Saturday, 27 February 2016

Monthly Wrap Up ~ February 2016

Hello everyone! Seeing as this is going to be my last post for this month, I think it is time for my wrap up.

It's pretty funny, because I decided I was going to make February a brilliant month. So how did it decide to kick off? I got the flu. I actually had the flu on my birthday in January and it lasted about a week. And right when I got better from the flu... I got food poisoning. I couldn't move for a whole day, and then the second day it was just painful >.>

Luckily, I was feeling much better on the third day, because that was the day I flew to Paris for my holiday! I was staying with my sister who lives one or two blocks from the Eiffel Tower, and we had a blast! I'm saving the majority of the photos for future Olivia Snaps posts, but we did things like eat escargot for the first time (it wasn't too bad, but it's also the LAST time), go to Versaille, see the tower sparkle, buy far too many books in Shakespeare and Co and explore the Notre Dame. Oh, and the catacombs! That's to name a few. 

When I got back I hadn't had a lot of time to study and I ended up buried in schoolwork. I had an English presentation which was really important as it was a percentage of my final grade for the end of the IB. I actually think it went pretty well, so that made me happy. But schoolwork never really ends, so I'm going to stop talking about it now. 

I buddy read Shadow and Bone with a bookstagrammer called jilyourlife who is really cool and together we've ordered the next two books as well so we can buddy read those too! I am so looking forward to this. 

On other news, I've started to work on my daily yoga again and am loving it. Oh, and I've somehow messed up my sleeping pattern again, so I'm awake at odd hours and wanting to sleep in the middle of class.

9 books this month! That seems like a pretty good number to me. And half of them are actually paperbacks, which was another goal for this month. I'm so happy. 

Wonder by R.J. Palacio is a book Noelia @ A Day In Bookland wanted me to read and my mother and two of my sisters have read it as well so I just needed to. And boy, this one was everything they penned it to be. A very good, very moving, and personally for me - a book I could relate to in some ways. I would recommend it to all ages.

The Boy in the Top Knot by Sathnam Sanghera was a book I had to read for class. It's actually a memoir about schizophrenia and culture differences, and it discusses a lot of themes. Again, one I could have related to. And I'm kicking myself because I saw it ages ago, disliked the cover and said I would never read it. That was - until it became necessary for class. 

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Burdago was for the buddy read. I loved it! The fantasy elements were done so well and I just love the Darkling. As I was reading, I kept imagining the Darkling and I taking over the world side by side Queen Levana and the Darkling in the same room. Petrifying much?

Sutphin Bouelvard by Santino Hassell was a book I requested for review after loving his one called Stygian and wanting to explore more NA, I turned to this other book. I loved it almost as much. Now I want to get book two in this series. 

A Study In Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro was something I read under the stress of a lot of homework. It was a fun, Sherlock-retelling filled book that I used when I was on my breaks and I read it in the space of three days. 

Marked by Laura Williams McCaffrey, The Twelve Days in December by Michele Paige Holmes, The Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin and Soulless by Jacinta Maree are all books I have already reviewed, so click the links to hear my thoughts!

Does my TBR look almost the same as last months? Oh, that's because it is. I got so distracted by other books! I also made very slow progress with Emma even though I am enjoying it, so it is appearing again. 

Emma - Jane Austen 
Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens 
Frankenstein - Mary Shelley 
Out of My Mind - Sharon M. Draper (reread)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling 
Winter - Marissa Meyer 
Shylock is my Name - Howard Jacobson 
The Wrath and the Dawn - Renee Adieh 

Also, if my ebook TBR looks way too overambitious and crammed with books, it's because I decided I was going to join ALL THE TOURS and accept ALL THE REVIEW COPIES so yeah >.> Plenty of reviews coming your way in March. 

