Sunday, 21 August 2016

DNF: The Dark Days Club, and my feelings on DNF'ing

Okay so, I know The Dark Days Club was released in January, I know I received an ARC of it, and I know a review should be up by now. Except, I didn't finish it. I couldn't finish it, and I was too scared to say so.

Maybe there's a stigma to not finishing a book, especially one you've requested, I'm not sure, but I definitely felt bad for not finishing a book I requested. I felt so bad I had to keep putting it off, saying 'oh, I might try to carry on next week', until now when I've finally had the guts to say;

It didn't work for me.

I was really intrigued by this book, by both the blurb, the idea, and the fact that I loved the author's previous book, Eon. But the fact is, although these things drew me to requesting the book, these are the same things that would have made me buy it in the bookstore. If I'd have bought it in the bookstore however, and hadn't been able to finish it, I wouldn't have felt bad.

So why do I feel bad about review books?

Because, simply, they're for promotion, and I can't promote a book I didn't finish. But it's a known, obvious fact that we - as one person - cannot like every book we pick up. That's impossible. The fact that I didn't enjoy this book, that the pace annoyed me and I just didn't feel that pull to continue and find out what happened next, doesn't come from it being a review book, and I have to start remembering that.

Whether I will like a review book is speculative, just as with any book. I can't force myself to like it just because I've requested it, just as with any book. Requesting a book and enjoying it are two separate things. I will always hope that I will enjoy a review book, because I requested it because I was looking forward to it, because I wanted to read it, but if I don't then that's simply unfortunate. It's not something I should feel bad about.

So, although I was very excited to read The Dark Days Club in the beginning, I have to say - once and for all - that it wasn't the book for me. I do thank Walker for the beautiful ARC, and maybe I will give it a second chance down the line, but for now I have to say goodbye, and just as with anything in life, I can't feel bad for doing what's right for me.

Another day, another book.

Holly @TheArtsShelf

Positivity!

I'm not great sometimes for being positive. Sometimes I let myself get so weighed down by stuff. But I'm trying to change that, and in order to start I'm thinking of the top five positive things in my life right now.

I'm calling it #ThePositivityTag

Please do feel free to post your own and share it around; sometimes the world needs more positivity.

1) My Family.

I have an amazing family, both by blood and choice, including two amazing best friends and my fabulous boyfriend, and I really am thankful for every one of them. I wouldn't be who I am today without them.

2) My Goals.

Although my goals are sometimes the source of my stress, the fact that I have them - that I'm reaching for something - is also a source of joy and positivity. I know where I want to go and I'm determined to get there.

3) Disneyland Paris.

Holiday booked for myself and my boyfriend and I couldn't be happier. Disney is a constant source of joy in my life and I'm more than happy to be going back.

4) Arwen - The Super Hamster.

Whenever I feel anything other than happy, my little ball of fluff is always there to give me a cuddle. I'm so glad to have her in my life, even if she keeps me awake sometimes with her bar gnawing.

5) Books.

Maybe a little generic, but books really are a good source of positivity. Being whisked away to another world, if only for an hour, really does wonders for the heart, mind and soul.

What are your own positives? Feel free to write your own post using the hashtag, post in the comments below, or let me know on Twitter.

Holly @TheArtsShelf

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

WoW: A Collection of Anticipated Reads

Okay. So I know I've been pretty bad at posting my WoW's, but to be fair I've had work and been on holiday, so maybe I get a pass? Either way, I've decided this week to post about my top 5 anticipated reads, to make up for the last few weeks. Sound fair? Good.

1) Roseblood - A G Howard

If you know me, you know I love retellings, and Phantom is one of my favourite musicals. So yes, I am very excited for January to roll around.

2) Frost Like Night - Sara Raasch

One of my utmost favourite series' and I really need to know how it ends! Shipping Meira and Theron all the way!

3) 12 Days of Dash and Lily - Levithan/Cohn

My friend introduced me to Dash and Lily and I've never looked back since. I totally need to have this next instalment in my life. Many hearts for it already.

4) The Scarecrow Queen - Melinda Salisbury

You know of my love for this series. I've been pretty obvious about it. After the cover reveal at YALC and meeting Mel for the second time, I'm desperate to know how it ends. Please let Merek be happy...

5) The Battlemage - Taran Matharu

Again, another one of my favourite series' where I really do need to know what happens next! Taran's cliffhangers are simply just too awesome.

So those are my five most anticipated reads! What are yours? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter.

