Saturday, 30 January 2016

Monthly Wrap Up ~ January 2016

Good morning everyone! Today is going to be my last post of the month, so we have my monthly wrap up post! The first one of 2016.

This month has been up and down for me. At the beginning of the month, even though I started off optimistic, a wave of pessimism struck me and I struggled to keep happy. But with the help of some good friends I managed to pull through that! I feel like this month was pretty uneventful because school decidedly took over my life, but I got a few things done!

I turned 17 on the 29th and my parents have given me a trip to Paris for my birthday! I have a sister studying there for a year so I can't wait to go and spend the week with her sometime in February. One of my best friends has moved back to America which was a sad point for me. Before she left we all went bowling... I haven't been bowling in years, but I surprised myself by winning the first round. I also started up a book club called Owls Be Reading this month because I've always dreamed of being in one myself. Join us, because we'll be staring I Am Malala on the 1st of February!

I've been having a lot of fun improving my photos for instagram as well. I spent one day as a Shadowhunter and have decided I am going to be changing up the Olivia Snaps posts a little... you'll see what I mean (hopefully) next week.

This was my first month working with a TBR and I semi-owned it, semi-failed it. Semi-owned because I read all the ebooks I was intending to and more. Semi-failed because I only read one physical book this month, and it wasn't the one of the two I planned to read!

I'm proud to be able to say that of these books that I read this month I've already reviewed Annabeth Neverending, Soul Reapers, Level Up and also New World Rising. So you can just go and read my thoughts about those ones in the reviews! Vulnerability as the Road to Change by Pratima Nagaraj is a self-improvement book about vulnerability. I didn't think I was going to appreciate it nearly as much as I did. Arrows by Melissa Gorzelanczyk was a book I read in a day. I just loved the cute romance and I have a review of that one coming. I've also got a review of Stygian by Santino Hassell coming in February too. It was a steamy NA that I didn't know I was going to devour and love like I did. I read the whole thing in a day and spent day two rereading the whole thing again. That's the extent of my addiction to it. I am now officially someone who loves the NA genre as well. The book has changed me. The last book I read was Shearwater by Derek Murphy. I read it for an editorial review, and will be reading the full thing when I get an ARC in October. So the review is gonna be a long time coming for that one. But I loved the whole mermaid aspect. I don't think I've read many mermaid stories before.

Don't you just love my over-ambitious TBR! At least anything I don't read, I will pass over to the next month. I've brought over Emma by Jane Austen because I am halfway and didn't finish it last month. And Wonder by RJ Palacio is there again. But the new additions are:

Oliver Twist by Charles Dicken
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper (Reread)
Winter by Marissa Meyer
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Shylock Is My Name by Howard Jacobson

The rest of them are ebooks which are all for review in this case. I've started The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths but I hope to finish it! The others are:

Gabrielle and the Swallows by Esther Dalseno 
The Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin 
Twelve Days in December by Michele Paige Holmes
Soulless by Jacinta Maree
The Bathory Curse by Renee Lake 

The Backlist Books Challenge: 0/50 (Gonna do better next month!)
The 12 Month Classics: 0/12 (Working on it!)
Popsugar 2016 Challenge:7/40
2016 #BustleReads Challenge: 2/20

Olivia's Question: How has January been for you? What did you get up to? What did you read? What do you want to read next month?

Olivia-Savannah x

Thursday, 28 January 2016

New World Rising (Review)

Hi there!

Title: New World: Rising (New World #1) 
Author: Jennifer Wilson
Publisher: Oftomes
Published Date: 5th January 2016
Rating: 5 stars

*Thanks to Oftomes for the review copy*
Synopsis: Since witnessing her parents' murders at the age of eleven, Phoenix's only purpose in life has been to uphold her mother's dying words- to be strong and survive. But surviving outside of The Walls- outside of The Sanctuary- is more like a drawn-out death sentence. A cruel and ruthless city, Tartarus is run by the Tribes whose motto is simple, "Join or die." 

Refusing to join and determined to live, Phoenix fights to survive in this savage world. But who can she trust, when no one can be trusted? Not even herself.

