Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Book Review: The Sisters of the Winter Wood Sampler by Rena Rossner

The Sisters of the Winter Wood Sampler by Rena Rossner

*Warning – may contain spoilers*

Author: Rena Rossner

Publisher: Orbit

First published: 2018

Edition: Illumicrate Sampler

Pages: 28 

Blurb: Every family has a secret … and every secret tells a story.

 In a remote village surrounded by forests on the border of Moldova and Ukraine, sisters Liba and Laya have been raised on the honeyed scent of their Mami’s babka and the low rumble of their Tati’s prayers. But when a troupe of mysterious men arrives, Laya falls under their spell – despite their mother’s warning to be wary of strangers. As dark forces close in on their village, Liba and Laya discover a family secret about a magical heritage they never knew existed. The sisters realise the old fairy tales are true … and could save them all.

History of my copy: I received this sample within an Illumicrate box.


This is only a review of the sampler, not of the whole book, which I have not read.

Plot: This sample includes the first 7 chapters of Rena Rossner’s debut novel, The Sisters of the Winter Wood. We meet the main characters, Liba and Laya, in their forest home with their parents, in what seems like an ordinary world. However, it climaxes with Liba discovering that Mami can turn into a swan, and Tati into a bear, along with the assumption that her and Laya can too.

Setting: Although the writing is a bit cliché in places, it is descriptive. However it feels quite forced, with embellishments added simply for the sake of it.

Characters: Nothing much stands out about the characters from this sample, apart from the familiar trope that one child is exactly like the father, and the other a mirror of the mother which are, unsurprisingly, polar opposites of each other. Liba feels very young and childish, and perhaps she is, but I can’t see how they become the main characters of the book, unless there is a time jump that occurs in the full story.


To read or not to read: Not read. I had high hopes for this book from the blurb. It might not have been set in a location I would typically go for, but I do like books which are based around fairytales. However, this one fell flat. The writing style didn’t feel very refined, and the contrast between Liba’s chapters being text and Laya’s being poem confused me further. This is likely expanded on in the full story, but the sampler did not leave me itching to buy the book.


Friday, 30 August 2019

Book Review: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Wintersong – S. Jae-Jones

*Warning – may contain spoilers*

Author: S. Jae-Jones
Publisher: Titan Books
First published: 2017
Edition: First edition paperback
Pages: 508

Blurb:    All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her spirit and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen, Liesl can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.
But when her sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl must journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds – and the mysterious man who rules it – she soon faces an impossible decision. With time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.

History of my copy: Wintersong was the featured book of the 6th Illumicrate box, from February 2017. See my unboxing post here. It came with a letter from S. Jae-Jones, a bookmark and a signed bookplate.

Wintersong isn’t the sort of book I would pick up for myself to read, despite my love of music and its obvious connections to that. However, I absolutely adored it, and that is one of my favourite things about book boxes – being introduced to books that I wouldn’t normally read.

Plot: Wintersong follows Liesl, the eldest of 3 siblings, who is overlooked by everyone. Her sister is kidnapped by the Goblin King to become his bride in a retelling of Labyrinth. Liesl’s job is to save her, without getting lost in the Underworld herself. However, that is easier said than done. After all, the Goblin King is still looking for his Queen…

Setting: As you can gather, a large part of the book is set in the Underground home of the Goblin King. I’ve never read a book where the setting, which should be so desolate, was so simply enchanting. Despite the savagery that comes with the goblins, the whole book is so beautifully described that you can’t help but fall a little bit in love with it all.

Characters: I related to Liesl so much she is my favourite. She had so many issues that are delved deep into throughout the story. She’s a composer but is told to ‘grow up’ and ‘focus on other things’ whilst being lost against her beautiful sister and brilliant musical brother. Whilst I tend to get a little fed up of the ‘selfless heroine who is constantly in the shadows but is actually super lovely and talented’, I couldn’t help but adore Liesl.
                I also loved the character of the Goblin King. Sorry not sorry but I’m an absolute sucker for a bad guy that is just lost underneath it all. I like villains that aren’t true villains, enemies that you can learn to love, and the Goblin King is one of them. This book is just as much about them finding each other as it is about them finding themselves.

To read or not to read: Read. Read. Read. I absolutely adored this book!

Monday, 4 March 2019

Complete Anatomy Colouring Book Part 2

The next part of the colouring book featured the spinal cord and spinal nerves.

