Did I Achieve My 2013 Reading and Blogging Goals?

Tuesday, 31 December 2013
Short answer: Nope, not really.

Let me elaborate. My goals were:

1) To read 50 books, or thereabouts.
I read 30. Woops. However, school cut into my reading time. Majorly. Especially around exam time. I definitely wish I had read more though. *weeps*

2) To post at least one or two reviews every week.
I've not been very consistent in this but I have written a total of 23 reviews this year. Which isn't that impressive now that I think about it...

3) To do more discussion posts.
I sort-of managed to do this one. I certainly posted more discussion posts in 2013 than I did last year. I think. Not as many as I wanted to, but I'm glad I managed to post up the ones I did because they were so much fun to write and I loved the response they got from all of you! :)

4) To read a few classics.
I failed at this one. Terribly. I SO wanted to get into classics and I even bought a few... but never got on to reading any of them. They're just so intimidating! I did receive 1984 for Christmas so, who knows, I might get into classics in 2014!

5) To take breaks when needed!
Now, this resolution, I achieved. I ended up being MIA a lot this year due to school and, in a way, I'm glad I took breaks because, otherwise, the content of this blog would have been extremely boring. Though sometimes I did go MIA without notice. *headdesks*

6) To meet new bloggy friends and to follow/comment more on other blogs.
Yes, yes, yes. Another resolution I managed to achieve. I've made a bundle of bloggy friends this year, followed their blogs and spammed them with comments! :)

7) To reach 80,000 pageviews (currently 73,356! :D) and, fingers crossed, get some more followers (currently 397 xD)!
Managed to reach 124,150 pageviews and 473 GFC followers as of right now and I am so happy! Couldn't ask for anything more! I'm so grateful to the people who look at my blog! :D

8) And finally, to catch up on my review pile!
At the beginning of the year, I was actually pretty organised with my review books but that slowly declined as the year went on. Now I'm super behind. *weeps*

So, as you can see, achieving goals isn't really my thing. I'm not good at it. At. All. So I won't be setting any for 2014 - I just want to enjoy blogging and be able to organise my time more so that studying and schoolwork won't get in the way of blogging and reading time.

What about you? Are you going to set any blogging or reading goals for 2014?

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

PS: Shout out to Lucy from Queen of Contemporary for giving me the inspiration to do this post!

The Christmas Book Haul!

Sunday, 29 December 2013

These are the beautiful books I received this Christmas from jolly ol' Saint Nick. *squeals* I was so excited for them that, over the course of three days, I managed to read Breathe by Sarah Crossan, Unbreathable by Hafsah Laziaf and Shadow and Bone by Laini Taylor. All of which I enjoyed! I've yet to read The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter, Ten by Gretchen McNeil and 1984 by George Orwell but I am hoping to get on to them soon because they've all been on my wishlist for AGES! The Kneebone Boy sounds incredibly unique while 1984 is a book that's been intriguing me for forever! I really want to get into classics and this one sounds like something I could easily enjoy! I am hoping to start Ten tonight and am super excited - it sounds amazing!
What books did YOU get for Christmas this year? Would you like to see reviews of any of these books?
Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo
PS: Sorry about the quality of the picture but it was the best I could do with my phone! :3

Review: Earthbound

Monday, 23 December 2013
Author: Aprilynne Pike
Edition: HarperCollins Children's Books Paperback
Released: 21st August 2013
Series: Earthbound #1
Pages: 338 approx.

Tavia Michaels is the sole survivor of a plane crash. Grief-stricken and alone, she's having strange visions of a boy she's never met. As her visions intensify, Tavia wonders, was the plane crash really an accident? Or is she part of something bigger than she ever imagined?

The only person she can talk to is Benson, her best friend, the guy who's somehow always by her side. But secretly she longs to confide in the boy who haunts her dreams...

Some of you may know how much love I have for Pike's other series, Wings. When I found out she was bringing out another series, I jumped at the chance to review the first book of it. It had a promising premise and, well, that cover refused to let me say no! Luckily, it turned out to be an entertaining and enjoyable read.