Gabrielle and the Swallows - Esther Dalseno 
The Rubber Fence - Diana Stevan 
The Rearranged Life - Annika Sharma
29 - Nancy Pennick
Thanks PJ! - John Isaac Jones
Dissension - Adrienne Monsoon
The Zig Zag Girl - Elly Griffiths 

The 12 Month Classics: 0/12 (Working on it!)
Popsugar 2016 Challenge:13/40
2016 #BustleReads Challenge: 3/20

Olivia's Question: How was the month of February for you? What did you get up to? Favourite read? Book you will read next month?

Olivia-Savannah x

Thursday, 25 February 2016

The Bathory Curse (Promo & Giveaway!)

Hey guys!

Life has been really busy for me lately with school, and although I have never hosted a purely promo post before, I'm quickly realising that it is okay to throw the random promo post in there. I'm not going to be able to read all the books ALL of the time. I'm curious to know what you think of this, of course. So let me know if you want to see more promo posts or if I shouldn't change anything up. 

Title: The Bathory Curse
Author: Renee Travis Lake 
Publisher: Self-published
Published Date: 8th November 2015

Synopsis: It is said that Vlad the Impaler's first wife jumped to her death rather than be with such a monster, however…

Princess Cneajna of Transylvania didn’t expect to be brought back from death’s door by an ancient Pagan Goddess. She certainly never asked to be made into an immortal witch. All she wanted was to live out her life the wife of Vlad the Impaler and mother of his two sons. However, now she has a new life, and with it comes the impossible task of breaking a centuries old curse placed on the women of her family. A curse that drives each one insane. To make matters even more complicated this is a family she didn’t even know she was related to: The Bathory’s.

About the author: Renee Lake, previously known as Renee Travis. I am a married mother of three. I am liberal, plus size and pagan living in Salt Lake City, but born and raised in Northern California. I love bats, I think their cute furry faces are precious! I also enjoy mythology, especially darker aspects like ancient death rites. 

What other reviewers are saying: 

"I love the intricate historical elements and mysteriousness this book gives. Also seeing the weakness and developed strength of the main character. Among the supernatural elements there is some real human pain and suffering, along with moments of joy." - Veronica Purcell

"I also was surprised to go through so many centuries and get to read about Vlad and Elizabeth especially. It was creative at how they were written into the story. I liked seeing how the main character Nea and supporting characters evolved over time and that's how you got attached to them. Of course the conclusion to the story is also great." - Stefany Rattles

"Clearly, a great deal of research has gone into this book and it shows. A highly original and imaginative read which will take you on a journey through time and place" - James Sillwood

Why this might appeal: 

- Time travel! As a huge Whovian fan, I definitely approve of going through different periods of history in a book. 

- Fantasy elements! Nea is turned into a Strega and if you read on, you get a bit of an explanation as to what that involves and she has to do. 

- Based on a myth that comes from real life. The Bathory Curse is about a woman who comes back to life after death.

Links: Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter

Giveaway Time! Win a 10$ Amazon Giftcard and your choice of this book either as a hardcopy or an ebook. Open internationally!

a Rafflecopter giveaway    

Olivia's Question: Promo posts - yay or nay?

Olivia-Savannah x

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Olivia's Catastrophe ~ Cut That Virtual TBR!

Hi everyone!

Olivia's Catastrophe is a discussion meme on Olivia's Catastrophe which is something I haven't done in a very long time. But I'm back now, and I can't wait to share with you something that I finally decided to do!

I've started to feel a bit saddened by my huge TBR pile in my room which is piling over with about 200+ books. It can be a bit heavy thinking about how much there is to read - and sometimes a bit glorious, I'll admit. But on top of that physical pile there, and the books sitting on my Kindle, I also have a virtual TBR. Or had to be more precise. Because when you read about 4 book blogs a day there are so many books that you can't buy but sound lovely so you want to mark them as to reads for later on!

I had 2000 books sitting on my virtual TBR and one day I looked at it and thought, "That's ridiculous! When are you ever going to buy/read all of those?" And it's true, when I was ever going to? So I decided I was going to do something crazy. I was going to sit down, and in one go, write out my whole TBR by hand. 

No, not make a TBR Jar. Just write it as a list. And delete the virtual one. 

