Saturday, 27 June 2015

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, Sydney Padua- review

A graphic novel debut that transforms one of the most compelling scientific collaborations into an unexpected, and hilarious, series of adventures.

A unique take on the unrealized invention of the computer in the 1830s by the eccentric polymath Charles Babbage and his accomplice, the daughter of Lord Byron, Ada, Countess of Lovelace. When Ada translated her friend Babbage's plans for the "Difference Engine," her lengthy footnotes contained the first appearance of the general computing theory—one hundred years before an actual computer was built. Sadly, Lovelace died of cancer a few years after publishing the paper, and Babbage never built any of his machines. But now Sydney Padua gives us an alternate reality in which Lovelace and Babbage do build the Difference Engine, and then use it to do battle with the American banking system, the publishing industry, their own fears that their project will lose funding, and a villainous street musician who will force the two friends to reevaluate their priorities—"for the sake of both London and science."

When I heard about this I was super excited, I love anything Victorian and these two people seem to have such character. When I got it the excitement continued, this book is so gorgeous! Its a naked hardback with a cloth bound spine and the illustrations are awesome! I read this during round 5 of #RYBSAT and it was a nice quick read for that kind of thing. For me there were basically two parts to this book- the graphic novel part and then the informative, math part. Sometimes they mixed but those were the aspects.

I really enjoyed the graphic novel part, it was very amusing, the art as I said was really good. Lovelace and Babbage as well as the other characters were so alive and vivid. I really enjoyed the little "guest stars" in this- Queen Victoria, the Duke of Wellington, Dickens, Florence Nightingale, Marian Evans (George Eliot), Elizabeth Gaskell even Jane Austen. It was full of these big figures with their quirks :) I really like how though I learnt a lot but when it came to the story it was all fun it was a good balance.

The "informative" aspect was mainly through gigantic footnotes, endnotes and then the Appendix at the end of the book. I found it all interesting but I have to admit that a lot of maths and science went over my head, i think I grasp a fair amount but far from all of it. Another thing that I struggled with when it came to this part was the layout. A couple of times the pictures went into the writing but then main problem I had was that the footnotes weren't a normal two or three lines it could be an entire page in this tiny, tiny font making it very hard to read. Also at first I got very confused how to read it there were numbers and references to the appendix but I didn't know where they were but in the end I just went page by page and ignored that the footnotes have footnotes themselves.

Overall it was enjoyable and I found it very interesting even though it was more complex than I expected  in places. I loved the graphic novel side and in then it was a fun read that I gave 3 stars.
Speak soon,

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Read-O-Rama TBR

Hello :) Yes I have just done a readathon but I want to take part in this one too.

This is the 2nd round of Read-O-Rama but my 1st time taking part, it is hosted by a number of people all of which you will find on the twitter- @readorama. It starts on 28th June and finishes on 4th July and there are 6 challenges which I will aim to complete:
  • Read 7 books
  • Read a fantasy book
  • Read a book with blue on the cover
  • Read a middle grade book 
  • Read an ebook/audiobook
  • Read a book that you can make RAMA out of its title and/or author
And the books I'm planning to read are: 
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas
  • The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan (yet to buy)
  • The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
  • The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot (audiobook)
  • If I Stay by Gayle Forman 
  • The Ring and the Crown by Melissa De La Cruz
  • The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E Smith
It will be a push to finish all of these but I want to at least finish all the challenges apart from the 1st one, let me know your goals!
Speak soon,
Jade xx

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

#Rainbowthon Wrap-up

Hello lovely readers! Today I am wrapping-up the #Rainbowthon which took place last week and was hosted by the Carpe Librum girls. The aim was to read a rainbow and I very nearly got there, I read every colour apart from red, I read a total of 862 pages and finished 4 books:
  • The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide. I gave this 2 stars, I could tell it was well written but I found it boring, an entire chapter on a skimmer is not really my cup of tea. This was my green book.
  • Tape by Steven Camden. I gave this 4 stars, it follows a girl in 2013 and a boy in 1993 who are connected by a cassette tape. I love the way these stories were woven together. This was my yellow spine.
  • Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. This was my blue and orange spine and I gave it 3 stars. I enjoyed it and found it very gripping at points, it also has a short story- The Bottle Imp- at the back which I loved.
  • Finally I finished The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J Maas. This is the prequel to the Throne of Glass series and I did enjoy it but nowhere near as much as the 1st book. Also I knew what was coming a the end of this so I did find it difficult to get through. 3 stars. Assassin's Blade was my purple book.
I'm really proud of how much I read even if I didn't stick to my TBR entirely ;) What did you reaad during this last week?
Speak soon, 
Jade xx

