Sunday, 25 June 2017

2017 Audiobook Challenge Semi-Annual Update



Hello everyone! It's June already, which means it is time to look back at the reads you've completed so far in 2017 and be amazed by how well (of course ๐Ÿ˜Ž) you've done on all you bookish challenges! 

As you might know, I discovered audiobooks around two years ago now, and I've loved listening to them ever since. I listen to books when I do chores and when I go walking to places, mainly, and I think it's a great way to both read more and to use your time wisely. This year I've surpassed my expectations for the number of audiobooks I've listened to - in fact, more than 40% of the books I've read so far this year are in audiobook format. For the 2017 Audiobook Challenge (hosted by Hot Listens and Caffeinated Book Reviewer), I chose to do the Weekend Warrior level (5-10 audiobooks, specifically setting myself the target of 6 audiobooks), and I've already listened to 5 audiobooks from January to June!

Here is my semi-annual update! 

Note: the cover pictures in this post are linked to their respective Goodreads page

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Cova Reviews ARCs | The Cardinal's Court, by Cora Harrison


Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book via the publisher (The History Press). This does not affect the content of the following review in any way, which expresses my honest opinion on the book

Hello, everyone! Today I bring to you Cora Harrison's new novel, The Cardinal's Court, which will hit bookstores in just a couple of weeks - July 1st this year. It is a historical mystery set in the Tudor medieval time, with real historical characters like Anne Boleyn or Henri VIII, as well as fictional ones like our protagonist - lawyer Hugh Mac Egan. It is the first novel to what is going to be called the Hugh Mac Egan MysteriesUp until this book I hadn't read any fictional works set before the XX century, and I found it very informative. It gave me an itch to look for more historical fiction about this period!

I found Goodreads' synopsis to be quite confusing, to be honest, so I've written a much simpler one myself for you (you're welcome ๐Ÿ˜Ž):

Hugh Mac Egan - an Irish Brehon lawyer who works for the Earl of Northemberland in Ireland, travels to Hampton Court to legally arrange the marriage between the Earl's son, James Butler, and Anne Boleyn. However, when he gets there the Instructor of the Guards is murdered while the King himself is in the palace, and all clues point towards James as the suspected murderer. It is in Hugh's hand to find the real murderer to clear his employer's son of the harsh punishment implemented by the English law of the beginning of the 16th century. 

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Cova Reviews | Caraval, by Stephanie Garber



Hello once more! This post will be a review of this year's release Caraval, by Stephanie Garber. It is a young adult, fantasy novel - the first in a series of books that are still to come. I listened to this book on Audiobook :)

"Remember, it’s only a game…

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away." (Goodreads)

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Top 5 Wednesday 3 | Books for your Hogwarts House

In the Goodreads Group Top 5 Wednesday we're given a topic for each Wednesday of the month, and we are meant to say our top 5 related to the topic. It was created by Lainey, and you can find more information here :)


Books for your Hogwarts House

Hello everyone! This week's T5W is all about Hogwarts - the top 5 books that represent our Hogwarts house. Now, you might think you belong to a certain Hogwarts House because that's the one you like or the one you think you'd fit in best, but truth is you'll never really know unless you've taken Pottermore's House sorting test. Yes, my friends. This page, ran partly by J.K. Rowling herself, is the ultimate tool for you to navigate through the wonders of Harry Potter's magical world. You can get your hands on the one wand meant just for you, and you can even attempt to get into Hogwarts by getting your head under the famous Sorting Hat. Only then you'll know for sure what your Hogwarts House is. 

I have, of course, taken the test, and I was lucky enough for the Sorting Hat to place me in the House I'd always wanted to be in - Gryffindor, the House for the brave and the courageous and the chivalrous. It had to be that one! ๐Ÿ˜


And thus the books I have chosen to include in this post will for the adventurous, the daring, and the brave. Beware!

Cover pictures are linked to their respective Goodreads page.