Again, you can see that I've used the crayola pencils to create a bright, colourful schematic to help me identify which parts are which. 

| Part 1 |

Monday, 25 February 2019

Book Review: The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

The DUFF – Kody Keplinger

*Warning – may contain spoilers*
Image result for the duff book cover
Author: Kody Keplinger
Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books
First published: 2010
Edition: Paperback with movie cover
Pages: 341

Blurb:    Seventeen-year old Bianca Piper may not be the prettiest girl at school, but she has a loyal group of friends, biting wit, and a spot-on BS detector. She’s also too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut Wesley. But when he casually refers to Bianca as the Duff of her crew – the designated ugly fat friend – the gloves are off!
But things aren’t so great at home and Bianca, desperate for a distraction, ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it, and before she knows it she’s in a secret enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.
Until it all goes horribly wrong. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.    

History of my copy: I picked up The DUFF at a charity book sale for only 50p. It’s not my usual sort of book, but I received a copy of the film so I knew I had to read it before watching it…

I only took 5 days to read The DUFF, which is pretty good going for me! With uni and work, I don’t have much time to read so I’m quite impressed with how quick I read it.

Plot: The basic plot of this book is that Bianca ends up secretly getting with Wesley, a complete douche who has always been a bit mean to her. Lo-and-behold, then end up falling for each other, since they used to be good friends when they were younger. It’s simply a straight forward, generic story of a ‘complicated’ high school romance.

Setting: The book is set in America and I don’t think there was anything particularly remarkable about it.

Characters: To be quite honest, none of the characters really stood out. Bianca was okay as a character, had a bit of depth, but her narrative got annoying quickly. All attempts to make Wesley a little more 2D just seemed to make him even more cliché than before.

To read or not to read: Don’t read. Whilst a small part of me enjoyed the book as an easy-to-read, high-school romance, it was certainly nothing special.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Illumicrate Number 8 Unboxing (August 2017)

Continuing my Illumicrate unboxing theme, this is my unboxing of the 8th box from August 2017.

Check Illumicrate out here!

As you can see, the box is full of goodies, including two books!

Silly me forgot to take a photo of the packing list, so here is what was included:
- Copy of Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo with red sprayed edges and a pin badge
- Red Church Tea
- Shakespeare zip bag
- Wisdom journal
- Alethiometer coaster
- Sticky bookmarks
- Extras: Ringer bookmark, After the Fire bookmark, The Bear and the Nightingale bookmark, Moxie badges, Nyxia arc and bookmark

I will admit that I wasn't too keen on the book choice. I'm not a DC fan, but I will give the book a go.

This tea, quite simply, ruined my life. It got me into loose-leaf tea which has cost me a bomb, but I love it. This tea was delicious!

I use this cute little pouch as a book case for any smaller paperback books I'm reading, so that they don't get damaged in my bag.
This is a cute little dot grid notebook which I am sure I will use at some point!
This coaster is gorgeous! Although I haven't finished His Dark Materials, I do love the books and this lovely golden coaster has a special place on my desk to hold my coffee mug.
I adore this book jar! Although it's actually a money box, I'm eventually going to use it to store the names of all my TBR books so that I can pick my next read randomly from it.

I'm not someone who annotates books as I read them, but I'm sure I'll put these cute sticky notes to use when doing university work!

I love the bookmarks Illumicrate adds! They give me ideas of new books to buy, and are cute essentials.

I love to match the bookmark to the book I am currently reading, so that I use all the bookmarks I own (and it aesthetically pleases me...)

Like bookmarks, the postcards are a cute addition, especially ones that advertise books.

Another bookmark!
I'm not a pin badge person, but I do think they're cute! Illumicrate has since (spoiler alert) included a badge banner, and I can't wait to fill it!
Nyxia was the ARC included. I can't wait to read it!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, 26 October 2018

Book Review: The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis

The Magician’s Nephew – C.S. Lewis

*Warning – may contain spoilers*

The Magician's Nephew (Chronicles of Narnia, #6)Author: C.S. Lewis
Publisher: Lions
First published: 1955
Edition: Paperback as part of a box set
Pages: 171
Blurb:    The whole adventure begins when Digory and Polly find themselves in eccentric Uncle Andrew’s secret study. But when Uncle Andrew tricks Polly into touching the magic ring, she vanishes into the Other World. Digory is aghast, and determines immediately to go in search of her. Not only does he find Polly but together they listen to Aslan’s song as he creates the enchanted world of Narnia, full of sun, trees, flowers, grass and animals.
History of my copy: The Chronicles of Narnia has been one of those series that I have always wanted to read for a very long time, but I just never got around to picking them up. At a car boot sale, a man was selling nearly his entire book collection as he was moving to Canada and didn’t want the cost of transporting them all. I ended up getting the 1990 box set for £2.50.

