I call myself that because I accept review copies and the majority of my posts about about books, but I use the term loosely. Movies are just as important as books on my blog, so I guess I’m half-half :)


Absolutely not! Like Di says, I’ve seen blogs who don’t accept or request ARCs. I think a ‘proper’ book blogger is one who talks about books for the most of their blog posts. 

 That being said, I do understand it feels ‘important’ or ‘cool’ to be reading and reviewing an ARC. I’m guilty of that feeling. Everytime I get approved for ARCs on NetGalley it just feels so awesome but it’s because of this feeling that I now have tons of ARCs piled up and no time! An advice to new (and old) bloggers, kindly exercise caution and control while using Netgalley or you might just find yourself buried in a mountain of ARCs!

Do you write a review of every book read (including negative reviews?)



I mostly do - even if it’s going to be a horribly negative review. I do this for a number of reasons: 

- Publishers and authors NEED honest feedback - if you have no constructive criticism from your audience it is very difficult to improve. In my reviews I’m not going to attack the author or just say that ‘This book is AWFUL: don’t read it’ and leave it at that - I will back up my reasoning and I will EXPLAIN why I didn’t enjoy something. No matter what, an author has worked on their book a heck of a lot longer than I will work on my review and I will respect that. 

-  A lot of readers that first want to check out the reviews of a book will not trust a book that only has highly rated reviews (myself included). 

- I have pretty high standards in a lot of cases and I don’t want to fool any people that read my reviews into thinking that I will rate everything highly - I will not. I am an honest reviewer and I think that’s so important to have any sort of credibility. At the end of the day, reading is so subjective and no reader will enjoy everything. Publicity is important for a book and I still want to put it out there for other people to hear about something that they might like to read. If a publisher or author asked me to pull a book from my blog - I would do it - but I would still leave the review on my Goodreads because that’s just who I am.




Yes and no. If it’s a school book, then no. But if it’s a library book or review copy or simply a book I’ve bought myself, then yes. Negative reviews are really hard - and awkward - to do, especially if you’ve received the book for review. In that case, I try to focus on the positives while still being honest. I’m also much more aware of what I’m saying and I try not to rant. In short, having to write a negative review doesn’t stop me from reviewing the book. But I’ll try not to rant (even when it’s REALLY hard!) and, if it’s a review copy, I’ll be a lot more “gentle” - while still being honest. So I do review every book I read, unless it’s a school book.


YES! (Please let it slide that I’m currently behind on writing reviews and so technically, I haven’t written reviews for all the books I’ve read. I promise to get to them soon.) But as for whether I write negative reviews or not, I DEFINITELY DO. I’ve written reviews for book I gave 2 stars or almost DNFed. I think negative reviews are important for readers ,authors and publishers. Authors and publishers are looking for honest feedback and readers are looking for reasons why they might or might not like a book. A a reader, before I begin reading a book (especially a hyped book), I go onto Goodreads and look for spoiler free positive AND negative reviews. As a reviewer, I make my negative reviews as detailed as I would a positive one. I explain why I didn’t like certain aspects of the book. I also mention the positive aspects about every book I review. I understand that as an author it’s scary to put your book out there and let people judge it so I never just say “OMG, the book was horrible guys. Skip it.” That’s not fair. I never tell people in my reviews not to read a book just because it wasn’t my cup of tea and also I give concrete reasons as to why I didn’t enjoy the book.


What's your review process? 


In general I will take a few notes while I read a book (if I remember!!) and I also try to pick out the quotes that mean the most to me while I’m reading and save those away for later too. 

 I always try to rate a book as soon as I finish it so that I’m rating it on ‘feel’. I might note glaring technical errors in my review, but I don’t want the writing of the review to affect my rating which is based on how the book made me feel and the overall enjoyment factor at the end. 

 Due to my less than stellar organization skills at the moment AND lack of spare time (in which I do my reading and blogging) I have been totally failing at writing my reviews timeously. I always try to get them out as soon as possible (before I forget any of the details) but sometimes I’ll have to flick back through the book while I’m doing the review.



*coughs* I may or may not but totally do OCD about my blog schedule and review process ;) I’m a freak when it comes to organising, and blogging and reviewing just takes that a huge step further. 

 I take a lot of notes when I’m reading. Always. I have a folder with review notes, and I also write down the dates I started and finished the book. Then, when I’m finished it, I’ll mark it as read on Goodreads with a short “review to come” as the review. After that, I’ll look in my diary and fit the review in, so I always know at least three days before when I’m going to type the review out and post it on my blog. I try not to hold off longer than two weeks. Confession: I never write a review as soon as I’ve finished the book. Never. It’s just never worked like that for me. And personally, I don’t find the review changes because I’ve waited - as soon as I start the review (notes in front of me) all the feeling comes back, so I’m able to type from the heart. (Hopefully). 

