Rapid Fire Book Tag

This month’s tag comes from chicnerdreads, whose beautiful blog I stumbled across. Quick fire questions, come at me.

1. eBook or physical book?
When it comes to the physical act of reading I go through phases of preferring one or other. At the moment I’m leaning towards eBook, but will always choose physical books to purchase for my shelves.

2. Paperback or hardback?
In terms of reading, a paperback is much easier, but I prefer the look of hardbacks, especially when they are on the shelf.

3. Online or in-store book shopping?
I adore both. I appreciate the convenience and cost-saving online shopping provides, but I also love going into a book store and scouring the shelves looking for new books and authors, as the environment is just fabulous.

4. Trilogies or series?
I tend to lean towards trilogies, as series that are any longer are usually daunting to me.

5. Heroes or villains?
Heroes. Who would choose villains? Good has to triumph (most of the time), otherwise what is the point?

6. A book you want everyone to read
The one book I recommend above all others is Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman. It’s fabulous. Why people refuse to listen to me is beyond my understanding. You’re all missing out.

7. Recommend an underrated author
I don’t think Francesca Haig has received enough credit for her interesting debut, The Fire Sermon. It’s pitched as The Hunger Games meets Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, and is full of intrigue. I’ve yet to read the sequel, The Map of Bones, but it’s on my TBR list.

8. The last book you finished
Cherry 
by Lindsey Rosin, which was addictive, but by no means perfect.

9. Weirdest thing you’ve used as a bookmark
Probably bits of shredded tissue. Sometimes that’s the only option.

10. Used books: yes or no?
No. No. No. No thank you. I really hate the thought of reading a book that a stranger has read. It’s just gross.

11. Top three favourite genres
Crime/thriller, YA, fantasy. I generally have a pretty eclectic taste when it comes to books – I’ll read almost anything except for historical fiction and crime – but these are my go to genres.

12. Borrow or buy?
Buy, always buy. I used to borrow from the library avidly when I was a child and reading numerous books a week. Now I buy what I want, when I want and it’s glorious.

13. Character or plot?
This is like asking a parent to choose their favourite child (assuming they have more than one). I think if you don’t like the protagonist, you are less likely to enjoy the plot, so I’m going to have to choose character.

14. Long or short books?
Generally short. I get intimidated by books that are more than 400-odd pages. Although, my favourite book of 2016 to date was 888 pages, I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes, so I suppose it’s not a case of the length of the book, but the quality of the characters, plot and writing.

15. Name the first three books you think of
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
I wish I could deduce my thought process for these seemingly unconnected books. Alas, I cannot.

16. Books that make you laugh or cry?
It’s incredibly rare that I laugh out loud whilst reading a book, so I’m going to opt for cry as I love all the feels. One of my favourite quotes (from George by Alex Gino) relates perfectly to this: “My point is, it takes a special person to cry over a book. It shows compassion as well as imagination.”

17. Our world or fictional worlds?
Fictional worlds. I love escapism, in whatever form.

18. Audiobooks: yes or no?
Absolutely yes! I always have at least one audiobook on the go. It’s practical when you’re travelling and allows you to multitask.

19. Do you ever judge a book by its cover?
Appalling though it is, I confess, yes I do. I tend to avoid books with photographs, especially of people, on the cover. *hangs head in shame*

20. Book to movie or book to TV adaptations?
This is difficult because I love them both. I think some series (The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins for example) translate beautifully onto the big screen, whilst others provide an excellent starting point for kick-ass TV shows (I’m looking at you The 100 by Kass Morgan). Since most books get optioned for films, I’m going to choose movie.

21. A movie or TV show you preferred to its book
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. I just felt it was flat as a novel, with uninteresting characters, but the movie really brought it to life.

22. Series or standalones?
I love both, but I adore the flexibility standalones provide, and the fact they neatly tie up all the loose ends.

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‘Cherry’ by Lindsey Rosin [Book Review]

One of the only saving graces I can think of for being sick is the increased amount of time available in which to read. At just gone midnight, I finished my 7th book of September, and my 33rd of the 2016 Reading Challenge.

Title: Cherry
Author: Lindsey Rosin
Released: 2016
Pages: 390
Category: #51 A debut novel
Rating: 6/10

Review:
“My Mom says that having a feeling of déjà vu means you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.”

Cherry tells the story of four high school seniors, Layla, Emma, Alex and Zoe, who make a pact to lose their virginity before they graduate. Told through all four girls point of views, four story arcs quickly develop. Although the novel is predominantly white middle class, there was some LGBT representation, bumping up the diversity factor.