Plot: I will admit that I was initially thrown by this book. When I started the Chronicles of Narnia, I expected the story I was familiar with (The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe), but obviously this book chronicles the beginning and creation of Narnia by Aslan, which took me a little while to realise. So, this book follows Digory and Polly as they are tricked into the Woods Between Worlds by Digory’s Uncle. Ending up in another world, Charn, they accidently awaken the evil Jadis. She flees, later becoming the White Witch, and Digory ends up helping Aslan, and subsequently creates a wardrobe out of magical wood…

Setting: One thing that Lewis does particularly well, and I feel like he is renowned for, is his scene setting. The imagery in this book, and I imagine in the rest of the series, is very vivid and it feels as if you are truly there.

Characters: One criticism I do have with this book is that none of the characters were particularly interesting. I didn’t feel attached, or even any dislike, to any of the characters and now, a little while after reading the book, I can’t even remember anything remarkable about any of them.

To read or not to read: Don’t read. Unless you are a huge Narnia fan, I don’t really recommend it. This book did nothing for me, apart from perhaps giving a little insight into the creation of Narnia.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Dog Walks: Kit Hill

Kit Hill - 16/08/18

One of the historic buildings included on the walk
I took Evie to a dog show in St Dominick a couple Sundays ago, and she did me proud winning 2nd in both most cuddliest dog and best sporting dog!

Got a little bit closer for this one...
After the show, we popped back to Kit Hill for a quick run around the stack at the summit. Although I used to go there quite regularly, I hadn't been for years and so I added it to my list of places to take Evie.
Evie enjoys posing
We did the circular walk starting from the bottom car park that goes up to the shaft then down around the quarry before heading back to the start. It takes about 2 hours to do, although I stopped to take lots of photos in the process.

The shaft
We really enjoyed our walk around the hill exploring all the old mining buildings.

The shaft up close
The view from the top is quite breathtaking

Proper poser...

Evie is good off the lead and sticks to the path, which is good as it is known for adders and mine shafts...

Suitable footwear is required, especially for the second half of the walk, as it got quite rocky.

These little stones guided
the way
Evie had a quick paddle in the quarry

The only complaint I had was that the route wasn't the easiest to follow, and I certainly deviated from the proper path a few times. A few more guide stones would have been useful!

Thanks for reading! Keep your eyes open for our next adventure!

Friday, 10 August 2018

Dog Walks: Colliford Lake and Dozmary Pool

Colliford Lake and Dozmary Pool - 31/07/18

Welcome to my latest post detailing my adventures with Evie! 
Colliford Lake boasts some nice beaches
 Colliford Lake has been on my 'to visit' list for a very long time. As the largest (I think) lake in Cornwall, I have always wanted to go there and see just how big it is in person.

Evie found herself a nice large stick
 Although I've driven past it a few times, and even been to one of the car parks there, I've never actually wandered down to see it!

Surprisingly nice sand for a lake!
 My aim was to actually walk all the way around it but, in hindsight, I'm glad I didn't! The lake is huge, and I even discovered an extra part of it as I drove around to Dozmary Pool.
Found some wild horses

They were very relaxed when faced with Evie and I
Evie loved walking around the lake and was surprisingly well-behaved off the lead.

The lake certainly offered some beautiful photo opportunities

Evie loved it!

Look who found another stick...

The horses even came down for a drink
I only walked for about 45 minutes along the lake, and then back again, but since I've looked on maps how far I went, I'm quite surprised!

Maybe one day I will pack a bag for us and spend the day walking the entire edge.
After visiting Colliford Lake, I drove around the lake to a little one called Dozmary Pool.

Just from the path down you could see why
this lake is one of legends
 You might remember from some of my previous posts that I am a huge fan of Arthurian legend, and so Dozmary Pool was another legendary place to tick off my list.

Although smaller than Colliford, Dozmary is just as
 Dozmary Pool is the rumoured home of the Lady of the Lake, and the resting place of Excalibur, where it was returned after Arthur's death.

I'm quite jealous of the houses on the edge of the pool!

 At the pool, we found these two dogs that were collar-less and wandering around without an owner... After asking at the nearby houses, I eventually found out that they belonged to the farm up the road.

They were very friendly and Evie adored them! 

 You can certainly see why Dozmary Pool is a place of legends! There was certainly a mystical feel as I walked around the lake.

Thanks for reading! I hope you are enjoying Evie and my adventures!