Thanks for reading!

Holly @TheArtsShelf

Saturday, 6 August 2016

When A Book Stays With You (Long After It's Finished)

Have you ever read that book that you can't stop thinking about? Weeks pass, months even, but it's still stuck in your head? Those feelings are still bubbling just beneath the surface and you wish more than anything that you could go back and read it for the first time again?

Alexia Casale's House of Windows was that for me.

If you've read my review you'll know how much I related to the main character, Nick. His experiences in education were much like mine, and maybe that's part of the reason the story has stuck with me so much.

But it's not the whole reason.

I think the real reason is because it's so true, and I'm not talking about the fact that it lacked dragons and mythical beings (though Gosswin was something...). Though House of Windows is a contemporary tale, what makes it feel so true is Casale's writing. It's so raw and powerful that you can't not feel for Nick's plight. It's impossible not to be drawn into the world of Cambridge that Casale has painted, to feel so utterly drawn into the tale that it's almost like you're living it yourself. From beginning to end it is completely evocative of real life.

That is why House of Windows has stuck with me and, I'm sure, will continue to stick with me for a long time yet. If you haven't read it, I urge you to do so now.

Thanks for reading. Have any stories stuck with you for a long period? Let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Monday, 1 August 2016

Blog Tour: Review of Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby.

I received a gorgeous copy of this wonderful book from the lovely Harper360, and have the pleasure of being the first stop on the equally wonderful blog tour! This however in no way affects my opinion or rating.

When Quinn Sullivan meets the recipient of her boyfriend’s donated heart, the two form an unexpected connection.
After Quinn loses her boyfriend, Trent, in an accident their junior year, she reaches out to the recipients of his donated organs in hopes of picking up the pieces of her now-unrecognizable life. She hears back from some of them, but the person who received Trent’s heart has remained silent. The essence of a person, she has always believed, is in the heart. If she finds Trent’s, then maybe she can have peace once and for all. 
Risking everything in order to finally lay her memories to rest, Quinn goes outside the system to track down nineteen-year-old Colton Thomas—a guy whose life has been forever changed by this priceless gift. But what starts as an accidental run-in quickly develops into more, sparking an undeniable attraction. She doesn't want to give in to it—especially since he has no idea how they're connected—but their time together has made Quinn feel alive again. No matter how hard she’s falling for Colton, each beat of his heart reminds her of all she’s lost…and all that remains at stake.



If I was asked to describe this book in three words, it would be this;

Beautiful, elegant, passionate.

Beautiful prose.

Elegantly crafted story.

Passionate characters and even more so the author.

This book was everything I wanted, expected, it to be and more. I readily anticipated a book about love and heartbreak, grief and betrayal, woven in with more secrets than you can count on one hand. What I didn't expect was a book that presented so many poignant points about how fragile - precious - life is but that at the same time so many of us are afraid to live it. A book that not only reminded me what it means to live - to be truly alive - but that made me also realise that no matter the situation or the fear, standing still is never an option. We live to love, and we should love to live.

Thought provoking matter aside though, Things We Know By Heart was also an amazing read. I truly felt for both Quinn and Colton, for both their motivations and their downfalls. They were, are, truly complex characters and they were a joy to read about. Thoughtful, kind hearted Colton - determined to use his second chance for all its worth - was a great 'yin' to broken but passionate Quinn's 'yang'. Their chemistry was simply amazing, and while we didn't get to see much of Quinn's relationship with Trent, it's no wonder why these two fall for each other. There were so many moments where I was truly swooning where I sat. The supporting characters were also wonderful, not just plot devices to push our two main characters forward but truly unique, real people who brought so much more to an already amazing story. It was like watching reality tv in a sense; two 'real' families thrown together by heartbreak and tragedy. Both Quinn and Colton's sisters were especially fabulous.

I really just loved how the author weaved tragedy with light humour, romance with drama. In some scenes one simple flip of the page had the whole scene or story turn on its head, the atmosphere changing like a swiftly moving storm cloud. 

In one simple word, this book was;

Perfect.

In every way.

Things We Know By Heart has not only left me wanting more, but thinking about how I live my life and what I could do better; what I could take more chances on. It's very easily one of my all time favourite contemporaries and perhaps one of my favourite books of 2016. I give it a well deserved 5* and recommend this magical, inspiring, yet heartbreaking read to everyone. It certainly holds some truths we all should know.

Thanks for reading!

Holly