Review: I follow a booktuber called BenjaminOfTomes and was so impressed when I heard he was making a publishing company! He has since published plenty of books and I saw all of them whizz by. But there was something about New World Rising that prompted me to send an email to the publishing company and request a review copy of the book. I was so happy to be approved and now in the end I loved this book! It was well worth requesting and even if it wasn't, we could just look at that beautiful cover all day because it really is gorgeous. 

After turning the first page of this novel I was already sucked into the world. How could it happen so quickly? That's because before we even get to the novel there are some beautiful drawings and sketches of the different kinds of tribe members and their identifying features. We also get a map of the city and if there is a map in a novel it's already bonus points in my opinion. 

It also makes sense for those sketches to be there - in this novel Phoenix uses a journal left by her deceased parents to help her survive in Tartarus which is definitely not an easy task with or without a journal. If you watch Supernatural like I do, you'll know about the journal that the dad leaves Sam and Dean. It's that kind of journal!

The world building was one of my favourite things about this novel. There's a lot of detail that has gone into the world, and we can see that from the way Phoenix travels around Tartarus and what she does. I also liked how each of the tribes were so different. We get to encounter them all in different ways and to me it was just so interesting to see their dynamics and how they worked. It was definitely ruthless.

We can immediately feel sympathy for the main character because we get to read about her losing her parents and understand how it happens. There then is a little time jump to hwen she is of age and it is surprising to see how much she has developed and steeled herself. And yet when the time comes to either rescuing someone else who is a child or saving herself, she still has enough humanity in herself to try and save the child. 

Wilson should also be applauded for her writing style. It was written beautifully. Although I felt like a few conversations were a little stiff, (they were few and far between) the rest of the writing flowed smoothly and just added so much to the story. The descriptions and imagery had me blown away and loving every minute I was sucked into this world. 

This is a dystopian book because usually those follow a certain formula and that can get boring after a while. But boring is the LAST word I would use to describe this book. Maybe a few elements of a dystopian do trail into this one, but Wilson puts her own spin on things which makes this novel so unique. 

If that wasn't enough, we have a lovely main character called Triven who is the love interest. Like Phoenix, he is a book lover (more bonus points!) and reading actually is the first thing that brings them together. Triven is a true gentleman and really knows Phoenix incredibly well - sometimes better than she knows herself. The romance stays clean, which is good for a YA book, but is still enough to have me smiling. 

Mouse is the child that Phoenix saves. To avoid spoilers I won't say much about her but that child is definitely such a sweetheart.

Phoenix's biggest fear is being trapped underground. This makes sense because that's where she was when her parents died. This fear comes back a lot in the novel because it's the kind of experience that haunts you. What I liked about the plot was that even though there was a general issue to overcome, Phoenix had her own personal ones to overcome as well.
My feels with this book
All in all, someone needs to get book two to me ASAP! The cliffhanger ending had me pacing in frustration. I usually stay clear from reading the beginning of the next book that usually appears after the acknowledgements, but this time I couldn't help myself! All it did was throw another twist to the mix that makes me want book two all the more. A must read from me!

Links: Find it on Amazon and Goodreads!

Olivia's Question: Do you have a particular childhood experience that is a memory you won't ever forget?

Olivia-Savannah x

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Annabeth Neverending (Review & Giveaway!)

Hi there!

Title: Annabeth Neverending
Author: Leyla Kader Dahm
Publisher: Self-published
Published Date: 15th December 2015
Rating: 3 Stars

*Thank you to the author for the review copy*

Synopsis: At first, teenager Annabeth Prescott thinks she’s found quite a deal when she talks down the price of an ankh pendant she discovers at a flea market. She soon wonders if the bauble is more than she's bargained for when she faints and glimpses images from a past life in ancient Egypt. 

The discovery coincides with another new find: Gabriel, a handsome young man who takes an interest in her. When she meets his twin brother C. J. at a Halloween party, she realizes they look exactly like two boys who figure prominently into her memories.

Does C. J. share the heroic qualities held by his past incarnation Sethe, her bodyguard when she was Princess Ana? Does Gabriel possess the same evil powers he wielded as Kha, the black sorcerer who sought her affection?

