Books

Book Reviews: August 2016

Sharing with you the books that I read during August - www.christina77star.co.uk

August was a very good month. I managed to read 8 books! Some of them were re-reads, and some were new books. I thoroughly enjoyed reading all of them... well, almost all of them. So, let's get started with the reviews.


SUMMER TRILOGY BY JENNY HAN

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This was a trilogy I've read before and decided to read again this month. It's the perfect read for the beach, if you ask me. I don't usually go for this type of books - I love my fantasy books too much. But I needed a break and wanted to read something different. These books were perfect and I finished them in no time!

Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer -- they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one wonderful and terrible summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.
I really enjoyed reading again about Belly and the boys. Books 2 and 3 show Jeremiah's and Conrad's point of view, and I liked that because it helps to get deeper into the story. I got upset with Belly lots of times through the books, with the way she was reacting! If you're looking for an easy to read series, then this is a nice one to consider.

The 'Summer' Trilogy consists of the books: 'The Summer I Turned Pretty', 'It's not Summer without You' and 'We'll always have Summer'.
YA Contemporary Romance 
**** (4 stars)

THE WINNER'S TRILOGY BY MARIE RUTKOSKI

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This series has turned out to be one of my top ones ever! I loved every word! Again I found myself re-reading the first two books in order to conclude the series by reading the final book that came out this March.

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love...

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

This is an incredible story that is so beautifully written. Through the books it unfolds and brings out some incredible feelings. Kestrel is one of my all time favourite female characters, and I love how the author describes the way her brain works. For Arin there's just no words - he's just perfect.

In books #2 and #3 the story gets deeper, and we get to meet new characters and to witness great sacrifices in the name of love. I just love Roshan's sense of humour!!! The banter between him and Arin is so good!!! The third book is simply amazing and it gives this trilogy the ending it deserves. 

The 'Winner's' Trilogy consists of the books: 'The Winer's Curse''The Winner's Crime' and 'The Winner's Kiss'.
Science Fiction & Fantasy
***** (5 stars)


CRACKED BY ELIZA CREWE

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This is the first book of the 'Soul Eater' Trilogy that I've heard a lot of good reviews about it, and I decided to give it a try this month. When I read the synopsis I got really excited, but unfortunately, I didn't like it as much as I hoped I would.

Meet Meda. She eats people.
Well, technically, she eats their soul. But she totally promises to only go for people who deserve it. She’s special. It’s not her fault she enjoys it. She can’t help being a bad guy. Besides, what else can she do? Her mother was killed and it’s not like there are any other “soul-eaters” around to show her how to be different. That is, until the three men in suits show up.
Even though I loved Meda and her sarcastic humour was unbelievable for the first third of the book, however half way through I found myself losing interest a bit and finding cracks in the story. You get some socking revelations towards the end but that's it. The most memorable characters are Meda and Armand who appears in only one chapter....

Cracked 
Science Fiction & Fantasy
*** (3 stars)


THE CROWN'S GAME

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This is a book that got a lot of hype in Goodreads and YouTube, and I really hoped that I would like it because the synopsis was so good. Well, it did not disappoint me.
Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.
And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.
I have to say that I really loved the story and the characters. Nicolai was my favourite. He was presented as very elegand and kind, as well as very powerful with his magic. I loved his sensitivity and the way he was thinking. Vika on the other hand was presented as a strong young woman with equally high magical powers. I even loved Pasha - the sweet and kind tsesarevic :)

However, at times I found the writing very superficial and some of the chapters felt as if they were done in a hurry.... That's the reason for the 3.8*.... Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the book and can't wait to read book no. 2!

The Crown's Game
Science Fiction & Fantasy
**** (3.8 stars)

August was a very good month as you can see not only for the number of books that I've read, but also of the quality and how much I liked them. Even though I read 8 books this month, I'm still 7 books behind in my reading challenge that I have set up for myself. Let's hope I'll manage to read as many books in September to catch up ;)

How many books did you read in August? Which one was your favourite?




