Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell



Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they’re off to university and Wren’s decided she doesn’t want to be one half of a pair any more – she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It’s not so easy for Cath. She’s horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she’s experienced in real life.

Now Cath has to decide whether she’s ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she’s realizing that there’s more to learn about love than she ever thought possible …

A tale of fanfiction, family, and first love

I loved reading this book for a number of reasons, but mainly because I could completely and utterly relate to the main character Cath. Her social anxiety, her ability to deal with people, the fanfiction, even the fact that she’s a twin (I am too). My anxiety isn’t as bad as hers, but it’s there, it exists.

I don’t usually go for books like this. I’m usually into the fantasy and sci-fi so it was actually quite refreshing to read something like this, with completely relatable events. One of my best friends and I would sit in class together, Maths or the form group typically, and write our fan fiction together. We would spend a lot of time on This book made me want to write my own fan fiction again.

The plot is fairly simple: Cath and her twin go to university. Wren is outgoing, confident and able to deal with social situations. Cath is much more reserved, hard to make friends with, hard to come out of her shell. She is writing a popular fan fiction for her favourite book/movie series called Simon Snow – which can only be an allegory to Harry Potter, and the Harry Potter fandom, even though Harry Potter is mentioned once or twice at the beginning of the book. Cath has spent a few years working on this one fic, and it’s nearing the end, and is feeling the pressure of ending the fic alongside all her school work.

Through the book we see how vastly differently the two twins deal with university life. Whether it’s Wren’s partying and the consequences she suffers later on, Cath making what she thought was a friend, Levi, Reagan, their father. I thought that it was all very well written and thought out, to the point that I could even suggest that this could be one of the best books that I have read this year. In fact, it’s embarrassing that it’s taken me so long to get to it (it was a birthday present back in March).

If there is one thing to mention though, it would be the fan fiction itself. In terms of Cath’s writing/community I felt that there was something missing. I was in that world, I’ve made lifelong friends from it, but where were Cath’s? She mentions several times about having friends in the internet, about not being alone, but there’s no interaction with them. I feel like some sort of communication with them would have helped seal this more effectively. I just didn’t feel as though Cath was connected to these people.

What did you think of this one? I definitely enjoyed, although probably wouldn’t consider reading “Carry On, Simon,” Cath’s fan fiction… I found the whole idea of Simon Snow really…. boring? Not sure if that’s the right word, but Rainbow Rowell is releasing the fan fiction as an original story in December, I believe…

Let me know what you think!


Why it’s okay to like Black Friday.

When I logged into my Facebook account this morning I saw several posts regarding Black Friday. If you don’t know what it is, it’s one day of the year that shops slash their prices and customers can snap up a great bargain on a huge variety of products. From technology, clothing and toiletries. Black Friday has it’s roots in America, the day after Thanksgiving when the US retailers do exactly the same thing: slash their prices. (It’s not the only day of the year in the UK when people can snap up a bargain either, Boxing Day is up there too, kicking off the Christmas/ January sales).

I believe it was introduced to the UK three, maybe four years ago. Things got a bit… chaotic last year when Asda (part of the US Walmart brand) opened its doors and customers were literally falling over each other and arguing about just how many TV’s one person could really need to buy. Scenes dominated the new screens and the breaking news updates about how awful the situation was.

The key is about execution of the day. I was working last year, but did browse Amazon and got a few items, mainly a new set of interchangeable knitting needles. That was fine, it was online. I certainly didn’t go out, and still managed to get a little bargain. (Of course, if you’re not into knitting, then it’s a useless bargain, but certainly for me it was useful). This year I knew that I wanted to buy something Apple related for a Christmas present. I wasn’t going to hold out for today, to be perfectly honest, as I’d heard that Apple wasn’t going to partake in Black Friday, so assumed that retailers may not either. However, I was awake at 5am, not because I wanted to be, but because my partner had to get up for work at that time. I was browsing online whilst he got ready for work, and tried going back to sleep. It just wasn’t happening this morning.

At 6am, the deals went live on Currys. I reserved the item I wanted, which had a little bit of money off, and then headed to the store about 8.30. Traffic was calm, end of the school/rush hour. The car park was relatively empty and the store wasn’t exactly busy. I was able to get my item (after a short wait where I was contemplating whether the sales guy at to assemble it from scratch as well as sell it). Item in hand, I was able to leave just as calmly as I had entered.

Like I said – it’s all about the execution of the event. The stores have learnt from the mistakes from previous years, and have certainly gone out of their way to prevent the chaos from previous years as well. Having a week long event helps in that as well.

