The Dazzling Heights by Katherine McGee – 12 Days of Blogmas

 I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

I think I broke the request button on the Net Galley website when I saw this book as I fell absolutely in love with the first book in the series so I was desperate to get my hands on the sequel as we were left on some serious cliffhangers! Once again McGee transports us into this futuristic metropolis filled with drama, gossip and romance all of which as cheesy as it sounds kept me on the edge of my seat.

New York City, 2118. Manhattan is home to a thousand-story supertower, a breathtaking marvel that touches the sky. But amid high-tech luxury and futuristic glamour, five teenagers are keeping dangerous secrets. Leda is haunted by memories of what happened on the worst night of her life and will do anything to make sure the truth stays hidden. Watt just wants to put everything behind him, until Leda forces him to start hacking again. Rylin wins a scholarship to an upper-floor school and her life is transformed overnight. Avery is tormented by her love for the one person in the world she can never have. And then there’s Calliope, the mysterious, bohemian beauty who arrives in New York determined to cause a stir. But unbeknownst to them all, someone is watching their every move, someone with revenge in mind.

In the first book, I wasn’t a huge fan of Leda however since she’s been with Wyatt I’ve begun to like her a lot more. She’s changed in a good way and I’m in love with how much Wyatt cares for her! Rylin was another character I didn’t love as much in the first book but her chapters in this book were just so good, I loved the drama that came with her moving to her new school especially the whole teacher fiasco!

We’re also introduced to our new character Calliope, who I instantly fell in love with because she was just so different and I thought it was so creative and unique that she and her mom were both con-artists. She fitted in perfectly with the other characters with her carefully woven past with Atlas and I can’t wait to see what happens to her in the next book.

As for Avery, I was a little disappointed with her chapters and I just felt like they were filled with her moping around about her love for Atlas, fingers crossed in the next book she can pull herself together and get more involved with the action! Despite the futuristic setting and the number of innovative gadgets that fill the lives of this elite cast, there remained something essentially understandable and relatable about these characters which I wasn’t expecting to find and what made this book even more enjoyable than the first.

The characters in this book aren’t the only thing that makes it such a brilliant read but it’s dark and dramatic storyline that is just full of so many secrets, lies and lots of scheming. Each chapter leaves us with a cliffhanger and I won’t even talk about the ending because that was just so dramatic and now I’m desperate to get my hands on the next instalment; I need answers!

Overall, I absolutely love this series and all the drama, secrets and mystery that comes with it! If you’re looking for a dramatic yet romantic read that will easily keep you on the edge of your seat then definitely pick this one up, I promise you that you won’t be disappointed!

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Our Favourite Christmas Reads – 12 Days of Blogmas

Merry Blogmas! If you haven’t seen already we’re participating in 12 Days of Blogmas as we haven’t been active on here for a while and both missed blogging! To get us into the Christmas spirit I thought I’d make a list of a few of our favourite Christmassy reads that will get you even more excited for Christmas! Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year, so any book based on this time is already a must read for me, so please leave a few of your favourites in the comments below! In my opinion, you can never read too many Christmas books!

  1. Dash and Lilys Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan – This is such an adorable and festive read that will certainly warm your heart! I can totally relate to Lily and the joy she finds out of the festive season and the fact that it’s set in New York at Christmas makes this book even better! This is the perfect easy read to pick up and curl up on the sofa with on a cold winters day!
  2. The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan – For those who fall in love with the first book and need another dose of Dash and Lily!
  3. My True Love Gave to Me by Various Authors – Filled with lots of individual stories all based around the holiday season, this book is perfect for those who just want a little dose of Christmas and nothing too big to read!
  4. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stones by J.K Rowling – Every Christmas they show the Harry Potter films on television and never fail to make me feel all warm and cosy! There’s just something about reading the Harry Potter books around Christmas that makes me feel so festive and magical so they are always a must read for me around this time of year.
  5. The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S Lewis – Again another ‘children’s’ novel which never fails to make me feel all cosy and warm inside. If you don’t have time to read the book then just watch the films because they are equally as magical and fun!
  6. Miracle on Regent Street by Ali Harris – I remember reading this years ago and all I can remember now is falling in love with the story and the romance! I haven’t read it since then so this year I plan to search my bookshelf and re-read it. Hopefully, it lives up to my previous expectations!

NaNoWriMo Wrap Up – 12 Days of Blogmas

First things first, I’m really sorry for the lack of activity on our blog recently, but I’m back home now for the holidays and I’ve got all my essays done so I thought I’d participate in 12 days of blogmas and get back to posting on here! Anyway, let’s start the first day of blogmas off with my NaNoWriMo Wrap Up!