Saturday, 20 June 2015

The Old Nurse's Story by Elizabeth Gaskell- Review

A ghostly child roams the Northumberland moors, while fairytale characters gather at a strange party, in these two Victorian gothic tales. Penguin Little Black Classic No. 39

I am a massive lover of Elizabeth Gaskell's writing and her stories, I've read North & South and Cranford so far and have Mary Barton is waiting for me on my shelf. This is the precise reason that as soon as I saw an LBC by her I got my paws on it! Without read the back, I never knew she had written some good old Victorian gothic stories, so it was a surprise when I started reading this, but a nice one. There are two very short stories in her and I enjoyed both of them but I definitely have a favourite.

The first is The Old Nurse's Story, which is about an old nurse telling her charges a ghost story from when she was looking after their mother when she was young in a big old house. This was pretty creepy especially the ending. It has a tiny little family element too which I also like.

The last story is called Curious. if True. This one confused me greatly, a man is walking and when he loses his way he comes across a house that is holding a party. But the guests are a little strange and gradually I began to place them. I just found this a really lovely, amusing and I suppose curious read ;)
 Overall I gave this 3.5 stars and I would recommend it for s
ure, especially if you like Elizabeth Gaskell (though it is a different side to her) and/or Victorian gothic as a genre.
Speak soon,
Jade xx

Friday, 19 June 2015

#Rainbowthon Update

Hello lovelies! It is now day 5 of the Rainbowthon so I thought I'd update you on what I've read these past 4 days :)

On Monday I read The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide and also the start of Tape by Steven Camden. The Guest wasn't really my cup of tea unfortunately and overall I read a total of  176pgs and finished 1 book.

Tuesday was another good day I finished Tape which I enjoyed very much, bringing up my total page count to 469 and 2 books finished.

Wednesday I picked up Assassin's Blade by Sarah J Maas and read 1 of the short stories in it- The Assassin and the Desert. And a tiny bit of Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. My total after that day was 575pgs

Then Yesterday I read another short story from Assassin's Blade and read around half of The Bottle Imp by Robert Louis Stevenson. Meaning my total right now is at 707pgs.

My plans for today are to finish The Bottle Imp and from there read either Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, The Assassin's Blade or Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Hope you are enjoying the Rainbowthon!

Speak soon,
Jade xx

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Shakespeare Summer Challenge!

Hello! So I have decided to to set myself a challenge this summer and that challenge is to read 3 of Shakespeare's plays. The reasons this is that 1 I'm an English student and need to read widely and 2, I say I love Shakespeare but I've only actually read 1 of his plays all the way through, which is Much Ado About Nothing. The 3 plays that I am planning to read this summer are:

  • Love's Labour's Lost- which I saw at the RSC last year but want to read.
  • Romeo and Juliet- obviously I know the story, I've read bits in class and even performed the prologue but never read it.
  • Macbeth- Again the same as R&J, I even used a scene of this in my GCSE coursework!
So they are all plays I am familiar with so I'm hoping to understand them! If you want to join in and pick 3  plays yourself or read some of his poetry that would be awesome and we could fall in love with Shakespeare together!

Speak soon,
Jade xx

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Reading Rainbow Readathon TBR

Hello :) So it's readathon time again! I flippin' love readathons and since the last batch I've been in a bit of a slump so this one came at a great time.

The Reading Rainbow Readathon is hosted by the lovely ladies of Carpe Librum (@carpethislibrum) and runs from 15th-22nd June. The idea is to read a rainbow. You can either read a stack of books each spine being a different colour of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple), if you do this you can have 2 colours in one spine twice so you only have to read 4 books instead of 6. The other way you could pick your TBR is to have a stack of 6 books of all the same colour, a stack of blue, a stack of yellow you get the picture. It sounds super fun and super pretty :) I am going for the 1st TBR and my stack is:
  • Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, Becky Albertalli (red)
  • Lola and the Boy Next Door, Stephanie Perkins (orange)
  • Tape, Steven Camden (yellow & blue)
  • The Guest Cat, Takashi Hiraide (green)
  • The Assassins' Blade, Sarah J Maas (purple)

I will try my hardest to read all this but obviously I'm just going to have fun and not put too much pressure on myself. Look out for an update somewhere in the middle on here and I 'll also posted on twitter & instagram. What is your TBR? 