The primary theme of this book is friendship: the quartet are (almost) always supportive of each other and their choices. The characters are well developed individuals, each with their own distinctive interests, and as a group they flourish. As a YA contemporary, it is brilliantly blunt and forward (it certainly attacks the topic of sex head-on), which is rare in such a novel.

Whilst I did enjoy this novel, and for a debut it is fantastic, it almost tied itself up too neatly with a bow on top. Life is not as straightforward as that.

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I flew through this book – it was strangely addictive – although it didn’t feel entirely realistic as there wasn’t enough drama amongst the four friends and their prospective partners. I enjoyed the plot, which was funny, frank, and profoundly more open than any YA contemporary I’ve read to date, but it all felt too simple: being a teenage girl is no fairytale.

For more content, visit @charlottebibliophile on Goodreads, Instagram and YouTube

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‘Paradise Lost’ by John Milton [Book Review]

Today, after almost three months of pure, unrivaled struggle, I finally finished (in every sense of the word) Paradise Lost by John Milton for the 2016 Reading Challenge, but more importantly, my fifth MA English essay. I actually finished reading the poem over a month ago, but the notes and references to every slight allusion were enough to drown in, hence I only skim read the remainder on the day I submitted my essay.

Title: Paradise Lost
Author: John Milton
Released: 1667
Pages: 511
Category: #50 A book for school
Rating: 3/10

Review:
“One fatal Tree there stands of Knowledge called,
Forbidden them to taste: knowledge forbidd’n?
Suspicious, reasonless. Why should their Lord

Envy them that? Can it be sin to know,
Can it be death?”

Paradise Lost is possibly one the most influential religious epics of all time. Milton, an esteemed scholar, incorporated into his epic all that he had learned and desired about religion, history and politics. Arguably the poem’s primary source material is the Bible, and the story of the fall of man, yet it is also littered with classical allusions to Greek and Roman mythology and literature.

There is no denying that this book is a long and difficult read. The main saving grace came in the form of the complicated individual of Satan, who although being the antagonist, is the only character with whom I felt any connection.

Epic or not, this isn’t a book I’d recommend delving into on a whim.

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I’m not sure I’d ever have read Paradise Lost if it weren’t for it being compulsory for my latest piece of work. Possibly the thing I love the most about my MA is that it is forcing me to read books and genres I wouldn’t otherwise choose to read; some of which I thoroughly enjoyed and others (like Paradise Lost) that I found demanding and almost painful. Whilst this was, without question, one of the most difficult books I’ve ever read (and essays ever written), thankfully I didn’t despise it quite as much at the end as I did at the beginning – small mercies.

For more content, visit @charlottebibliophile on Goodreads, Instagram and YouTube

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Audiobooks On My TBR

September 20: Top Ten Audiobooks On My TBR
This week’s theme focuses on all things audio. I absolutely love audiobooks: I have dozens loaded on my Audible account on my phone. I always have multiple books on the go at a time to cover every genre and situation, and talking books are no different.

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1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (narrated by Rosamund Pike)
Audiobooks are a great way of reading classics without actually exerting yourself to read them. There are many classic novels on my radar that I know I really should read, and with this being narrated by an amazing actress, I think I could well enjoy the story.

2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (narrated by Jake Gyllenhaal)
Although this is only a short book, it being narrated to me by Jake would make the whole experience so much more interesting.

3. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill (narrated by Paul Ansdell)
The only Susan Hill book I’ve read to date was I’m the King of the Castle which I struggled with when I was at school. I think the suspense of this genre would be conveyed excellently in audiobook form.

4. Moranthology by Caitlin Moran (narrated by Caitlin Moran)
I love Caitlin Moran, I think she’s hilarious and speaks sense: I read How To Be A Woman, but I’m looking forward to listening to this one.

5. Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman (narrated by Cassandra Campbell)
Like many, I’m obsessed with the TV show, but I’d like to know more about where the characters and the situation came from.

6. Bossypants by Tina Fey (narrated by Tina Fey)
I’m not hugely aware of Tina Fey’s repertoire (I’ve really only seen her in Mean Girls and Date Night) but she seems like an extremely funny and talented comedienne. I intend to listen to this one once I’ve finally got around to watching my box-set of 30 Rock.

7. Northern Lights by Philip Pullman (narrated by Philip Pullman)
I failed when attempting to read this novel as a kid, but I absolutely want to discover this world, and I can’t think of a better way than through an audiobook narrated by the author himself.

8. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (narrated by Stephen Fry)
I’m a huge fan of Stephen Fry, especially for his narration of the entire Harry Potter series. The way he can make such an eclectic cast of characters come to life is extraordinary – plus, believe it or not, I’ve never listened to the sixth novel.

9. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (narrated by Humphrey Bower)
This series has been recommended to me so many times, and I own the trilogy in paperback, but the sheer size and the level of praise it has received to date has made me reluctant to read it, which is ridiculous.

10. The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson (narrated by Michael Kramer)
Booksplosion were obsessed with this series about a year ago. I meant to join in with the readathon, but life got in the way. This audiobook is over 24 hours long so I know it’s going to be an intense and incredibly world-driven story.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Check out their blog and get involved!

For more content, visit @charlottebibliophile on Goodreads, Instagram and YouTube

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‘Day 21’ by Kass Morgan [Book Review]

For the last couple of weeks I have been completely obsessed with The 100, both the books and the TV series. Today I finished reading the second book in the series, Day 21 for the 2016 Reading Challenge, and remain absolutely enthralled by the world and its characters.

Title: Day 21
Author: Kass Morgan
Released: 2014
Pages: 311
Category: #49 A sequel
Rating: 8/10

Review:
“We aren’t born for ourselves alone. You have to take care of other people.”

Day 21 is the second novel in The 100 series: with the characters firmly adapting to their new lives on earth, this volume features mystery, murder and romance. The character development is excellent, with more details being revealed about our four protagonists: Clarke, Bellamy, Wells and Glass, all of whom are becoming stronger, more interesting individuals.

The primary issue that occurs in this novel is the developing conflict between the Earthborns and The 100. This makes for an entertaining, fast-paced read as the characters war amongst themselves and the outsiders.

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This series just keeps getting better! I adore all the characters (I previously had an issue with Glass, as I thought she was weak and infatuated with Luke) and they have developed beautifully. Clarke remains strong and largely independent, yet it was fun to see her relationship blossoming with Bellamy (and I now finally understand the Bellarke ship, although having just finished watching Season 2 of the show, I am 100% shipping Clexa – no spoilers!) I can’t wait to continue on with this series, both by page and screen.

For more content, visit @charlottebibliophile on Goodreads, Instagram and YouTube

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‘One’ by Sarah Crossan [Book Review]

Lately I’ve been exceedingly good at restricting my book hauling, but today I had four novels land on my doorstep. One of those books was One by Sarah Crossan. It had been on my radar for a while, but seeing the author at YALC 2016 finally persuaded me to buy the book and delve into her writing. It was the best decision I’ve made all week. Even better, it inadvertently counted for one of the 2016 Reading Challenge categories.

Title: One
Author: Sarah Crossan
Released: 2015
Pages: 434
Category: #31 A book of poetry
Rating: 8/10

Review:
“I never knew that normal people
could fly.”

One tells the story of conjoined twins, Grace and Tippi. Having spent their whole lives effectively hidden from society, financial issues finally force the sisters to attend regular school for the first time in their lives.

The book is told in verse, which makes for a beautiful story of love and friendship. Further themes explored include drug abuse, family drama and of course, the stigma attached to those with certain medical conditions.

The characters are fabulously well developed: each had their own issues and redeeming qualities, which makes them feel much more real. The story is in equal parts heartbreaking and uplifting: to put it simply, this is a beautiful story.

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I adored this book. I didn’t know it was poetry until I turned the first page and that made it all the more beautiful to me. As a story it is told through short poems which all contribute to the wider tale: this is ideal because it allows readers to go back and read their favourite sections. I devoured the whole thing two sittings (it would’ve been one – ironically – but dinner disrupted my fabulous reading session) and loved it, and I am absolutely going to delve into Sarah Crossan’s back catalogue!

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‘Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists’ by J.K. Rowling [Book Review]

Today I finished reading my 29th book of the year and the 2016 Reading Challenge, the final book in the Pottermore Presents series. It proved to be another quick and largely interesting read.

Title: Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists
Author: J.K. Rowling
Released: 2016
Pages: 63
Category: #48 A companion book
Rating: 5/10

Review:
“A love of all things saccharine often seems present where there is a lack of real warmth or charity.”

This second volume in the Pottermore Presents series compiles a detailed list of all the Ministers for Magic through the centuries and what they are most remembered for, a history of wizarding prison Azkaban and an insight into playful, mischievous poltergeist, Peeves.

Arguably the two main sections focus on two very different Slytherins: malicious and twisted Dolores Umbridge and oddball Horace Slughorn, providing an interesting background to their characters. Again, there are comments made by author J.K. Rowling, but these are few and far between. It is a quick, interesting read for any individual obsessed with the world of Harry Potter, but it is probably the least entertaining of the three books.

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My favourite section of this book was the Minister for Magic history, as it detailed the lengths of time each individual held power, and what they were remembered for. Unfortunately this was my least favourite of the three Potter Presents eBooks, though I did still whizz through it: I will devour anything Jo releases that centres around the wizarding world.

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