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and runs through the entire month of November with the aim to encourage its participants to start their novel and write a grand total of 50,000 words! This was a very spontaneous idea so I didn’t do much preparation which certainly backfired when I reached the third week as I got to various scenes where planning was vital which meant I had to stop my writing and start googling; a process I wish I’d done before I started writing. Nevertheless, I managed to reach just over 25,000 words which I am super proud of as I already knew I wasn’t going to reach 50,000 words as I had loads of uni work to juggle at the same time. The first few days started off really well and I managed to keep up with the word limit however as soon as I got back to Uni everything went downhill and my time for writing was taken up by essays and seminar prep.

Next year, I think I’m going to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo which takes place in April and July and hopefully then I’ll have more time to focus on writing and possibly achieve writing 50,000 words because I enjoyed this experience so much that I think it’s going to have to be something I do every year! The increase in my confidence is one the biggest gains I’ve had from this experience, I’m more confident in my writing ability, my story and myself.  I never told anyone that I was participating in NaNoWriMo because I was scared of people reading my work and I still am a bit but certainly not as much as I was at the beginning of the process. Being able to finally put my story and characters into words has been so exciting and I’m even ready to share my writing with a few of my close friends and family. 

For those who are considering to participate next year, here are some tips and lessons I’ve learned throughout my experience:

  1. Just keep writing – When I asked people for tips, this is one kept popping up and I totally understand why. There’s no point stressing out and getting hung up on trying to find the right word or sentence structure. The aim for NaNoWriMo is to write as much as possible and to finally put your ideas onto paper. Just remember you can always adjust and change bits after NaNoWriMo.
  2. Planning is Important! – I hate planning but for a task as big as this it is vital and it will really help you the further you get into writing your novel. I learned this the hard way and wasted valuable writing time. I didn’t expect to admit this but the planning element of it was actually quite fun and I really enjoyed fleshing out my characters and storyline.
  3. Confidence is Key – As cheesy as it sounds you need to believe in yourself and have confidence in your writing ability. That story that’s been developing in your head for however long is important and deserves to be shared. If I can do it, then you all can too!

NaNoWriMo 2017 – Update #3+4

Update #3 – 22nd November

We’re over half way through now which terrifies me and to make it better I’m currently suffering from major doubts about my writing and my story in general. I knew that I would hit this point in my writing soon as I hadn’t yet experienced it, but luckily for me, I managed to shake myself out of it fairly quickly. I blame John Green for all my current doubts as I’ve just finished reading ‘Turtles All The Way Down’ which I thought was incredible. I’ve never been a massive fan of John Green as I’ve only ever enjoyed one of his books but after reading his new release I might be starting to change my mind.

After conquering that first major road bump, I hit another one which had a much bigger impact on my word count and started making me doubt whether I would even hit my personal goal. That road-bump was my lack of re-search and planning as I got to various scenes where planning was vital which meant I had to stop my writing and start googling; a process I wish I’d done before I started writing. Nevertheless it something I can learn from and hopefully next year I will have learned from my mistakes. Fingers crossed I can catch up with my word count because I’m seriously behind!

Update #4 – 30th November

It’s the last day of NaNoWriMo which is crazy as I don’t know where this month has gone. I’ve still got just over 2,000 words to write but luckily I’ve got the day off Uni so my whole day has been dedicated just to writing. I don’t want to go to much into detail about my writing process and my experience as I’m going to leave that for a review post that should be up later this week, but I will say that this has been a great experience that has allowed me to discover more about my writing skills and process. Being able to finally put my story and characters into words has been so exciting and I’m even ready to share my writing with a few of my close friends and family. I never told anyone that I was participating in NaNoWriMo because I was scared of people reading my work and I still am a bit but certainly not as much as I was at the beginning of the process. Now I am so proud of my characters, my story and my ability to put them both into words and I can’t wait to see where the rest of this journey goes.

I hope those who were also participating in NaNoWriMo this year managed to hit their target and that they had as much fun as I did! And I also hope that I’ve encouraged other people to give it a go next year, if I can do it then you can too!

NaNoWriMo 2017 – Update #1+2

Update #1 – 8th November

It’s been over a week since NaNoWriMo started and I’ve only just realized how much work and effort something like this requires. Trying to balance University and NaNoWriMo has certainly been hard and has a big impact on my word count. On the first few days, I was winning at NaNoWriMo, I’d managed to keep up with the word count and I was really getting into the whole writing process however since coming back to University I’m ashamed to admit I’ve only written around 500 words! My aim in the next week is to sort out a timetable and try and work out some sort of balance between the two. I already know that I won’t make it to 50,000 words by the end of November but my aim is  25,000 words instead and hopefully I’ll be able to achieve that.

I don’t want to give anything away yet about what I’m writing, and I am still trying to decide whether or not I should post it on What-pad after I’ve gone over everything and edited it. If you’ve got a What-pad account I’d love to hear what your experience has been like and if you’ve got any tips for new members!