The first part of the book appeared almost quite cliché to me - a girl discovering she's different, having visions of a boy she feels something for then a love triangle forming. The love triangle is actually quite similar to the one in Wings. Tavia's stuck between the mysterious, new boy and her best friend. If I haven't made this clear before: I really hate the whole best friend romance. Especially when I prefer the other boy over them! Like in Wings where I found David - the best friend - irritating, I found Benson extremely irritating in this one. So, safe to say, I was annoyed when Tavia admitted she had feelings for him! I do feel like this love triangle is much more dramatic because of the... connection she has with one of the boys, however. Dat's all I'm saying. ;)

Tavia as a main character was decent. I didn't love her or hate her. Well, maybe I hated her at that one part near the end where I thought she was being completely insensitive and selfish but, overall, she was a fine narrator. She was flawed and sometimes I didn't agree with her decisions but, no, I didn't hate her. As I've stated previously, I found Benson to be annoying - he wasn't a nasty person or anything, just got on my nerves. A lot. -.-

The book really picked up toward the end and I found myself enjoying it so much more than the first few chapters. Plot twists were revealed and everything really started to heat up. I've come to the conclusion I enjoyed the plotline. At first I thought it was just going to turn out too cliché but the more that was revealed, the more unique it became. I really can't wait to find out more in book two!

To conclude, Earthbound was an enjoyable and enthralling read. I can easily see why some people don't have much patience with the beginning and DNF it, but I do say that you should really stick with it because it really picks up approaching the second half of the book and the ending is just so dramatic and overwhelming. I now can't wait for book two! :)

Huge thanks to HarperCollins for my review copy!
Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

Showcase Sunday {24}

Sunday, 22 December 2013
Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Vicky over at Books, Biscuits & Tea where book bloggers showcase the books they have received throughout the week.

I am SO unbelievably behind with reading review books it's crazy... and, lately, I've been plagued with surprise review books that are really reminding me that I need to get on top of it all again! I'm hoping to get some reading done over the Christmas holiday but, unfortunately, I will have to study for the majority of it!

For Review:

The Queen of Dreams by Peter Hamilton:
I literally only read the synopsis of this ten minutes ago and, put quite simply, it sounds amazing! Definitely something I could enjoy! I feel like it has a rather fairytale-esque premise so I'm excited!

Blackberry Blue and Other Fairy Tales by Jamila Gavin:
When I first received this I didn't give it much thought but the more I've read about it, the more excited I've become - especially since I've heard such good things about it! If its contents are as beautiful as its cover then I'm in for a treat! :)

Shine by Candy Gourlay:
This sounds so different from anything else out there that I'm really intrigued! From the few ratings it's gotten on goodreads, they've all been high so I have hope that it'll be a good read!

Junk Miles (Brenna Blixen #2) & Slow Twitch (Brenna Blixen #3) by Liz Reinhardt:
To be honest, I don't really know what to think of these books... Or whether or not I'll read them. For one, they are the second and third books in a trilogy of which I haven't read the first. Plus, the covers make them look like they belong in the erotica genre - which is a major turn-off. Obviously I don't not want to read them because they've been gifted to me but... I just don't know what to do!

**HUGE thanks to Random House for all these surprise review books!**

Book Swaps:

The Dream Thieves (Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater:
Yes, Hawwa and I ALWAYS seem to be book swapping, but this girl is crazy awesome gifting me with books on my wishlist! I read The Raven Cycle last year and enjoyed it - though it was a little slow-going and confusing - and am hoping that I'll enjoy this one more! THANKS AGAIN, HAWWA! :D

*dusts off hands* So that's all the books I've got over the past few months - I think. There's probably some I've forgotten about but, oh wells! What did YOU receive this past week - or, in my case, months?! Leave links to your book hauls below, or just simply tell me what you got!

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

Should Cassie Clare Really Be Writing MORE Shadowhunter Books?!

Saturday, 21 December 2013
My answer: Yes. She most definitely should.

It's been nearly a year since Cassie Clare announced she would be writing a new Shadowhunter series - The Dark Artifices - and, during that time, there's been a lot of debate. Some people (like me) are totally for it. They love the idea of a new series that will let them delve deeper and prevent them from having to wave goodbye to a world they love so much, while others are more hesitant... Isn't the Shadowhunter world going to become tiring? Too overused?

To those people I say:

Clare has spent so much time creating a fantasy world that we, as readers, find easy to escape into and become completely and totally lost in. It takes skill for an author to paint such a vivid picture of a world utterly different from our own and, if they aren't ready to leave it yet or feel like there are still many more tales to be written about it, who are we to say what the right thing is to do?