The Name of the Wind - Patrick Rothfuss


Oh, but of course I had to talk about The Name of the Wind! This fantastic (and I use here both meanings of the word) novel is a wonder every Gryffindor should read. It is set in a made-up, medievalish time, with a famous main character that has been hidden away from man knowledge for quite some time now, changing his name and becoming somewhat of a legend. One day, an adventurous writer finds him, and our man decides to tell his magical and exciting story in no more and no less than three days. The Name of the Wind is the first of those three days, being the following two the next two books in the trilogy (the last of which has yet to be published). This is one of my all-time favourite books, and it is full of adventure, magic and courage (perfect for Gryffindor, don't you think?). I freaking love this book, and I encourage you to read is ASAP if you haven't already, because I am sure it will be one of your all-time favourites, too! ;)

Inkworld Trilogy - Cornelia Funke
I have talked about this trilogy on various occasions already, and I think it deserves a spot on this list because of all the creativity that has been put into its development. I read these books around 7 years ago, and they've stayed with me since. They are great books full of adventure and magic, and they will always have a special place in my heart ๐Ÿ’›

The Prince of the Mist - Carlos Ruiz Zafรณn


This one might be slightly off the type of books I've chosen for this post, but it is, nevertheless, just as valid for Gryffindor's library. It is a fantasy novel, but less of fantastic creatures and more of mysterious characters and circumstances. I've added it to the list because of the growth the main character goes through in the novel! A very recommended book by one of my all-time favourite authors :)

Emerald Green - Kerstin Gier


Emerald Green is the last book to The Precious Stone Trilogy, and I've chosen it above the previous two because it's the one that has the most adventure, although really the whole series is about adventure, love and... *drum roll* time travel! I love this trilogy. I also read it a while ago, but it's been stuck with me ever since I did. Also, fun fact, it is the only series to which my mind has a musical piece associated -I read it at the time that I discovered The river flows in you by Yiruma, and because it has no lyrics my mind can sing to, I played it while I read the books. Now, I cannot listen to the song without thinking of the story, nor vice versa. 

Strange the Dreamer - Laini Taylor


I have to admit I have not yet finished reading this book ๐Ÿ˜… It is one of my current reads, but I have read enough to securely confirm that it is worthy of Gryffindor House. It is a fantasy novel, and its main character Lazlo is ever so noble, kind and heroic without even meaning to. It would make the perfect addition to Gryffindor's shelves - even if it's just for Laini Taylor's wonderful writing! 


Do you think these books fit Gryffindor House? Do leave me your links so that I can read what books you talked about in your T5W!



Happy reading!


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Monday, 5 June 2017

Double Giveaway! The Hereafter, by Jessica Bucher



Hello everyone and welcome to this exciting giveaway post! I've been meaning to host a giveaway for some time now, and what better time to do it than the beginning of the summer season, when we all have so much more time to relax and do that which makes us happy - yes, I am talking about reading. Duh ๐Ÿ˜‰

For this special occasion, I have partnered with author Jessica Bucher to give away not only one but two copies of her debut novel The Hereafter - a sweet and unique YA, paranormal novel full of love and adventure. I've talked about this novel a few times over at my blog because I really enjoyed it, and it includes some topics which will definitely have you thinking! You can read my review of The Hereafter here :) 

"Nin has no recollection of her death. 

The things she does remember, like her cruel boyfriend, troubled father, and absent mother, she’d like to forget. 

Dylan doesn’t need to remember his death to know that he deserved it. Who needs memories when you have the scars? 

Sparks ignite when the two, very different, strangers meet. Together they spend one endless summer exploring their new world. Suddenly, their after-lives hold more possibility and promise than their tragic teenage lives ever did.

But no dream lasts forever, and all too soon, harmful memories from their pasts emerge and threaten to tear them apart. Given the chance to change their fates, Nin and Dylan must decide-- life or love.
Weaving through past and present and alternating perspectives, The Hereafter is an emotional journey about young love and second chances." (Goodreads)



Prizes: 

So that everyone can participate, the giveaway prize will consist of the following:
  1. One e-book copy of the book The Hereafter that will be gifted to one (1) lucky winner  (open internationally) - please note a valid Amazon account is needed to retrieve this prize
  2. One paperback copy of the book The Hereafter that will be gifted to one (1) lucky winner who lives in the USA (USA only)
Yes, two giveaways in one! Isn't it the world's luckiest day ๐Ÿ˜ To participate you just have to fill in the Rafflecopter survey below.


Terms and Conditions:

  • To enter either giveaway participants must fill in the Rafflecopter survey below (both winners -International and USA only- will be randomly drawn from the same Rafflecopter gadget)
  • Ends 19th June 2017 at 23:59 GMT
  • Participants can enter only giveaway only
  • Participants with a mailing address in the USA are eligible to enter the International giveaway of one e-book. These participants will no longer be able to participate in the USA only giveaway of one paperback copy
  • Participants who love outside the USA are eligible to enter the USA only giveaway of one paperback copy so long as they can provide a mailing address from within the USA to mail the prize to. These participants will no longer be able to participate in the International giveaway of one e-book
  • The e-book copy will be gifted to the international winner via Amazon, thus a valid Amazon account is needed to retrieve the prize if entering for the International giveaway of one e-book
  • Participants must be 18 years old or older, or else have consent from a parent to participate and give WL and/or author Jessica Bucher their mailing address should they become the winner of the USA only giveaway of one paperback copy
  • The winners will be announced on this post as well as by e-mail by the three days following the closure of the giveaway, and will have 72 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen

Good luck, everybody! ๐Ÿ˜

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Happy reading!