It may take a few hours, but it is going to save you a lot of trouble later on.

After happily copying down about 100 books, my hand started to ache. I started to get a little bit bored, despite the music accompanying me in my task. And I started to get seriously frustrated when I realised that I had 1900 books to go through yet. 

You start to cut down. You don't list every single book in a series you want to read, but instead write 'books by Agatha Christie' or 'The Divergent series'. It's still not enough though. Your hand is going to start to cramp unless you cut and don't write down those books that you can't remember/don't have interest in anymore/the ones that make you ask yourself: do you really want to read that? Just so that you can save your lovely, dying hand. 

The result: My 2000 book virtual TBR has been cut down to five pages of neat, hand written book titles that are each books I want to read for sure. I think I have about 200 books on there. Maybe it is still quite a lot, but I'm definitely not staring at 2000. 

Oh, and if you want take it one step further? Fold up that written TBR and put it in a room that isn't your office or bedroom. Because every time I feel like adding a book to my "unbought" TBR, I know I have to walk to another room, get it, and write it down. Every time I realise I need to do that, I end up asking myself if I really want to read the book. If I really want to stand up and walk that way to write it down. If I do, then it means it is worth it and I actually will get to it one day. If I don't, then I'm saving that virtual TBR from becoming a looming axe over my head. 

So I challenge YOU to hand write your TBR. Do you think you can really do it?

Let's discuss! How do you keep your virtual TBR from becoming too large? Do you use a TBR jar? Or is your virtual TBR just massive and you want to do something about it or don't mind at all?

Olivia-Savannah x

Sunday, 21 February 2016

The Symptoms of Being Human (Review, SST & Giveaway!)

Hi there!

Title: The Symptoms of Being Human
Author:  Jeff Garvin
Publisher:  Balzer + Bray
Published Date:  2nd February 2016
Rating: 5 Stars

*Thank you to the publisher for the review copy*

Synopsis: The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is . . . Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender-fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

Review: Wow, you guys. Just wow.

I wanted to read this book because I wanted to know more about gender fluidity. So far, there are only two people I have come across in my whole life who I know are gender fluid, and if I am honest I didn’t know too much about what the two words meant. I could turn this review into a debate of whether or not gender fluidity is “real” or “right.” But right now I just want to review the book, so let’s discuss this one regardless of where you stand on those viewpoints. Because regardless of where you stand on those viewpoints, I still think you should read this one.

Riley is a character who sometimes feels more like a  boy, and other times feels more like a girl. Riley’s father is a political figure and sometimes that can be a little stressful on the family because they have to keep up appearances all the time. But what I found particularly clever about Riley is that we never actually get to know what their actual gender is. Which, I think, is a good thing seeing as the aim of this book is to try and get the reader to understand that you don’t have to settle for one.

I was also pretty eager to try this book because of the fact that Riley has a blog that blows up and becomes more famous than they imagined. Being a blogger myself as well, I could relate to that element of things. And Riley’s blog posts, which we do get to see, were pretty interesting. They gave us a lot of insight into their character.

The thing that especially made this book for me were the characters. We get to know Riley so well, especially as they struggle from anxiety and are going through this pretty heavy emotional period of time in this novel. But the secondary characters were fleshed out incredibly well too. There was Solo who was this big bundle of fun and protectiveness and Bec who was a tough but mysterious kind of girl. I liked those two especially and how good for Riley they were, although maybe not all the time. Even though some people can be good, we all make mistakes.

Another important thing was how family had such a role in this one. Maybe not the biggest family ever since Riley is an only child, but a family all the same. Riley especially doesn’t want to ruin their father’s campaign, and wants to keep their mother happy, so you can understand the dilemma involving coming out as gender fluid. Riley’s parents are just trying to understand Riley most of the time, and you can see some of the family issues coming through, but some of the family love as well.

Towards the end I couldn’t stop read. I won’t give you any spoilers as to what happens, but by the end of the book I was moved and wanting to cry and smile at the same time. Make of that what you will!