Love meets the supernatural in this gripping young adult paranormal romance. Readers with an interest in reincarnation, as well as ancient Egypt, will be drawn to its mystical mixture of history and hesitation as Annabeth sways between the two brothers. 

Will her reincarnated soulmate win out? Or will Kha finally find the way to her heart?

Review: Annabeth Neverending was a book I went into not quite knowing what to expect. I'd read the synopsis so I understood the plot idea, but I wasn't sure whether I would either love it or not. I have read a book before that had similarities to this one, called Years and an Ocean by Jo Noelle. In that book it also deals with the idea of a character who can travel backwards and forwards in time and is connecting with someone there who is going through a similar situation as to themselves, except it is all happening in the past. 

However, Annabeth Neverending was its own story. Before we dive into the plot and all, I would just like to appreciate the font used in the book. I know it's a very small thing but sometimes the choice does make a little difference to me and I really like what the author used! As well as that, the writing style was nice and very easy to slip into. 

I won't be able to tell you how accurate the portrayal of Ancient Egypt or the mythology truly was, but that is simply because I don't know anything about it for myself. But the way this was written made it sound like the author knew her stuff and I would easily be able to believe that this is an accurate story. 

The main character was very unique. Annabeth is a redhead who happens to also be adopted - a closed adoption so she doesn't know who her parents are or anything about them until she turns 18. As well as that, she has the habit of sleep walking. Not the kind where people are in their own house and wander down into the kitchen, but the kind where they end up streets away without knowing where they are. Those were both some pretty interesting things. 

As well as this, we have the romance which ties into the plot of this one. C.J. and Gabriel are both her eye candy and she can't decide between who she wants to have for herself. They also both relate to her past in Ancient Egypt which makes things all the more complicated. I'm going to be blunt here when I say that this is a real love triangle. I'm glad it never gets to the point of cheating, but there is a lot of debate going through Annabeth's mind. On top of that, the two guys have an interesting relationship with each other. I won't say anymore to avoid spoilers, but when I realised Annabeth's predicament I couldn't help but smile. 

Due to her Ancient Egyptian life relating to this one it means reincarnation comes to play a role in this novel, and destiny. But those aren't the only factors. We get a little paranormal activity and black magic too. It sounds like so much but it is blended pretty well into this one story. 

At times I felt like the novel had a bit of a young YA feel to it. So maybe some mature readers won't fancy it too much. And the main character seems to figure out things pretty quickly and easily believes the idea of reincarnation. I think it would take a bit of self-convincing. Having said that, when she does travel back in time and then returns to the present, she does have some side effects. So I guess that makes things easier to believe. 

I didn't expect the plot twist at the ending at all, which makes me pretty happy. The more unpredictable the book, the better (in my opinion!)

Annabeth trying to choose her guy of choice. 
There is one thing I do have to call the book out on saying. It says 'having a seizure disorder would make my life much easier.' Within context, I get where she is coming from but just... no. No... it would NOT have made her life easier, even with knowing the situation. I got a little angry seeing that, but otherwise, this book was a pretty good read. 

Looking forward to seeing what others think of this book and more of Leyla's writing in the future!

Links: Goodreads and Amazon!

Giveaway: Win a paperback copy of Annabeth Neverending. Open internationally!

Olivia's Question: If you could visit Ancient Egypt, what's the first thing you would do?

Olivia-Savannah x

Friday, 22 January 2016

Nails Extravaganza - Suit Up!

Hello everyone!

Nails Extravaganza is a meme on Olivia's Catastrophe where I share some of my nail art designs with you all. 

I actually really like the show How I Met Your Mother, so as a testament I made some suit up nails. Barney is a character who always believes wearing suits is the best way around doing things, and every time he has to embark on any adventure or mission he always says 'suit up' and then they go on and do things. Which is why my nails are now covered in little suits...

One of the best things about this design is that it is a black and white design. When a design uses only two colours for me - especially these black and white ones - it makes it much easier than other ones. So this didn't take too long!

As always, I also have a tutorial video for anyone who wants to try it out for themselves. 

Olivia's Question: What telly shows do you like watching?