Personally, I'm excited about delving into another Shadowhunter adventure! Especially since, this time around, it will be mainly from the perspective of a fully-fledged Shadowhunter! Also: Why shouldn't Clare introduce us to another swoon-worthy fellow? We've had Jace, we've had Will... Maybe it's time to make the hunky duo, a trio! ... Though I highly doubt that this Julian could hold a candle to Will! -.~

Los Angeles, 2012. It’s been five years since the events of the Mortal Instruments when Nephilim stood poised on the brink of oblivion and Shadowhunter Emma Carstairs lost her parents. After the blood and violence she witnessed as a child, Emma has dedicated her life to the eradication of demons and being the best, fastest and deadliest Shadowhunter since Jace Lightwood. Raised in the Los Angeles Institute, Emma is paired as a parabatai with her best friend, Julian. As Emma hunts those who caused the death of her parents, the trail they’re following leads back to those they’ve always been taught to trust. At the same time, Emma is falling in love with Julian — her closest friend and, because he is her parabatai, the one person in the world she’s absolutely forbidden by Shadowhunter Law to love. Set against the glittering backdrop of present-day Los Angeles, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches from the warlock-run nightclubs of the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. [To be released sometime in 2015]

You can see my review of (The Mortal Instruments) City of Bones here and The Infernal Devices book reviews here, here and here!

For those of you adamant that you do not want to read any more into the Shadowhunting world, you at least have the series Clare is co-writing with Holly Black, The Magisterium Series!

What do you think? Are you excited about The Dark Artifices? Why? Why not? Are you ready to move on or are you pretty happy delving deeper into this fantasy world? What about The Magisterium Series? Sound like your thing?

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

Interview with Author, Kat Zhang!

Monday, 16 December 2013
I have a super exciting post for you all today - an interview with one of my favourite authors, Kat Zhang! I LOVED the first book in her Hybrid Chronicles series, What's Left of Me (review here) and am hoping that getting to know her and her books a little here will convince some of you to try it out!

First off, could you tell us a little about yourself and your (flipping amazing) book?

Aw, thanks, haha. I'm Kat, and I wrote the Hybrid Chronicles, which currently consist of WHAT'S LEFT OF ME and ONCE WE WERE, with Book3 to release in Fall 2014. The Chronicles are about an alternate universe, where everyone is born with two souls in one body. Usually, by the age of 4 or 5, one of these souls naturally fades away. But this doesn't always happen. The people who keep both souls are called hybrids, and they're feared and hated by society.

Eva, one of these "recessive" souls who should have disappeared, spends the series first fighting for the ability to even regain control of her body, then for the right for hybrids to be recognized and protected, instead of institutionalized and killed.

Where did the unique idea of two souls sharing the same body come from? Was it inspired? Random?

I suppose it was pretty random. I don't really have any one spark of inspiration! I just started wondering what it would be like to be stuck in your own body, conscious, but unable to control it. Or what it would be like to know the "little voice" in your head was a real other person.

Do you prefer Eva or Addie? Why?

I can't really say I prefer one over the other! They're very different people, and they'd probably have a lot of conflict, even if they were just normal sisters. Sharing a body definitely raises the stakes for them! 

If you could jump into your book, where would you explore first?

Hm...well, on a basic level, the Hybrid Chronicles world is much like our own. If I dropped you in the middle of the Americas, you probably wouldn't notice too much different from the United States in our world at first. Then you might start wondering at the slightly lower level of technology...computers are much one has cell phones..etc. 

I think if I could jump into my book, I'd explore the world beyond the Americas...but it's a bit spoiler-y to say why :P

If you could be any character from any book in the world, who would you be and why?

I'd have to be pretty cliché and say a character from the post-Voldemort Harry Potter world, haha. But really, it would be pretty awesome, no?

Do you have a special place you like to write in? Any necessities you need whilst writing?

I like have peace and quiet when I write, but other than that, I don't have any specific needs. Writing during school meant I learned to write pretty much anytime and anywhere I could!

Finally, are you currently working on any other books you could tell us a little about?

Nothing I can talk too much about yet, but since I've finished writing all the Hybrid Chronicles books, I'm currently working on a YA fantasy. It's in early stages, though :)

Quick-Fire Questions

Favourite animal? Hmmm...some kind of falcon, maybe
Favourite colour? White
Favourite holiday spot? Someplace warm and beach-y, but with really clear water...snorkelling is always fun :P
Favourite weather conditions? If I'm going to be out, I'd like fair skies and warm weather and a light breeze, but if I'm going to be cooped up inside anyway, pouring rain is nice :P I love a good thunderstorm.
Favourite hot drink? Tea, coffee, I'm not picky :P

Huge thanks to Kat for letting me interviewing her and providing us with great answers!