Update #2 – 15th November

We’re halfway through November which means I’ve only got 15 more days to hit my target of 25,000 words, panic! But in all honesty, I’m doing well in terms of word count, and I’ve currently written 13,567 words which equate in my book to just under four chapters which I’m so proud of! Starting this process and learning different things about the way I write is something I’ve really enjoyed and it has even inspired me to work on a few flash fiction projects that I’ve been planning for a couple of months now. My confidence in my work has also increased however I’m still not confident enough to share my work with friends and family just yet, maybe by the end of this month I’ll have sent it to someone to read.

One of the main tips I was given before I started NaNoWriMo was to ‘just write as much as I can’ and at first I really struggled with the idea of not editing or spending ages thinking of the exact words or sentence structure. However, in this last week, I’ve got into the hang of ‘just writing’ and not getting too hung up over the smallest of things and I think it’s because so much more is about to happen in my book. Their adventure is about to begin, I’m introducing new characters and new relationships and I’m at the stage where I’m excited to write and finally see this story take place. Fingers crossed this phase lasts until the end of November!

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this year then I’d love to know how things are going and how you’re finding the whole process?

Happy Writing!

The Traitors Crux – Jessica Prather

I received this book from OfTomes Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

I’m a huge fan of dystopian novels, like Divergent and The Hunger Games so when I heard that  The Traitors Crux was a mix of dystopia and magic I got very excited and knew that I’d love this book! This easy read transported us to a unique world filled with a great ensemble of characters and the occasional plot twist!

In a country ravaged by years of war, plague, and death, witches and wizards are blamed for the state of the world and hunted by the U.S. government. Sixteen years old Kenadee discovers she has magical powers and must face the facts: the government is watching, and they have plans for her. She’s given a deadly mission and an impossible ultimatum: the lives of a hidden group of magic refugees, or the safe return of her long-lost brother.

When it came to our protagonist Kenadee, I didn’t click with her and found it difficult to get over her stubbornness and blind faith however at the same time I really appreciate her realness and I understand her action and the way in which she dealt with different situations; at the end of the day we will do anything to save the ones we love. Harlow and Bryce, on the other hand, were my favourites and I instantly fell in love with their characters, they’re both just so badass and powerful! I definitely ship Kenadee and Bryce, however, I felt their relationship was very insta-romance and happened very quickly. But Prather redeemed herself when they didn’t instantly get back together after that trust was broken, and that for me was real romance as you could see that they both still loved each other but the hurt and distrust was still too new.

There’s no doubt that this book is extremely fast-paced and certainly keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout the entire book, particularly in those action scenes, of which there are many! However, at times I felt scenes were a bit rushed and left me a little confused about what had just happened. Nevertheless, we had some serious plot twists that I didn’t see coming and I thought the ending was perfect, the only negative thing is that I don’t have the sequel in my hands because I need to know what happens next!

Thank you again to OfTomes publishing for sending me this fab book!

What I’ve Been Reading At University #4

I wrote a few posts like this during my first year of University and I got some great feedback and response from all of them, so I thought I’d keep you all updated with what I’m reading in my second year! This year I was not only able to choose my own modules but more of them too, which means more books to read and study!

Frankenstein by Mary Shelly – Hollywood has sadly butchered this book and this is a clear a case where the book is far better than the film. The concept, the characters, and the prose all come together to make this classic tale a masterpiece and it was so interesting when it came to analyzing it!

The Word for World is Forest by Ursula Le Guin – Fans of Avatar will love this book because both have a very similar plot and message in regards to consumerism and deforestation. I’d never heard of Ursula Le Guin, however, I’m looking forward to reading more of her novels later in the year as her writing is so detailed and complex and it just makes you think.

Avatar (2009) dir. James Cameron – Avatar is one of my all-time favourites films because of the thought and craft that went into creating such a masterpiece and if it wasn’t three hours long then I’d watch it a lot more. However being able to study and analyse it, is a dream come true and as sad as it sounds I’m actually enjoying reading lengthy essays about the science, creation and meaning behind the film.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathan Hawthorn – The first book of the year that I hated. For me, there was nothing good about this book, and I understand that it is a celebrated American Classic so my apologies if my thoughts offend you. It took a lot of effort read and I hated pretty much all the characters especially Dimsdale!

The Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey – I’m a sucker for a good Western novel or film, so when I saw my lecturer getting very excited about the prospect of sharing her thoughts and starting lengthy discussions, I knew it was going to be a good read! Thankfully I loved it and my American Literature module has redeemed itself, the characters, storyline and open landscape all came together to create this brilliant story that is far more than just a western adventure!

The Poetry of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge – Two of my all-time favourite poets due to their beautiful and magical representations and relationship with nature. Both poets mastered the ability to transport their readers to faraway places and breathtaking scenes through the power of the imagination and it’s been a real joy to study and appreciate some of their finest work!