Speak soon,
Jade xx

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Elizabeth Is Missing, Emma Healey- Review

‘Elizabeth is missing.’ Maud keeps finding notes in her pockets with this message scrawled on it, but she can’t remember writing it. That said, she can’t remember much these days: the time of day, whether she’s eaten lunch, if her daughter’s come to visit, how much toast she’s eaten. Still, the notes about Elizabeth nag at her. When was the last time she spoke with her best friend? It feels like ages ago... Frustratingly, no one seems willing to help Maud find her: not the police nor Elizabeth’s son - not even Maud’s own daughter or granddaughter. It’s like they’re hiding something. Maud resolves to take matters into her own hands, and begins digging for the truth. There are many clues, but unhelpfully, they all seem to point to another unsolved disappearance: that of Maud’s sister Sukey just after the war. Could the mystery of Sukey’s disappearance lead Maud to the truth about Elizabeth? As Maud’s mind retreats into the past at a frightening pace, alienating her from her family and carers, vivid memories of what happened over fifty years ago come flooding back to give her quest new momentum.

Elizabeth is missing was getting a substantial amount of hype and won the Costa book award for first novel last year; this coupled with the blurb (I meaning how intriguing can you get?) meant I was willing to branch out of my comfort zone and try an adult mystery novel. For me there are the 3 parts to this book: 1. The narration 2. The mystery side 3. The family aspect. 

This book is narrated entirely by Maud and her dementia makes her very unreliable, something which I have never experienced before. On one hand it kept things interesting and her thoughts processes kept revealing things little by little while also keeping you completely in the dark. It put me in a very strange place, I felt very out of it and fuzzy, I'm sure how to explain but it was very odd. So I guess that means it was effective  but in a good or bad way, I don't know. 

There are two mysteries for Maud- where is her friend Elizabeth in the present and then a past mystery from when her sister went missing when Maud was around 14-15 if I remember correctly. I found this side super gripping and I could never really predict anything because of the narration. The way these two are intertwined and how they come together at the end (kinda, I don't want to spoil anyone!) was beautifully done and the driving force of the plot. 

I don't have any experience with dementia so I'm no expert but the way it was represented seemed so real and honest and my favourite part of the book was how Emma Healey showed the toll on Maud's daughter and granddaughter, for they, unlike Maud, are fully aware of the situation and they have to live with seeing someone they love lose themselves and look after when she used to look after them. It was very moving.

Overall it was a bit of a mixed bag for me, I liked the mystery side and the family aspect and can tell by my reaction that it was well written but I personally didn't enjoy the experience and so I gave it 2.5 stars. If any of you have read it I would really like to hear your thoughts. 

Speak soon,
Jade xx

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

How I Rate Books

Hello lovely people!

Since I have FINALLY started doing reviews on this blog and have many coming your way soon, I thought I should explain to you how I rate my books so you can understand me better so then you can know if the book is for you :) Does that make sense, I'm not sure if it does...

Anyway for me there are two ways of seeing a book. There is the enjoyment level and then there is the appreciation level. I find sometimes that you can really enjoy a book and find it a great, fun read however it may not be the best writing in the world or you can see that this book has amazing writing and is full of symbolism yet you don't really enjoy it that much; that is the difference between the two. Obviously the best thing would be to both enjoy and appreciate a book but that isn't always the case. What I tend to do when rating from 1-5stars is I try to balance it between the but enjoyment tends to weigh in more because that is the main reason I read. 1 star for me would be that I didn't enjoy or appreciate the book at all, 2 stars would normally mean that I appreciated but didn't necessarily enjoy it, 3 stars means an overall good book, 4 stars equal me really enjoying a book and appreciating it at least a little and then the big 5 stars means that I absolutely loved it on both levels.

It is very rare I give a book less than 3 stars because its very rare that I don't enjoy/appreciate a book, I have problems  with them sure but overall I tend to like most books I read. And when I write a review I will always tell you what I see as good and bad.

Big things I look for and really like in books are complex characters with tons of character develop, I love that stuff, I connect to characters very quickly and emphasise a little too much so characters have a massive effect on my thoughts. A book that is great except for character will only get a 3 maybe 4 at a push.

The aim of this post was to explain to how I rate books and what I really like in books so that you can have a better chance of finding a book that you will like (because we will all see and rate books differently and it is kinda impossible for me to be objective) which is why I do this. I want more people reading, I want to share this passion I have for books and to infect everyone else with it!