 As for the review itself, I usually do the same as Uma does: divide it into sections of Character, Plot, and Writing. And occasionally, depending on the book (or movie), I’ll do a “Liked” and “Disliked” list, although I think that can sometimes make the review seem too impersonal and “lazy”. Thus I try to avoid doing that. Like Uma, I also provide a three sentence (give or take) concise summary of my overall thoughts, at the end of my review.



Alright! Confession time. I don’t take notes while reading. I tried a couple of times but decided that I couldn’t treat the process of reading a book like a job. Having to take notes distracts me from the joy of just reading. I try to do my reviews as soon as I finish reading to capture exactly what I think and feel as I close the book. 

 I know I’m currently a bit behind on my reviews. I blame the thousand and hundred assignments and tests my Professors at college are throwing at me. But I’ve come up with a new time management plan and will hopefully have all my missed reviews up by the end of the month. Anyways, while I write a review I focus on three main aspects of the book - Characters. Plot, and Writing. I also make a list of things I liked and didn’t like about the book (I’ve had people tell me they find the list really helpful) and then I conclude by mentioning what I thought of the book in a maximum of 3-4 sentences.


Hope to see you over at their collab posts too!: 



 We hope you’ve enjoyed Part 2 in our series of discussion posts! Please talk to us and let us know YOUR answers below. What do you think of our responses? If you have any specific questions you’d like us to address in the future, please let us know in the comments section below. Stay tuned for next week’s questions!


Thursday, 16 February 2017

Valentine's Week #Day3: What I Love to See in Romance



It's #Day3 of Valentine's Week on my blog (or #Day4, depending on how you look at it...) and today I'm sharing the attributes I love to see in romantic relationships!



I love it when couples physically rescue each other. But I especially love it when it goes both ways. 
I love how Hermione's intelligent enough to save Ron and Harry multiple times, but also how she's still vulnerable and that Ron gets the chance to save her too. 

Four is so protective of Tris and rescues her when she needs him; yet she's also brilliant with a gun and gets to save him many times as well.  

I do not like damsels who are constantly getting rescued by their heroes. Yes, let the guys rescue their girls, but have the girls do the same for their guys; whether it's slashing at his attacker with a sword, or simply stitching up his arm when he's stabbed.
It must go both ways. 


AH THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVOURITES. 

While I think a couple should definitely have friends outside of their relationship, I love it when they enjoy each other's company more than anyone else's and are friends first. Jim and Pam from The Office are one of the best examples of this: they were best friends before they started dating (she was engaged at the time) and even when they finally married, you could just tell how close and relaxed they were with each other. They weren't just a couple, they were friends
And I love that.  

Ron and Hermione are another example. They had their arguing and their differences, but deep down they were such good friends. When they finally admitted their feelings and got together, it was beautiful because you'd watched their journey and you'd seen their relationship grow. When they came together, it was natural and genuine.   


I strongly believe that a couple should respect each other's space and remain mature in a relationship. I can't stand guys and girls who are either sex-crazed, extremely touchy, or incapable of surviving without the other.  For example, Bella Swan was literally suicidal when Edward left her, and she was basically incapable of looking after herself. She depended too much on Edward.  

I personally love it when couples are able to have other friends outside their relationship, survive without their love being with them 24/7, and still retain their independence despite having a partner.  


I can't stand it when couples appear perfect in each other's eyes. For a relationship to be realistic, I want the boys to call their girlfriends up on their faults or at least admit they're less than brilliant in one area of their life...

Don't make them find fault with their partner every second of every day, but let girl tell the guy off if he's a terrible driver or a compulsive liar. Don't excuse behaviour just because "you're blind with love".   

And, of course, I adore it when couples are supportive of each other, too. Obviously. 
I love to see them standing together when no one else believes in them, and to see how they support and encourage each other whether it's to do with their personal interests, or their goals and aims in life.    


OK, so this is my guilty pleasure pick ;) I simply love it when couples are adorable and sweet with each other; whether it's the inside jokes, thoughtful gestures, secret smiles, wacky weirdness that only the other one understands, or something else. Some of the best examples of this are Twilight's Jasper and Alice, and Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone's Peter Parker and Gwen Stacey. The looks those couples give each other are amazing; you can tell Jasper just adores Alice's bubbly craziness, or that Peter thinks that Gwen is an adorable weirdo. 
That absolutely warms my heart.



A couple should compliment each other. One of the best examples of this - I think - is the relationship between Emma and Hook in the TV series Once Upon A Time. Hook opens her up, makes her trust again, and she makes him believe in the good man he can be. I just love it when one partner challenges the other, so that they grow and change and try new things and go out of their comfort zone
While I'm not a big fan of opposites attract, I do love it when couples have differences that "teach" the other one something. I love to see couples compliment and test each other like that. 



I could go on and on (kissing in the rain, passionate declarations of love...) but you have to stop somewhere right?! At least for a blog post ;) 

What do you like to see in a romance? Do you agree with my list?