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Saturday, 3 June 2017

Cova Reviews | Salt to the Sea, by Ruta Sepetys


Hello everyone! It's time for a new book review :) You'd be rare if you didn't already know about Ruta Sepetys' multiple award-winning young adult, historical fiction novel Salt to the Sea. At least, if you frequent the page Goodreads, you'll know it won last year's (2016) Goodreads Choice Award for young Adult Fiction. It had such a good reception I had to read it! Moreover, I listened to it on audiobook -thus it contributes to the 2017 Audiobook Challenge I am taking part in!

"Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.
Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.
As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.
Yet not all promises can be kept.
Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope." (Goodreads)

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Top 5 Wednesday 2 | Fandoms you are no longer in



In the Goodreads Group Top 5 Wednesday we're given a topic for each Wednesday of the month, and we are meant to say our top 5 related to the topic. It was created by Lainey, and you can find more information here :)

Fandoms you are no longer in. 

I have never really been a fandom girl. I like what I like, I ship who I like, I talk about it a lot with my friends and that's about it. I recently said I am very bad at remembering character names and stories not so long after I read them, and thus I guess that's part of the reason why I tend to enjoy stuff and then move on to the next stuff I enjoy :P (Hope that makes sense!).

Nevertheless, I have loved some books/authors/fictional couples that I've later come to "forget", if that counts as fandoms I am no longer in. Here's my list! All pictures are linked to their Goodreads page :)

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Top 5 Wednesday 1 | Favourite Minor Characters


Hello guys! I joined the Top 5 Wednesday community on Goodreads not long ago, but because of exams I couldn't start it. So here we are now that I finished the semester! In Top 5 Wednesday we're given a topic for each Wednesday of the month, and we are meant to say our top 5 related to the topic. It was created by Lainey, and you can find more information here :)

This week's topic is... 

Favourite Minor Characters

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

More new books than my shelves can handle!


Hello, guys! I've been away for some time now due to exams period in uni. I forgot to write a blog post about it, although I did tweet it and kept updating my exams status ๐Ÿ˜… They were hard and painful, but I got through them and I AM BACK! I've been quietly buying too many books lately, so I thought what better way to return strong than telling you guys what awesome new reads I've acquired :P I am calling it "Spring Bookhaul", though  really it's everything from the start of the year which I haven't shared in my blog yet hehe

Let's do this!

The following books are in no particular order. I just added them as I remembered. Hope you enjoy it! :D

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Cova Reviews | Famous by Default - MK Harkins


Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book for review via NetGalley. This does not in any away affect the truthfulness of the following statement, which reflects my honest opinion on the novel

Hello, guys! Hope everything's going well :) This week's post will be a review of Famous by Default, by M.K. Harkins. It is a light young adult, contemporary novel about love, loss and finding oneself.
"Jax
Buried,By my family's fame.Dying to escape the limelight,And finally, I do.
Being raised as a Jayne, I'm under constant scrutiny. The rock band my brothers formed makes it impossible to stay under the radar. Paparazzi, tabloids, rabid fans--you name it and I've got it. It all makes me sick. But getting shipped off to crazy Aunt Betty's house in my senior year of high school isn't any better. After all, there isn't a stray kid or pet in the world that my aunt wouldn't take in.
Then I meet her. She's cautious, suspicious, and not interested in me at all. But that's fine by me. Sivan Holt may be beautiful and intelligent, but she's nothing I'm looking for.

Sivan
Drowning,In my past.Struggling to feel settled.And finally, I do.
Growing up in the foster care system, I longed for a sense of belonging. All I wanted was a place to call home.At the age of seventeen, I'm finally starting to feel it here. Home.
When he comes along, it unsettles me. I don't want him to ruin everything we've built--everything that matters. Jax Jayne is arrogant, privileged, and I want nothing to do with him. But those green eyes of his keep drawing me in. If I let down my walls, will it be my final undoing?" (Goodreads)
I have to say I was a bit let down by this book. Honestly, reading this synopsis already kind of lets you know what to expect. What you see there is what you get. It is the type of YA, contemporary novels that I was reading when I thought I didn't like contemporary YA (thank you, Jenny Han, for opening my eyes!). Typical story: a troubled girl and a troubled guy that randomly fall on the other's path and instantly detest each other until they suddenly are attracted to one another, while they still think they should hate each other because of all the awful reasons they hated them before. This kind of books may have background variations, but, at the end of the day, they all tell the same story.