I hope you are doing great!
Jade xx

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell- review

Cranford is an affectionate and often moving portrait of genteel poverty and intertwined lives in a nineteenth-century village. One of Elizabeth Gaskell's most beloved works, it centres on a community dominated by women and governed by old-fashioned ways. The formidable Miss Deborah Jenkyns and the kindly Miss Matty's days revolve around card games, tea, thriftiness and an endless appetite for scandal, until change comes into their world - whether it is the modern ideas of Captain Brown, a bank collapse, rumours of burglars or an unexpected reappearance from the past.

Hello! I hope you are having a good day :) During Bout of Books I (mainly) listened to Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell as I got the audiobook from my library but I did follow along/ read some out of my physical book too. I read North and South last year and loved it, I also adore the BBC miniseries. While Cranford isn't quite up there with North and South I stilled really enjoyed.

It was originally published in parts in Dickens' serial magazine Household Words so each little chapter is like it own little episode/story type thing but the characters are the same and some things do go over or there may be little hints and foreshadowing every now and then. I liked this format a lot especially for a readathon because it was quick little parts.

Cranford is set around the women of Cranford and they are like a core cast and then other characters come and go. Our narrator spends much of her time there but doesn't actually live so we have an outsiders perspective. Each character has there own little amusing quirk and it was just so lovely and quaint.

A benefit of listening to the audiobook was how you automatic got the tone of the book and the lady narrating it just made it very sarcastic and was showing how trivial many of the things were. But the when it came to the serious side that was well done too. I'm not going to lie I shed a few tears here and there some sad and some happy. The ending was my favourite because even though I had predicted it was going to happen it was lovely, lovely to happen to the most adorable character of Miss Matty.

So if you're looking for a quick, light quaint read that is very well written this is it. I can't wait to read more of Gaskell's work!

Speak soon,
Jade xx

Thursday, 4 June 2015

June TBR

Hello! So we are basically half way through the year which is crazy but the days are getting warmer so that's a plus! (most of the time that is). Today I'm going to share with  you my reading plans for June as tentative as they are. I don't know if I'll stick to it or read this many but we'll see :)

  • Emma by Jane Austen. (I have started this)
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (I've also read a tiny bit of this)
  • The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J Maas (again half way through this 1)
  • The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide (guess what? half way through as well!)
  • Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Allbertalli
  • Lord Arthur Savile's Crime by Oscar Wilde

Very much a finish stuff month since I have too many books I have started and not finished! Let me know if you have read any of these and your thoughts.
Speak soon,
Jade xx

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Big March-May Wrap-up!

Hello! Hope you're well :) Today I am bringing you all the books I read in March, April and May since I didn't do a wrap-up for them I figured I'd mash it all together. I didn't much reading in January or February but in March I read 3 books,  5 in April and _ in May

March: The Secret Countess by Eva Ibbotson. This was a re-read and it is one of my favourite books ever! Anna is a refugee from Russia in England, 1918, she has to work as a maid and keep her identity hidden from her employer the Earl of Westerholme but it is so much more!. It was just as good as I remember, 5 (billion) stars :)

Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame. This was a blast to the past for me and I picked it up due to Classic Alice and it was just really fun and I liked the writing style too. 3 stars

Northanger Abbey, Val McDermid. This is a retelling of Jane Austen's story and overall I really enjoyed it, if you want to know my thoughts I posted a review a few days ago. 3 stars.

April: Elizabeth is Missing, this is a mystery novel about a lady, Maud, who has dementia, a review will be up soon so look out for that as I have many mixed feelings on it. 2.5 stars.

The Tinder Box, Hans Christian Andersen. This was a small collection of his work and I really enjoyed it, again I have a review up. 4 stars

Cress & Fairest, Marissa Meyer. These are the 3rd and the 3.5 (maybe) installment to 1 of my favourite series, The Lunar Chronicles. Cress carries the story and was really good but fro me not as good as the first two. 4 stars. Fairest is the backstory of the villain Queen Levana which was interesting but again not amazing. 3.5 stars.

The Beautifull Cassandra, Jane Austen. This is another short collection of just little stories and it was classic Austen but you can tell that she was just having fun and it was so spectacularly ridiculous! 5 stars.

May: I took part in two readathons this month so instead of repeating myself and taking up room here are the wrap-aps from them: Bout of Books 13 & #RYBSAT.

Then in the last week of May I read a smidge of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

And that  is what I have been reading these past three months :)
Speak soon,
Jade xx