Personally, I am (despite my previous claim) going to say that I didn’t agree with everything in this book. Despite that, everyone should still read it! Because whether you agree or not isn’t the point – this book can still teach you a little something about human decency and respect nonetheless.

About the Author:
Before becoming a novelist, Jeff Garvin acted on TV and toured as the lead singer of a rock band. He has a BFA in Film from Chapman University and lives in Southern California, surrounded by adorable, shedding beasts.

Giveaway! Enter to win a signed bookplate and bookmark from Jeff Garvin! Open internationally.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Links: Goodreads and Amazon!

Olivia’s Question: Do you respect other people despite having contradicting values or beliefs than their own? Have you ever met someone gender fluid?

Olivia-Savannah x

Saturday, 20 February 2016

My Hoarding Catastrophe ~ Shakespeare & Co

Hello there!

My Hoarding Catastrophe is my monthly book haul here on Olivia's Catastrophe. Today I'm going to be talking about all the fab things I got for the month of February.

Physical Books!

First of all, I got this love #CurrentlyReading mug from Evie Bookish's Society 6 store! You should definitely check it out because I love it to pieces and absolutely adore it!

I got some lovely magnetic bookmarks which I won in a giveaway from Diane @ Fictionzeal which I have already both used and added to my collection. Thanks Diane! And then I got two bookmarks just for being a member of The Young Writers Society as well, which was truly epic. 

Some books were birthday presents! I have a good friend who got me the Calvin and Hobbes so I can see why everyone loves them. And then I went to Paris recently and of course, splurged in Shakespeare and Co where my sister bought me one book as part of my present. 

Two books were for review as well. I secretly adore my copy of Marked because I've always dreamed of having an ARC that looks like well... an ARC. I'll basically be happy never receiving another one in my life now that I have this one!

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer
The Help - Kathryn Stockett
The Secret History - Donna Tartt
Dracula - Bram Stocker
Marked - Laura Williams McCaffrey (For Review)
Shylock Is My Name - Howard Jacobson (For Review)
Calvin and Hobbes - Bill Watterson 

Freebies! I decided to be a bit more lenient when it came to freebies this month. Some looked promising and one of them isn't my usual kind of book but after reading Stygian by Santino Hassell I'll try it out and see what I think of it in the end...

The Witch Hunter - Nicole R. Taylor
A Demon Bound - Debra Dunbar
Crossroads - Mary Ting 
Jaxson - Alisa Woods
Siren Spell - Cidney Swanson 
From Russia With Love - Susan May Warren 
Firefly Hollow - T.L. Haddix

For Review: As usual I got a little bit carried away... but then again, what's new?

 The Story of Kullervo - J.R.R. Tolkien 
Dressed to the Nines - A, Musquiz 
The 13th Continuum - Jennifer Brody
A Murder in Time - Julie McElwain
The Versions of Us - Laura Bernett
Gabrielle and the Swallows - Esther Dalseno 
Dissension - Adrienne Monson
The Art of Not Breathing - Sarah Alexander
No Love Allowed - Kate Evangelista
Grim Tidings - Caitlin Kittredge 
Fool Me Once - Harlan Coben 
Outrun the Moon -  Stacey Lee
Undone - John Colapinto
Fascinate - Sally Hogshead
Titans - Victoria Scott
Still Here - Lara Vapnyar
The Dead Don't Bleed - David Krugler 
The Island - Olivia Lever
The Feathered Bone - Julie Cantsell
Tell the Wind and the Fire - Sarah Rees Brennan
Radiant - M.L. Med
Darktown - Thomas Mullen
Mail Order Bride - Stacy Henrie, Kristin Holt, Annette Lynn, Sarah M. Eden, Heather B. Moore and Sian Ann Bessey
The Altogether Unexpected Disappearance of Atticus Craftsman - Mamen Sanchez
The Secret Language of Stones - M.J. Rose
Dissension - Stacey Berg

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

Olivia-Savannah x