I think Famous by Default had great potential. The "background story" I mentioned before is interesting: Sivan's story is heart-breaking, and Jax's is definitely refreshing (at least I hadn't read any book whose main character has been affected collaterally by fame). However, I don't think the author has made the most out of her great ideas. I found the story to lack substantial depth to it. Once you finish it, it feels like it was all the time about how I feel about her, the great looks of him, what she told me this morning, etc., although really it does cover a lot more topics - friendship, trust, love, overcoming one's fears, etc. I think the reason why these go "unnoticed" is because it's as if they'd been pasted into the story - they don't quite flow.  I got the impression that the author had wanted them to be in her book and thus wrote about them (does that make sense? Of course authors include in their books what they want to include, but usually you don't realise it?). Another point to take into account is the fact that every problem they encounter seemed to resolve perfectly for them, which is exasperating sometimes...

About the characters, you do see some character development -especially about Jax (although, again, I though it was quite rushed). I really liked and admired aunt Betty - she's such a kind, loving and respectful woman. She's true to herself, which you don't tend to find in adult characters in YA. I liked Sivan's character -I appreciated that the author made her fragile, because, although I always love strong, empowering female characters, this one's gone through a lot, and many times people (not just women) end up like her -which makes her seem more real. The book shows that, however hard it may seem, you do get through hard situations -which is an important message. On the other hand, I do not feel Sivan learns at a pace that corresponds to what she lives. 

The writing, I am not really a fan of. The author obviously wanted to make the dialogues "teenagery", but I wasn't quite into it. I read the contraction "kinda" way too many times in this book! Also, as I've said before, I missed well-planned transitions. 

Also, something that struck me as strange is that before starting the narration the author gives you a pretty cool playlist. You're not given any indications, but I figured I was meant to listen to them as they came up in the book or as I was told, but I never got any queue except for one of the songs, and thus the playlist was left unlistened. That was odd!

Towards the end of the book, I started enjoying it slightly more (once I accepted its flaws, I guess), but I think if I hadn't been given it for review, I would have considered quitting reading it. I was debating whether to give Famous by Default a 2.5 or a 3, and I actually changed my mark on Goodreads a couple of times. I will give it a 2.5.

I did not know about MK Harris before Famous by Default. Has any of you read any other of her books and can tell me what they thought about them?



Happy reading!



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Sunday, 23 April 2017

Cova Reviews | The Hereafter, by Jessica Bucher


Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book for review via NetGalley. This does not in any away affect the truthfulness of the following statement, which reflects my honest opinion on the novel


Hello, everyone! Today I bring to you a review of the book The Hereafter, by Jessica Bucher. It is a great new adult, paranormal novel, a stand-alone (at least, so far) about death, love, faith and consequences.  I was lucky enough to be granted this book for review, and I am so happy I was! It was published independently by the author, and it honestly changed my mind about self-published works. It came out last month, March 16th.
"Nin has no recollection of her death. The things she does remember, like her cruel boyfriend, troubled father, and absent mother, she’d like to forget. Dylan doesn’t need to remember his death to know that he deserved it. Who needs memories when you have the scars? Sparks ignite when the two, very different, strangers meet. Together they spend one endless summer exploring their new world. Suddenly, their after-lives hold more possibility and promise than their tragic teenage lives ever did.But no dream lasts forever, and all too soon, harmful memories from their pasts emerge and threaten to tear them apart. Given the chance to change their fates, Nin and Dylan must decide-- life or love.Weaving through past and present and alternating perspectives, The Hereafter is an emotional journey about young love and second chances." (Goodreads)
First of all, this synopsis really got me. It is a book whose protagonists are dead! I think I'd never read any books with dead main characters before (I've read The Graveyard Book, but actually the main character is the only one who isn't dead!). That was refreshing!


I found the story to be quite unique. It starts off very mysteriously, and you don't really know what is going on (because the characters don't either). There are a lot of flashbacks in this book, which I found entertaining. It's a way for the author to explain what has led the characters to the situation they are in without them telling, which is quite cool. However, because the characters remember things from their past bit by bit, I did not really understand whether what you learn from the flashbacks they remember as you're told it. Sometimes it did seem that way, but I felt like other times they didn't take that part of their stories into account. 