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

Cast a Harry Potter Spell [Part 1/2]!

Friday, 13 December 2013
Okay, so I'm one of the biggest Harry Potter fans EVER. The books. The movies. I'm simply obsessed. So you can't really blame me for wanting to take part in another HP related post... It's just too good an opportunity to pass up! Especially since this one looks like so much fun and is a really smart idea (thank you so much for creating it, Jasmine)! A quick shout-out to Hawwa for 'tagging' me to do it too!

fixes damaged objects
A book that needs some serious fixing: The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda! The main character was horrible and arrogant and annoying and I couldn't stand him or his attitude one bit! If he had only been less infuriating then I probably could have enjoyed the book more than I did!
creates a narrow beam of light
A book that deserves more attention: Without a doubt, Milledgeville Misfit by T.L. Gray. It is such a beautiful and heart-warming book and I seriously wish I could make everybody in the world read it. I love it so much. If you're only ever going to read one book from a very small publishing company, please make it this one!
counters the effects of lumos

An overhyped book: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. Before you all freak out, it's not because I didn't like it - I did! - it just wasn't... what I thought it would be, I suppose. I didn't warm to the writing style and, at times, the pacing was quite slow and my attention would begin to wander.
summons an object from a significant distance
A book you're anticipating: Hmmm... Oh, I know! Idols by Margaret Stohl! The sequel to Icons which will be coming out next year some time! I know a lot of people who just couldn't get into Icons but, to my surprise, I loved it! 
opens unlocked doors, unless bewitched
A book you want to be more open about: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I studied this one for English and didn't like it at all. But I really want to give it another try and see if I'll appreciate it or like it more now that I'm older!
Expecto Patronum
conjures an incarnation of positive feelings
A book that made you cry, or at least want to: I think I've only ever really cried at one book - Milledgeville Misfit by T.L. Gray (if you haven't caught on already, you need to read this book)! Cat Clarke's Entangled was also one powerful book and I think I teared up a little reading the concluding book to the Matched trilogy by Ally Condie, Reached.
conjures the Dark Mark
A book you wish to mark as one of your favourites: The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa. I absolutely ADORED this book! Totally recommend!
Petrificus Totalus
petrifies victim
A book you wish to keep forever: Dragonfly Pool or Star of Kazan or Journey to the River Sea - all by Eva Ibbotson. For some reason, these books always seemed to transport me into a new and exciting world and, well, they're childhood favourites so I'll always have a soft spot for them. :')
shield charm
An intimidating book you keep putting off: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. I really want to get into classics but, as I've discovered through past experience, I don't have much patience for the old writing style. So, on some level, I do want to read this but.... on the other hand, I don't want to end up not liking it.
used against a boggart
A book with a deceiving synopsis: The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke. I went into the book expecting one thing and came out of it slightly annoyed because it hadn't followed through on what the synopsis had conveyed. I still liked the book though - just not as much as I could have.
Lacarnum Inflamarae
shoots fireballs
A book you wish to burn out of your mind completely: Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky. Just because it's what I would expect a New Adult book of 50 Shades of Grey to be like... It was quite disturbing for me to read because of all the, uhmmm, hanky panky stuff going on in it. :3
Wingardium Leviosa
levitates objects
A book you wish to reread: Hmm... Now that I've been talking about some of the Eva Ibbotson books, one of them! :P
Avada Kedavra
causes instant death
Worst book EVER: I hate saying that a book is the worst book ever 'cause I feel like I'm trashing the author, but a book that was simply not my cup of tea was Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. I just couldn't get into the storyline - there just wasn't anything exciting ever happening - the pacing was just too slow for me and the characters too bland. I know loads of others who liked it though!
puts victim in unconscious state
A book with a chapter you couldn't seem to get over: An epilogue is counted as a chapter, right? If so, boy oh boy did the epilogue of Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare kill me! It was heart breaking and extremely frustrating! Even now I get both sad and angry at the thought of it!
causes befuddlement or forgetfulness
A book that generally confused you: My Name is Mina by David Almond. I remember reading this one years ago and not ever completely grasping the whole concept of the novel... It was just strange. I can't remember it at all now! :O

This is only half of the survey so expect to see the other half up sometime soon! I definetly think if you're a HP geek, you should take part! :D
Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo