Monday, 11 May 2015
Well, it's not really goodbye! But it sort of is... Let me explain.
The original idea for this blog was that I would run it alongside my original blog, stasialikescakes, with bookish posts here, and everything else there. That didn't work out so well. What actually happened was just that I posted here quite often and all but stopped posting there. This was not the plan but I'm sure many people could have seen it coming.
Over the past month or so I've been thinking about how I use these blogs and I've finally come to a decision, which is that I want to go back to having stasialikescakes be my one and only blog.
But I'll still be posting about books! I always used to blog about books on stasialikescakes and that is what I am going to go back to doing. So, although I'll no longer be posting to this blog, if you still want to hear from me then please do follow stasialikescakes because you'll find all my future bookish posts there, right alongside everything else, the way it used to be. (I'll even still be doing the Gossip Girl Review Project! Nothing could stop me tbh.)
So, it may be goodbye to stasialikesbooks the blog, but it certainly won't be goodbye to Stasia liking books! I'll just be liking them somewhere else.
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Posted by Anastasia at 20:35
Wednesday, 15 April 2015
How great is my new duvet cover? It's so eighties. I love it.
This is just a tiny haul because mum came home a few weeks ago with a small pile of used books she had bought for just 25p each and we split them between us. She kept My Sister's Keeper and some other novel I've forgotten the name of that sounded equally like something I am just not interested in and I took ownership of these two very interesting looking titles.
What if you grew up to realise that your father had used your childhood as an experiment?
Rosemary doesn't talk very much, and about certain things she's silent. She had a sister, Fern, her whirlwind other half, who vanished from her life in circumstances she wishes she could forget. And it's been ten years since she last saw her beloved brother Lowell.
Now at college, Rosemary starts to see that she can't go forward without going back, back to the time when, aged five, she was sent away from home to her grandparents and returned to find Fern gone.
I've heard plenty about We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves over the past year. It's been everywhere since it came out and I've seen a lot of very mixed reviews but nothing about it really caught my interest until I saw a review, coincidentally the day before mum brought this book home, that sort of spoiled what I think is supposed to be the big twist of this story. (I could be wrong. It may very well turn out that this thing is obvious from the beginning but I don't want to mention it just in case!) Normally that sort of thing would turn me off a book but in this case it has actually made me far more interested in the story than I was before and I'm definitely looking forward to reading it.
In a tiny flat in West London, sixteen-year-old Marina lives with her emotionally delicate mother, Laura, and three ancient Hungarian relatives. Imprisoned by her family's crushing expectations and their fierce unEnglish pride, by their strange traditions and stranger foods, she knows she must escape. But the place she runs to makes her feel even more of an outsider.
At Combe Abbey, a traditional English public school for which her family have sacrificed everything, she realises she has made a terrible mistake. She is the awkward half-foreign girl who doesn't know how to fit in, flirt or even be. And as a semi-Hungarian Londoner, who is she? In the meantime, her mother Laura, an alien in this strange universe, has her own painful secrets to deal with, especially the return of the last man she'd expect back in her life. She isn't noticing that, at Combe Abbey, things are starting to go terribly wrong.I haven't heard much about Almost English but I do remember picking it up once in Waterstones some time ago and thinking it sounded interesting, although obviously I didn't buy it and did completely forget about it until mum handed me this copy... The reviews on goodreads don't seem to be overwhelmingly positive but it does sound like an interesting plot so I'll definitely be giving it a go!
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Tuesday, 7 April 2015
My Drunk Kitchen (the book!) includes recipes, stories, colour photographs, and tips and tricks to inspire your own adventures in tipsy cooking.
I feel like I should start this off by saying straight out that this is not really a cookbook. I understand why it's being marketed that way but I do worry that some people who aren't familiar with Hannah and her youtube series also titled My Drunk Kitchen might buy this book expecting some actual recipes they could replicate at home and come away a little disappointed.
This is not to say that I don't think this is a good book (or that there aren't at least a couple of recipes in here that I see myself trying to recreate in the future. Saltine nachos, anyone?). I think this is a great book. Hannah Hart's typical humour is present in abundance and fans of her youtube videos will not be disappointed. My Drunk Kitchen is like a big sister giving you advice not just on cooking but more importantly on life in general. Hart is, as usual, incredibly funny, infectiously optimistic, and unfailingly honest, in the best way possible. The book does take the form of a cookbook, which I think is very clever, with each pun-tastically named recipe containing a life lesson or piece of advice, much like the standard format of the My Drunk Kitchen videos themselves.
My Drunk Kitchen is full of advice from the Hart (I had to) and honestly, I'm gonna go ahead and suggest that it might just be impossible to read this book and not feel more positive about life afterwards.
Fans of Hannah will definitely enjoy this book but if you've never seen her videos then it might leave you a little confused. Luckily, you can fix that right now.
Thursday, 2 April 2015
I am so behind on my posts right now. I'm sorry.
Those of you who don't follow me on twitter (why?) may not know that well over a month ago, on Valentine's Day, I was in bed with the most horrific fever and worst headache I have ever experienced. I did not think anything could make that day anything other than completely awful but between hours-long naps I checked twitter to find that thanks to a quotation from The Isobel Journal I had won the Hot Key Books Valentine's Day competition! Let me tell you, it helped a little.
A few days later that huge pile of books up there arrived at my door and I was pretty floored. I had only expected three or four books so thank you x1000 to Hot Key for being so unbelievably generous!
I've already read and reviewed both Paper Aeroplanes and We Were Liars so you can check out those reviews for full synopses of the books. As I read and thoroughly enjoyed both books as ebooks I am extremely happy that I now have them in paperback form for my bookshelf! I also already owned Fearsome Dreamer as a paperback but I have a friend who I am certain would enjoy it so now I have another copy to give to them!
Beau Vincent is rude, bad, and dangerous to know. So why can't good girl Ashton Gray keep away from him? She already has the perfect boyfriend - her town's local Prince Charming, Sawyer Vincent. But Sawyer is away for the summer, and in the meantime Ashton is bored, and the heat between her and Beau is undeniable - as well as irresistible. Ashton is about to unleash her bad girl - but what will she do when Sawyer comes home? And how will Sawyer react when he returns to find his girlfriend in the arms of his best friend - and cousin?
The Vincent Boys is the only one of the new books that I have read so far but I won't be reviewing this one on the blog, I'm afraid. I only gave it two stars on goodreads and I just don't really have a great deal to say about it. I did enjoy parts of it and I can understand the appeal but it just wasn't really my thing, unfortunately.
The year is 1910. For the past decade, the Averly family has lived a life of luxury in India, but now they must return to Lord Averly's ancestral estate, the sprawling, majestically beautiful Somerton Court. As the household staff hastily prepare for the family's arrival, they receive shocking news: Lord Averley is bringing back a fiancée with three children of her own, and on top of that, there are rumours of a terrible scandal surrounding Lord Averley's resignation as Lieutenant Governor of Bengal.
I've actually been wanting to read Secrets & Sapphires (Cinders & Sapphires in the US) ever since I read this review on Forever Young Adult about two years ago so I was extremely excited to receive this one and it will probably be the next one I pick up from this haul.
Who says fate is written in the stars? Set in seventeenth-century Europe, Jepp is the coming-of-age story of a teenage dwarf limited not only by his height but by his destiny. Seemingly bound for a life of misery as an astronomer's court dwarf, Jepp must prove himself to be a capable and trustworthy student in order to escape his fate. Willing to defy the stars to win the life he wants and the woman he loves, Jepp must choose his own course and become the man he wants to be.
Jepp, Who Defied the Stars is probably not a book that I would have picked up on my own and I hadn't actually heard of it before I received these books but it sounds really interesting and I am really looking forward to reading it.
After months of bullying and romantic heartbreak, seventeen-year-old Aidan Flood feels just about ready to end it all. But when he wakes up one morning to find that local beauty and town sweetheart Sláine McAuley actually has, he discovers a new sense of purpose, and becomes determined to find out what happened to her. The town is happy to put it down to suicide, but then one night Aidan gets a message, scratched in ice on his bedroom window: 'I didn't kill myself.' Who is contacting him? And if Sláine didn't end her own life... who did?
Shiver the Whole Night Through is definitely not a book I would have picked up on my own and I was a little apprehensive when I first read the blurb but after watching this review I'm really looking forward to this one too!
Thank you Hot Key for this amazing haul of books!
Wednesday, 25 March 2015
The Isobel Journal is sort of a graphic novel, except not really. There are illustrations and photographs, beautiful drawings and funny captions, and there is no story line or anything that really resembles a plot.
What The Isobel Journal is, really, is exactly that. It is a journal. It is Isobel Harrop's journal, to be precise. This means that there is no solid narrative and very little structure but what is here in abundance is Harrop's wonderful drawing style and wit. Her drawings are charming and a little quirky and very much the style of a teenage girl drawing in her sketchbook. They remind me a lot of the drawings my artist friends would make in their sketchbooks when we were teenagers, in fact. Some of the illustrations are very personal and others less so but they are all lovely and they all give the reader a view into the life of this teenage girl.
I love stripes!
Above is an example of a spread from The Isobel Journal. Harrop also uses photographs and snippets of text in some of her illustrations (and one of those snippets of text won me a nice stack of books from Hot Key last month. More on that in another post!) and these techniques work together to create a real scrapbook feeling. The book is split into three sections. The first section 'Me' is Harrop introducing herself to the reader, the second 'Friends, Art and Otters' delves a little deeper into Harrop's life and interests, and the third section 'Love' almost has a narrative and is certainly the most emotionally personal of the three sections.
There may not be a clear plot to this book but Harrop's illustrations do tell a story. They tell the story of Harrop's teenage years and they do so in a way that makes this book both beautiful and relatable. I read the whole thing in less than an hour but I know that I will go back to it again and again.
Wednesday, 18 March 2015
From the very beginning of Fearsome Dreamer Laure Eve brings the reader into a rich and intriguing fantasy world. Angle Tar, where most of this book takes place, is an alternate universe version of the UK with little to no technology, where people who live in the countryside are treated not by doctors but by hedgewitches. On the other side of the ocean is World, a conglomeration of countries that is so technologically advanced that people there have become dependant on a virtual reality system called Life.
Laure Eve's world building is fantastic and as I was reading I found myself fully immersed in the world that Rue and White inhabit and intrigued by the special Talent that they possess. There isn't a lot of action in Fearsome Dreamer and the story line isn't quite as defined as it might have been, but Eve's writing style more than made up for that. The reader is dropped straight into White and Rue's respective lives at the start of the novel and those characters and the world they inhabit are the driving force of the story.
There were many great aspects of Fearsome Dreamer, including the mysterious Talent, the fantastic world building, and the interesting characters, but I don't think I quite believed Rue and White's love story. There are moments where we see Rue and White falling for each other, yes, but on the whole I felt more as though I was being told that they were falling in love, rather than shown it. And the whole thing seemed to escalate very quickly toward the end of the book. An ending that left such a cliff hanger I ordered the sequel immediately after finishing the last chapter.
Despite it's faults I would still recommend Fearsome Dreamer for the fascinating world that Eve has created and because Rue is such a great character and I will definitely be reviewing its sequel, The Illusionists, soon.
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Sunday, 1 March 2015
Hello and welcome to part two of
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For those of you new to this, The Gossip Girl Review Project is a series in which I plan to review every Gossip Girl book pretty much by just comparing them to the TV show. So far it's going well.
Last time, in Gossip Girl we saw what was basically the pilot episode of the TV show except every single character is just a little bit more awful. So, on to book two, You Know You Love Me, in which everyone gets even more awful and things are no longer anything like the TV show.
Blair's mum is marrying Cyrus Rose on Blair's birthday, the day when Blair had decided she would finally have sex with Nate. Something Blair is worryingly obsessed with given that she also has an interview for Yale coming up. Priorities, Blair! Also Aaron Rose, Cyrus's son, who in the TV show is a beautiful but ultimately douchey artist and in the book is just a weird, chillaxed stoner, moves in, much to Blair's annoyance. Dan is coming on way too strong with his intense, coffee obsessed, emo poetry thing and Serena is understandably not digging it. Nate decides that cheating on his girlfriend with the 14 year old Jenny is a wise idea. Also everyone has college interviews and somehow Nate ends up coming out of that better off than anyone else.
Nothing, really. In the TV show Jenny and Nate almost have a thing but it never takes off like it does in the book. Even Cyrus and Eleanor's wedding is completely different.
Everything! For a start, Blair nearly misses her interview because she and Aaron spend the evening eating junk food and drinking and Blair forgets to set an alarm. Blair Waldorf in the TV show would never risk Yale like that. As we all know, in the tv show it was fighting with Serena and scheming to punish a teacher that were Blair's downfall. Much more befitting in my humble opinion.
Fanciest fancy party
The Waldorf-Rose wedding, of course. Although unfortunately we don't actually get to see much of it because Blair spends the whole time trying to sneak away with Nate and Nate spends the whole time trying to sneak away with Jenny.
Most conniving scheme
Blair persuades her dad to pay for a new course at Yale to try and save her application after messing up her interview. Not just a new building, a whole new course. In France.
What is Chuck Bass up to?
Nothing! He only shows up for the wedding and even then we only see him make a few inappropriate comments to Dan, Nate, and Serena at the reception before he disappears again.
How off the rails is Jenny Humphrey?
You know, she may be smoking pot in the park with Nate and seeing him when she knows he already has a girlfriend but I'm going to put the blame on Nate for this one. He's the older boy here, he's the one with the girlfriend, he should know better.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Chuck will make more of an appearance in book three, All I Want Is Everything, but we'll have to wait until next time to find out!
Tuesday, 24 February 2015
I'm a big fan of Miranda Hart's sitcom Miranda and I may have been told by one or two people that there are some similarities between myself and her onscreen persona (I'm not sure if I'm supposed to take that as a compliment but I will anyway) so I was, of course, anticipating that I would love this book.
Hart's 'Miran-ual' covers the basics of adulthood from jobs to pets to love and everything in between. The book is written in typical Miranda style and so it feels almost as though the reader is in conversation with the author, as though she is telling you all of these anecdotes face to face. If you enjoy the humour of Miranda then I'm sure you'll enjoy Is It Just Me? because it has that same jokey, personal style and plenty of stories from Hart's life that wouldn't be out of place in her sitcom.
Throughout the book Hart has conversations about her past and future with her 18 year old self, which at times I felt worked wonderfully but at other times felt a little bit like too much of a deviation from the more interesting stuff. When they did work though these conversations were endearing and funny, just like the rest of the book.
Although I perhaps didn't laugh out loud as often as I had been led to believe I might, I did thoroughly enjoy Is It Just Me? and I would highly recommend it to fans of Miranda Hart or Miranda. Is It Just Me? may not have the tell-all quality that people sometimes expect from celebrity memoirs but it is funny, honest, and everything you would expect from Miranda Hart.
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Tuesday, 3 February 2015
I first saw the film version of Starter for Ten, starring James McAvoy, on TV at least a year before I went to university. I got the book shortly after but it sat on my TBR pile at home, at university, and then at home again until now, and though I enjoyed it as much as I knew I would, I'm actually glad I waited until now to read it.
Brian does not have the most amazing time during his first year at university. In fact he's a bit of a loser, but endearingly so. He may have a wealth of advanced general knowledge, but he knows nothing about people, especially how to conduct himself around girls. He's a very believable teenage boy. One of the triumphs of Nicholls's writing is that even when Brian is at his most awkward, his most weird, his most teenage boy-ish, he is still so optimistic and full of hope and self-deprecation in equal measure, that you can't help but like him. Even when he's making an absolute tit of himself in front of Alice's parents or being kind of a git to his old school mates Spence and Tone, Brian is never really mean. Which is really his big saving grace because he can certainly be a bit of an ass.
Although my university experience bared very little resemblance to Brian's (I'm not sure my uni even has a University Challenge team) Starter for Ten made me weirdly nostalgic for that time. Even though it was only a little over a year and a half ago that I was there. Nicholls perfectly captures Brian's feeling of expectation and hope that university will be different and better than school - that he will be different and better. He also perfectly captures Brian's disappointments. And always with humour.
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Saturday, 31 January 2015
It's the mid-1990s, and fifteen year-old Guernsey schoolgirls, Renée and Flo, are not really meant to be friends. Thoughtful, introspective and studious Flo couldn't more different to ambitious, extroverted and sexually curious Renée. But Renée and Flo are united by loneliness and their dysfunctional families, and an intense bond is formed. Although there are obstacles to their friendship (namely Flo's jealous ex-best friend and Renée's growing infatuation with Flo's brother), fifteen is an age where anything can happen, where life stretches out before you, and when every betrayal feels like the end of the world. For Renée and Flo it is the time of their lives.
I downloaded Paper Aeroplanes last year when reviews of it where all over the place on blogs and booktube and I can see now why it generated so much hype. Paper Aeroplanes displays a refreshingly authentic look at the experiences of growing up as a teenage girl, losing friends, and making new ones.
The narrative does not shy away from subjects like periods and sex, things that real teenage girls experience and discuss, and that is certainly something that I think there should be more of in YA novels. However, the writing style did at times strike me as a little too young for the novel's content.
The novel is written in a style that I would expect from a book for younger readers, maybe from 11-13, and for me this jarred with the themes and subjects portrayed. The dialogue in particular at times did not feel like it fit with the ages of the girls. Renée and Flo are both fifteen in this novel and their stories feel authentic to fifteen year olds, but their voices don't. Their voices are also very similar, which caused some confusion at first because the narrative switches between the two girls. The name of each girl always comes before a section in her narrative but their voices are so similar that it took a while before I stopped getting confused about which girl was which.
I don't mean to suggest that this is a bad book, it certainly isn't, and I enjoyed the stories of the two girls and their friendship a lot, but I'm just a little unclear about who the intended audience actually is.
The review for the next novel in the series, Goose, is under the cut. I read the two one after the other so it makes sense for me to put the reviews in one post, but there are spoilers for Paper Aeroplanes in the review for Goose. So, you've been warned!
Wednesday, 28 January 2015
I think we might be able to call this a Feature. My very first StasiaLikesBooks Feature. We might also call it 'a foolish thing to do' but never mind.
'But what is this Feature?' I hear no one ask. Well, it's The Gossip Girl Review Project (GGRP for short). I, dear reader, have decided that before the end of 2015 I will read and review, on this blog, all 13 Gossip Girl books. Why? I don't know. It might be fun?
I am a huge fan of the TV series and am currently re-watching it for research purposes (I'm taking this feature very seriously) so in a reverse of the usual, I'm actually hoping the books will live up to everything I love about the show. So the plan is to completely lean into that. I'll be using the same headings to divide each review - concentrating on all the most important things from the TV show, like the schemes, parties, and Chuck Bass. If you've watched and loved the show and want to know how it compares to the books without actually reading the books then look no further! This is the feature for you.
So without further ado: my very first Gossip Girl Review.
Have you seen the pilot episode of the TV show? It's basically that. Serena van der Woodsen returns to the Upper East Side to find that her old best friend, Blair Waldorf, no longer wants anything to do with her, Blair's boyfriend, Nate, is still in love with her, and Chuck Bass is as creepy as ever. It also turns out that getting subpar grades, being kicked out of boarding school, and not doing any extra-curricular activities ever do not add up to the best looking college applications. Who'd have guessed?
The plot is pretty much the exact plot of the pilot episode. There are a few differences, particularly in the characters, but apart from Vanessa's short film auditions it's almost scene for scene.
Everyone has siblings! Blair has a little brother, Chuck has a little brother, Eric is Serena's older brother and more frat boy than depressed, closeted teen. Chuck's mum is alive! Serena's dad is there! Vanessa goes to the same school as the other girls and has a shaved head. Dan is 100% emo poetry boy. The Kiss on the Lips party is actually a benefit for an endangered bird that lives in Central Park. But worst of all... Rufus Humphrey is not the kind, ageing rockstar giving sound fatherly advice over homemade waffles. No one could have prepared me for that kind of disappointment.
Fanciest fancy party
The bird party. I think it's still called The Kiss on the Lips party (Confession - I read the book a few weeks ago so can't really remember) but I'm renaming it The Bird Party.
Most conniving scheme
There isn't actually a whole lot of scheming in this one. I'm hoping the schemes will come in more in the later books, but we will just have to wait and see. For now I'll go with Blair encouraging the entire school to believe that Serena was kicked out of boarding school for contracting numerous STDs, falling pregnant, and operating a drug ring from her dorm room. It's not exactly a scheme but it is an impressively elaborate rumour.
What is Chuck Bass up to?
Being SUPER CREEPY. At the start of the TV show Chuck does his fair share of creeping but good lord. If you had told me that season one Chuck was a toned down version of book Chuck I don't think I would have believed you. But now here we are. I will never be able to unread the cheerily described stories of Chuck hiding in wardrobes and massaging Serena's feet.
How off the rails is Jenny Humphrey?
Right now we're in the stage where Jenny is just a misguided teen who will do almost anything to be a part of the In Crowd. However I can definitely see the seeds of the power hungry, sneaky scheming Jenny I know and love.
Join me in a few weeks for the next GG review and to find out if Chuck can possibly get any creepier!
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Thursday, 22 January 2015
Love, Nina is the collection of letters she wrote home gloriously describing her 'domestic' life, the unpredictable houseguests and the cat everyone loved to hate.
I want to read more non-fiction this year and after everything I'd read about Love, Nina I knew it would be the perfect book to start with. And I was right.
Nina Stibbe's letters from her time as a nanny are full of amusing stories about her life as part of the literary-minded household where she cared for two wildly funny young boys. The boys are responsible for most of my favourite stories and conversations, closely followed by the playwright Alan Bennet, who features rather frequently as he lived in the same street and used to pop round for tea most nights.
I've read online that Bennet is not too pleased with the way he's remembered in Stibbe's book but honestly, I think there are far worse ways to be remembered. There is a layer of fondness over every memory mentioned in the book and the people even more so. Stibbe's letters are so funny and endearing it almost makes me want to become a nanny myself. But only if the family were as funny and as lenient with the cleaning as the one Stibbe worked for. It's clear from these letters that Stibbe loved her job and the people she worked for, and that they loved her too.
I honestly don't think there's anything I can say about this book that hasn't already been said dozens of times, but it's an extremely enjoyable read and even if it doesn't make you laugh out loud it's sure to make you smile.
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