Olivia-Savannah x

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Top Ten: Dream Movie Items I Would LOVE to Own!

Good day everyone!

I was approached by Ryan from Invaluable to share some of the dream movie items I would to own for myself! Invaluable is an auction site where they even feature some movie memorabilia which you can bid for! Now if you know me, I do love my books but I love watching shows and movies too. It would just be so cool to disappear into some of them... or even to own or have some of the things those movies include! So I'm here to show you the top ten move items I would love to own for myself. In no particular order...

1. A car from The Fast and Furious movies.

I don't think I would really care which of the movies the car came from or even what it looked like (too much.) But those cars go fast and are so cool DD: I would love to have one!

2. Black Widow's clothes.

She may be the only female Avenger at first but she is my favourite and she knows how to kick some serious butt. And look super cool while doing it too. 

3. Batman's Batmobile.

It's a monster of a machine but it's a Batman kind of machine, and it looks so cool! For someone who isn't into cars and all that I have too many of them at the beginning of this list...

4. The sword/pen from the Percy Jackson movie.

For once I am not mentioning this movie as a testament as to how book-to-film adaptions can be done wrong, but simply because I would love to have the sword pen that Percy has!

5. Katniss's bow and arrow. 

I thought the books were okay (and the second book SLAYED it) but I love these movies something fierce. Just for the sake of having it, despite me not knowing how to use it, I would love to have Katniss's bow and arrow.

6. A lightsaber from Star Wars.

Who doesn't want one of these? If you can't have The Force, might as well have a lightsaber. 

7. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, in the flesh. 

I'm just kidding. Can't be asking for actors. But I'll be good. Really, really good!

8. A frying pan from Tangled.

Frying pans can be weapons. 

9. Electronics from Ender's Game.

Because imagine having a kindle that was like that...

10. The library from Beauty and the Beast. 

I'm cheating a little too because a library isn't really an item but if I could have half of the books in that library it would make all my dreams come true!

Olivia's Question: What movie items would you want to own?

Olivia-Savannah x

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Soul Reapers (Book Review)

Hi there!

Title: Soul Reapers (Eli and Ava Thrillers #2)
Author:  Shay West
Publisher:  Booktrope
Published Date: 30th November 2015
Rating: 3 stars

*Thanks to the publisher for the review copy*

Check out my review of book one, Organ Reapers!

Synopsis: Detectives Elliot “Eli” Robbins and Ava Aguilar are stumped by a series of seemingly unrelated kidnappings. Utilizing all possible resources, Eli and Ava struggle to find answers despite little physical evidence and few witnesses. When a strange piece of paper is found at one of the crime scenes, it sends Eli and Ava on a chase for a killer who isn’t what he seems.

Review: This book took me quite a while to read because it was fairly long. I was curious to try another book in this series after the interesting murder mystery twist of the first book. And this book continued to be just as unique, adding a religious twist to this murder mystery which puzzles all the usual detectives who wouldn't even consider something supernatural being related to the murdering at all. 

This book brings us back to the old characters although you don't really need to have read the first book to understand this one. Ava is back looking young and beautiful as ever with Eli, her work partner still wanting to be with her but not wanting their job to get in the way. Eli keeps on trying to move on from his ex-wife and has a pretty difficult time in this novel as Ava starts to seriously date someone else for the first time. Love problems do have a little tie into this. 

I wanted to be able to rate this book higher, but the middle, after getting introduced to the case, really dragged for me. It seemed to be repetitive and not really amounting to much. The writing style was alright but nothing too amazing to keep me hooked even when the plot was dwindling. It was such a shame that there were absolutely no leads until 75% of the way through the book because if more happened, I think I would have been able to enjoy the book a whole lot more. 

BUT the ending of this novel was quite the something. In fact, I loved the ending so much that once I got to that final 25% I couldn't stop reading until I knew how everything went down. I wish I could take scissors and cut out the last quarter of the book and make it it's own novel (with a little of the beginning glued to it) because then I am pretty sure it could've gotten a full 5 stars from me. There was so much suspense in those last moments! The main character had to make a really tough choice which tugged at my own morals and values as well. It was the kind of decision that a whole ethical debate could have been based around. It was a brilliant way to end the novel.

The final paragraph ended on a cliffhanger that leaves the promise of more book one characters returning to the limelight and another sequel to come in the future. I'm not sure how I feel about that yet, but it gives me some food for thought. 

Links: Amazon and Goodreads!

New Video! My book haul in video form!

Olivia's Question: Would you be able to sacrifice yourself for the sake of the whole world?

Olivia-Savannah x

Saturday, 16 January 2016

My Hoarding Catastrophe: It Wasn't Me!

Hello everyone! Hope you are having a good weekend!

My Hoarding Catastrophe is a monthly meme book haul here on Olivia's Catastrophe. 

The funny thing about this haul is that I only bought ONE book this month. Only one! I also got 0 books for Christmas, and yet I still have heaps to show you >.> Either way, I have stuck to my book buying ban which allows me to get one book a month, so I feel happy about that. And I'm secretly happy that I got books anyway. I want to shout out to Fiza_Bookaholic who I know through instagram. She takes amazing pictures so you should definitely follow her ;) She lives in the same country as me and seeing as she had some books she was unhauling, she sent them to me :3 That's why I have so many paperbacks!

Paperback books: 

Crown of Midnight - Sarah J. Maas
Sunfail - Steven Savile
Babyville - Jane Green
Forget You - Jennifer Echols 
Black and Blue - Anna Quindlen 
Scandal in Copper Lake - Marilyn Pappano
Twilight Visitor - Real Laplaime
The One I Want - Jennifer Echols 
The Quest for Integrity - Jaswinder Singh (For Review)
Sing Sweet Nightingale - Erica Cameron
Cera's Place - Elizabeth McKenna
Close My Eyes - Sarah DiCello
Mythology of Touch - Mary Stone Dockery 
Even the Stars Look Lonesome - Maya Angelou 
A Twist of Fate - Beverly Clark 
The Color of Trouble - Dyanne Davis
Seeing Stars - Christina Jones
Aching Buttons - Mary Stone Dockery 
Vegas Bites Back - Natalie Dunbar
Fearless - Francine Pascal
The Young Writers Literary Journal 2015 
Annabeth Neverending - Leyla Kader Dahm (For Review)

Freebies! So many good ones this month DD: Couldn't resist, especially the Colleen Hoover one!

Once Gone - Blake Pierce
Kissed - Kimberly Loth 
The Way We Fall - Cassia Leo 
Never Never - Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher
Before the Fall: Arrival - Ally Carter
Hollywood Enemy - MZ Kelly

Gifted! From a good friend who I shared some of my books with as well :3

Slammed - Colleen Hoover
Heart's Blood - Juliet Marillier

Giveaway Wins!

The Awakening: A Poetry Collection - Stuart Peacock (Thank you Stephanie Jane)

For Review: 2016 had too many good books coming out. So when I should have chosen... I chose them all...


Arrows - Melissa Gorzelanczyk
New World Rising - Jennifer Wilson
The Girl from the Savoy - Hazel Gaynor
Death in A Major - Sarah Fox
Troublemaker - Linda Howard
Sarong Party Girls - Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan
The Storm Sister - Lucinda Riley
The Telling - Alexandra Sirowy
Ascending the Boneyard - C. G. Watson
Unhooked - Lisa Maxwell
The Epidemic - Suzanne Young 
26 Kisses - Anna Michels
The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love - Sarvenaz Tash
Gemini - Sonya Mukherjee
The Regulars - Georgia Clark
Everything I Don't Remember - Jonas Hassen Khemiri
Liars and Losers Like Us - Ami Allen-Vath
Are You Here For What I'm Here For? - Brian Booker
Soulless - Jacinta Maree
The Rubber Fence - Diana Stevan 
A Secondhand Lie - Pamela Crane
The Unexpected Everything - Morgan Matson
The Lost Girls - Heather Young (No Cover)
29 - Nancy Pennick 
The Rearranged Life - Annika Sharma
Faking It - Gabrielle Tozer
Everyone Brave Is Forgiven - Chris Cleave

That's it for this month!

Olivia's Question: What books have you recently acquired?

Olivia-Savannah x