The writing was easy to follow, and the story well built. It has quite a surprising plot twist, although I think the author could have written an even more shocking transition - I felt like she told me something I wasn't sure she was telling me, and then she confirmed it instead of just letting out the bomb. I was nice, still, don't get me wrong!

About the characters, I really came to love both protagonists! I love that the author brought their true selves in their afterlife. They feel genuine. I also really liked Dylan's preschool teacher - she represents such an important figure in a child's life. Moreover, the main characters' families are not sugar-coated, which I really appreciated; The Hereafter does not intend to hide the cruelty of reality. I am very grateful that mental health was represented in such a smooth, natural and honest way. As a medical student, I think we are not exposed enough to what mental disorders really are and what brutal effects they can have if not handled correctly - and even if we do try and take care of them, there are just some things we cannot control. In addition, this novel also includes the topic of how upbringing affects how people turn out to be when they grow older, which is another issue parents are not sufficiently talked about. The significance of it is outstandingly presented in this book, especially for the audience it tries to reach. I hugely respect Jessica Bucher for all the important messages she shares in her book. 

The ending (no spoilers, worry not ๐Ÿ˜‰) brings up a point I had been thinking about throughout the whole book and that I thought it missed. Although I understand that was not the point of the book, I still think it could have been explored more broadly as it rapidly comes to mind. Nevertheless, it was satisfying for me! 

Overall, you can see that I really enjoyed this novel! I had rather high expectations of it and it definitely met them :) I really recommend this novel if you're looking for something light that will have you hooked. I'd say it's a very good choice to snap out a reading slump!


Had you heard of this book before? What do you think of it? Leave me a comment!



Happy reading!



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Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Mystery Blogger Award


mystery1

Hello, guys! I've been away for some weeks now because I had so many things to do - and my exams are coming up, so I'll be away some more in a couple of week's time :( I'm sorry!

Anyway, I was nominated by Shouni @ Through the Book Portal for the Mystery Blogger Award, which was created by Okoto Enigma. Thanks so much! :D Here are the rules:

THE RULES:
  • Put the award logo/image on your blog
  • List the rules
  • Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  • Mention the creator of the award and provide a link to their blog as well
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  • You have to nominate 10-20 people
  • Notify each of your nominees by commenting on their blog
  • Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  • Share your link to your best post(s)

THREE THINGS ABOUT ME

1. I am generally able to smell things that people don't usually smell, like winter smell (which I guess is less rare) or Sunday smell (not food-related)

2. I have friends of at least 35 different nationalities (I went to two different international schools and I am taking an international program at uni)

3. I have a twin sister who looks nothing like me :P

SHOUNI'S QUESTIONS

1. What book have you re-read the most and why?
That would have to be The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss - not because I love the book (which I really do - it's one of my all-time favourites), but because I've tried so many times to read the second book to the trilogy, so I wanted to prepare myself by reading the first one, but for some reason or another I never manage to do it! I read the first book every summer (which is quite long, let me tell you), and then I never get to the second book!

2. If you had to change your name to a character’s name, who would you pick?
Probably I would be Persephone because I just found it so funny that I'd never heard that name in my life and then suddenly I was reading two books at the same time which had a character named Persephone in them. And also it is pretty :D

3. If you could shape shift into any animal, what would you be?
I think I would be either a dolphin because they are smart and live in the sea or a kangaroo because I love how they carry their babies around :P

4. Say you have the power to get rid of a certain item from the world (books, phone, toilet paper, etc), what item would you want to get rid of.
LOL Who would get rid of toilet paper? I think I would get rid of queues. They're just so annoying! Also, I would get rid of tobacco - I just can't stand being near someone who is smoking, and I cannot understand why people would harm themselves for something that doesn't even taste good.

5. Random (even though most of my questions are already kind of random): You now have 10 chimpanzees as your servants. What would you make them do?
I would make some of them do me a full-body massage (head included!) while others make me orange juice and natural face masks (given they already know how to do all those things). Massages are the best!!

MY QUESTIONS

1. Name a book series you finished just because you had already invested a lot of time on it but really should have left it a long time ago.

2. What character in a book you've read would you like to be if you could swap back to being yourself whenever you wanted?

3. What is your favourite piece of clothing (in general, scarfs, shirts, etc.)?

4. How many languages do you speak fluently and what are they?

5. Weird question: would you rather have to sing whenever you wanted to say something or have to go everywhere running? Why?


And this is my part of the Mystery Blogger Award! I now tag:




Happy reading!



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