I like Black Friday as it gives consumers a chance to get that bargain. Perhaps, for those of us that are on lower incomes can have the opportunity to get better deals that we could get otherwise. I mean, if I could have waited for my new oven I would have considered waiting for this week, but we couldn’t, not really. We’re already running on stove top dinners that can get a bit… dull. And fussy, when you have a partner that is a fussy eater and eats a lot of oven chips.

There are people out there that assume that just because consumers like to feel like they are saving money that they are turned into drones by the government. It’s sad that one day of the year could have the potential to make or break a shops fortunes, but that doesn’t make the the general public a drone. My favourite knitting shop usually has a sale one day of the year – not Black Friday – and whether or not I’ll need the yarn, I’ll have a look and possibly buy something. That doesn’t make me a drone. That makes me a sensible shopper.

I think what I’m really getting at here is this: it’s okay to like things that other people don’t. What’s not okay, really, is to shove that opinion down someone else’s throat/the realm of Facebook, just because you don’t like the idea of people shopping on one day of the year. People are independent, able to make their own minds up with what they want to do. Facing the potential crowds is just one of them.

The Invisible Library – Genevieve Cogman




The first installment of an adventure featuring stolen books, secret agents and forbidden societies – think Doctor Who with librarian spies!

Irene must be at the top of her game or she’ll be off the case – permanently…

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she’s posted to an alternative London. Their mission – to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it’s already been stolen. London’s underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book.

Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested – the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene’s new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own.

Soon, she’s up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option – the nature of reality itself is at stake.

I was drawn to this book for two main reasons: I am a huge lover of Warehouse 13 and am getting into The Librarians (series two is currently airing on Sci-Fi). I was hoping for something mildly like it… and I’m not really sure what I got, so I’ll list them here: we have Irene, heroine and Librarian; alternate worlds connected by the Library; more than one mystery; bad guys of more than one variety; vampires, werewolves, fae, dragons and magic; unique language that can only be used by Librarians; fairytales and books.

I wanted to love this book. Everything about it screams that it’s something that I would enjoy but with all the added detail there was just too much going on. I think that the amount of ideas and concepts that the author included made it harder to connect with the story at all to be honest. For instance, if this was a series where we were introduced to the concept of the Library, and have an adventure to ease the reader into the world(s) rather than throwing everything and everyone into it, including a sort of Voldemort-esque character. There was also something that didn’t let me connect to Irene who should have been an awesome heroine, but she was so frequently second guessing herself and questioning why/what ifs with the actions that she was carrying out.

This is one of those books where there’s just so much going on, and at the same time it feels like there’s nothing happening except for a bit of tea drinking and discussing events. Because of this it made the narrative feel really quite disjointed. A lot of stuff happened, but I didn’t feel as though there was any consistency to it. There was one time where I thought that only a day and half had passed in the book but then Irene mentions to Kai that they’ve been in that world for five days. Because of the nature of the writing this isn’t clear, and doesn’t help that disjointed feel to it. I think the only comparison I can draw here is when reading a book like Angels and Demons you know that Dan Brown follows a formula and it’s clear in the book that only 24 hours passes, and the same with Da Vinci Code etc.

Overall this was an interesting read, and I think the story had a lot of potential which makes me consider the possibility of reading the next story in the trilogy, but it’s not one that I’m going to hurry and buy on it’s release date. This first novel could have done with a great deal of tidying up, if you like, in order for me to completely click with it.

Is this one you’ve read? What did you think? My next book is Fangirl!


Lace Wildflower Blanket

I haven’t written in a while. It’s not been ages, but it has been long enough for me to have completed three knitting projects, finished another book and got a new job! It’s been a busy few weeks, so today I thought I would write about some of it. I’m going to write about one of my projects as the other two are secret Christmas presents, so they are hush-hush for the time being. I will write about the book in a separate blog, as always, in order to keep my blog… well, in order. I also plan to write a blog about the job situation, from the moment I was made redundant to the job hunting process, because it’s painful… but again, more on that later.

So, let me introduce you my biggest project of late:

This is called ‘Lace Wildflower Blanket’ on Revelry. I stumbled across it entirely by accident, and it was perfect. And free for that day only, so it was clearly meant to be. I already had the perfect yarn in my stash thanks to the Daily Mail’s free yarn coupons from a few weeks prior which made everything about this project free, excluding the time that went into it. So, it was super meant to be! I used my ‘go to’ yarn – Hobbycraft’s Women’s Institute, this project was in Aran weight. The pattern called for Worsted. I usually switch Worsted for Aran as I don’t seem to be able to easily find Worsted in the shops.

The pattern called for three sizes, and I went for the biggest for two reasons: to use up as much of the yarn as possible (used up all the pink, and had something like 75g of cream left), but it would be easy to keep repeating the diamond pattern to make even larger if that’s what you wanted to do. The other reason is because this blanket is a gift for a friend expecting a little girl so I wanted it to be big enough to last from being little to being a comfort blanket when the baby grows up a bit… if she likes it that is! IMG_1538

It was such a pleasure to be knitting this blanket. It was easy, the pattern was well written and included charts and written, catering to all types of knitters preferences. (I’m a chart knitter, but I remember when I was first trying to understand them, I was like wtf is going on? Having a pattern like this is a great learning tool to transition into the charts). That being said I did make a couple of mistakes here and there, but hopefully nothing too obvious. An extra knit line here (it took 20 mins to knit, after I realised I wasn’t about to tink back that was for sure!), a couple of yo in the wrong place… but these mistakes don’t know in the grand scheme of things, so it’s all good.

I love the colours together as well, sort of reminds me of raspberry ripple ice cream!
I also learned a new technique as well! I consider myself fairly experienced now at this knitting stuff and love it when I come across new techniques in patterns. This one was the iCord bind off/cast off. It’s something I’ve seen mentioned on Ravelry but haven’t really paid attention to patterns with them in. It makes a really nice, defined, smooth edging that looks great. I would have been cool to have put in a contrast colour as recommended in the pattern, but I didn’t really have enough that I thought would have matched or been suitable, so I stuck to the cream. I think it looks really neat!

I definitely recommend this pattern. It’s one of those that I definitely think I would knit again, and I can’t wait for the lady in question to receive it. I need to get my backside in gear to send it across!

Over the last week or so I discovered that KnitPicks so ship to the UK. I’ve been stalking their website trying to by one particular type of yarn for a long time. I wanted some of their hand painted Stroll yarn, in a specific colour way SIMPLY because the colours reminded me of David Tennent’s Tenth Doctor. Now that I can order it I can’t help but do my usual ‘do I really NEED more yarn?’ routine… of course I don’t, but I want it! A lot of the yarn I have in stock is sock yarn though, and being as though I don’t knit an awful lot of socks… do I need more? I know I have a lot of shawls and scarves in the planning, but still! I hate justifying things to myself. I can afford it, but I also had to buy things like a new cooker in the week so… why does being an adult have to conflict with my awesome hobby! I’ll let you know if I get that yarn *wink*.

I have all of next week off before I start my new job, so don’t anticipate my next project taking a great deal of time to make…
What are you working on at the moment? Care to share?



Armada – Ernest Cline

When you read a book by an author that was just so awesome and you pick up another book you want it to be just as awesome. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. For me, Armada wasn’t as great as Ready Player One. It could be because whilst I am a bit of a gamer, this was entirely involved with gaming. Or it could have been the delivery… I don’t know. I’ll explore it a bit more below the synopsis.


Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.

But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.

And then he sees the flying saucer.

Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders.

No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.

It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little…familiar?

At once gleefully embracing and brilliantly subverting science-fiction conventions as only Ernest Cline could, Armada is a rollicking, surprising thriller, a classic coming of age adventure, and an alien invasion tale like nothing you’ve ever read before—one whose every page is infused with the pop-culture savvy that has helped make Ready Player One a phenomenon.

It took me a little while to get into the flow of the story for Armada. It should have been something that I would have been into straight away, however, I found that it was really hard to concentrate and get into those few chapters.

Obviously I did get into the book as I managed to finish it. Once the action picked up I found it harder to put the book down. I did find following the action as described inside the “cockpit” of the gaming pod  a little hard to follow sometimes, but nonetheless found this bit the most interesting.

I think certain parts of the plot were pretty obvious from the beginning. For example, Zacks’ daddy issues and how they revealed themselves throughout the book. And the secret conspiracy behind the Earth Defence League. [I didn’t really know until reading this book that American English spells defence with an “s” where the “c” is in the British version]. There was also the convenience of the plot line. Things were quite predictable, and this was something that was mentioned in the passing of the narrative as well, Zack knows that something isn’t right throughout the whole book as things are way too easy – despite the losses during the invasion – and then the setting up of a near perfect society and why it just doesn’t seem right. It certainly sets up this novel for a second incarnation.

A lot of reviews that I have read draw comparisons to Enders Game, Star Wars, Star Trek etc., which are more than fair comparisons to make, but they are also included in the books in the first instance. I think Ernest Cline puts these things into his books to appeal to those who would get excited at the references to them – I certainly know that I do. The occasional reference to some sort of science fiction that can then relate to the story does amuse me!

Have you read Armada? What did you think?


Teriyaki Chicken

Yesterday I had my parents over for dinner. I knew what I would be making – a ramen soup, sourced from the Slimming World recipe book [zero syns!], as I knew that it was a winning dish. But I also wanted to have something to go with it, something that was new and tasty. Something that I hadn’t tried before. I also knew that my dad wanted to try teriyaki chicken, so seemed like a good enough time to try it. The good news about this recipe is that it doesn’t actually require all that much stuff, and I think I only needed to buy one ingredient for the whole dish…. it should have been two but I sort of forgot about it.

So here’s the recipe. I found it online, but I really don’t remember the link [if you recognise it, link me up and I’ll give the credit where it’s due]. The key thing for me in finding this recipe is that I didn’t want to put alcohol in my cooking. I don’t drink alcohol as I’m not a fan of the taste, and as such didn’t want that in my dish. This recipe was the only one I found that didn’t have the sake in it.

•    4 chicken breast, chopped/cubed
•    4 fluid oz honey
•    4 fluid oz teriyaki sauce
•    1 tbsp soy sauce
•    1 tbsp minced garlic
•    ½ tsp. black pepper
•    ¼ tsp. Salt
•    Sesame seeds to taste


–>  Cut the chicken into pieces and put into a bowl. Add all the ingredients and mix together. Use your hands to massage into the chicken and to make sure that everything is covered.
–> Put everything into a large saucepan and cook on a medium heat. It will look a bit weird, a bit watery, but have the faith, this is going to be awesome. Make sure to stir occasionally otherwise it may stick to the side of the saucepan. You also need to make sure that the chicken is actually cooking – this is something that I’m really paranoid about. After about 10 minutes, turn up the heat – cut a couple of chicken pieces to make sure there’s no pink and it’s cooked properly!
–> Keep cooking on the high heat. It will take a little while [about 15/20 minutes from the start of cooking] but the sauce will start to darken and thicken, and to stick to the chicken as well. At this point add your sesame seeds if your using.
–> Check once more to make sure chicken is cooked and dish up!

The way that I’ve seen this dish served is over rice a bit like a curry, but I haven’t tried that. I used this as a side dish to the ramen which went down a treat! I left mine on the heat for a little too long, which meant that the sauce was very sticky and tasty, but it should be a little running rather than entirely sticky.

I hope that you enjoy this, it was super tasty to eat! Let me know if you make and what you thought of it!


Scarlet – Marissa Meyer

Scarlett is the second book in the reimagined fairytale series by Marissa Meyer, The Lunar Chronicles. We catch up with the Cinder from the first book, and are introduced to Scarlett, of the Red Riding Hood fairytale as we discover more about the Lunar princess, and some of what happened to her when she was first secreted away on Earth, hidden from the evil Lunar Queen Levanna.

Synopsis [Goodreads]:

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison–even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner

Returning to the world of Cinder, this somewhere in the future land where the world is just a little but different, made up of people living on the moon, three distinct empires on the Earth and people with a little bit of cyborg in them as well, things aren’t going very well. The Lunar Queen will do anything to have the Earth under her power, and is bidding her time until her plans come into fruition. She thought that the Lunar princess was dead, having killed her many moons ago, but it turns out that isn’t quite true. She was rebuilt. Enter Cinder.

We first join Cinder as she’s incarnated for being a Lunar. Very few people know her true, more dangerous identity. She’s going to break out, and do whatever it is necessary to stay alive. Even if that means taking a cocky American pilot with her. She’s out to discover her real identity, the person she needs to be, and she doesn’t like that idea at all. She just wants to be the grungy mechanic fixing androids.

We meet Scarlet as she’s searching for her grandmother. She simply disappeared one day, leaving her identity chip behind. They have no secrets between them, nothing to suggest the reasons why she would have been taken. Except, there’s just that one thing that her grandmother never told her. Hidden heritage, and the biggest secret in the world.

I really enjoyed being back in the world of Cinder. I enjoyed the new characters, Scarlet was pretty cool – although the constant references to her hair and her hoody were a little unnecessary – I get that she’s wearing her favourite red hoody, and that her hair matches her name already! I liked the fact that we got to see a different part of the world, and just how Cinder’s and Scarlet’s worlds married up. The idea of the “Order of the Pack” was a little annoying, more so because of the name – it doesn’t flow very well for me, you know?

The end of the book was heartbreaking with Scarlet and Cinder being so close to their mission – Scarlet’s grandmother – and to have been unable to complete it, and to not get the answers that they needed was frustrating! But it does set up nicely for the next book, Cress, which I look forward to reading soon!

What I like about these books is that they are easy to read, and it’s so far not been a story of overwhelming love – sure, there’s been love elements such as Kai and Wolf – but that isn’t the central story. All to often I read books that are supposed to be one thing that descend into ridiculous love stories that the thing that started it all is sort of forgotten about. This is not one of those stories, and is becoming one of my favourite reads of this year!

What are you reading at the moment?