Book Reviews: July 2016


I am starting a new post category in my blog, where once a month I'll review and talk about the books that I've read the previous month. I love reading books and since reading is such a big part of my life, I wanted to share with you my views and opinions of all the books that I read. :)






During July, I managed to finish 4 books and marathon The Raven Cycle Series. I wanted to read The Raven Boys for a while, but I was a little intimidated by the hype that surrounds this series. However, since the 4th and last book ("The Raven King") came out in April, I decided to start reading it and see why everyone seems to be obsessed about it. I'll talk more about the first book of the series and I'll be a bit more vague about the other 3 books, so that I don't reveal any spoilers :)

On a cold night every spring, sixteen-year-old Blue and her psychic mother wait in a churchyard for the dead to arrive. Her mother is usually the one who sees the spirits of people who will die within the next twelve months, but this year, Blue herself sees the ghost of a boy named Gansey who's going to die within the coming year.
“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve, Blue. Either you’re his true love or you killed him.”
With those chilling words, Blue is caught up in a mystery she never expected, involving the privileged Raven Boys from Aglionby Academy. She must be carefull though, because Blue's always been told that she's destined to kill her true love with a kiss.

I have never read a book with an even close storyline. I was highly intrigued by this premise and I couldn't wait to start reading!

I'll start my review by saying that this is quite a unique and captivating series filled with lots of twists. Psychics. Ghosts. Spirits. Sleeping kings. Legends. Enchanted forests. And a cursed romance. What else could you ask for?

The Raven Boys is filled with intriguing characters. We have a lot of very distinguished and very unique personalities.

Blue is the main female character of the story, that lives with a family of psychic women.  She’s a strong and eccentric character that wants to be different. She sounds weird and pixie-like, but I really liked her character and the part she plays in the story and in the boys' lives.

“She wasn’t interested in telling other people’s futures. She was interested in going out and finding her own.” 

Needless to say, Richard Campbell Gansey III was my favorite. He is obsessed in finding the legendary sleeping Welsh King that has played such a big part in his life. I loved his inquisitive mind and commanding leadership. He acts like the leader of the group, but that has nothing to do with his money or his status. His friends follow him in his quest out of love and respect, which is mutual.  

“My words are unerring tools of destruction, and I’ve come unequipped with the ability to disarm them.”

Ronan was by far the most mysterious of the boys, and remains so throughout the whole series. He sounds scary and intimidating, but that just shows even more how broken he really is. Book #2 "The Dream Thieves" shows more about him and his story, and all his scary and out of this world little secrets start to be revealed.

“You're looking for a god. Didn't you suspect that there was also a devil?”

Adam is such a lovable character. You connect with him straight away and can't help but feel for him and everything he's been through. I just wanted to jump in the book and give him a big hug! I also loved to see how he evolved and transformed as a character through the whole series.

Noah is the character that is always a bit in the background. But more about him are revealed as you get through the series, and you get to know his big secret that has affected everyone's lives.

I have to mention here the closeness that all the characters seem to share with one another. I loved the complicated relationship between these boys, from their good-natured jeers to their anxious concern for one another. And I think Blue was the missing piece!

Of course there are even more amazing characters that are introduced throughout the books and play a big part in the story. Each one is intriguing and different and I love how the author helps you to get to know them more and get close to them. The book is told from multiple point of views, which I found to be a quite interesting change to what I'm usually reading, and a necessary one given the many characters we get to know, particularly the raven boys.

The rest of the books feel like to be centered more to one character at a time, without taking anything away from the story or the other characters. That way you get to know them even more. In the "The Dream Thieves" we get to know more about Ronan, in the "Blue Lily, Lily Blue" we connect more with Blue's character, while in the last book Gansey seems to be more the center of attention.

I caught myself lots of times, while reading this series, wanting to actually be part of the story, to join Blue and the Raven Boys in their adventures! The first book definitely leaves you wanting to know more, and the rest of the books surely don't disappoint!

A strange and otherworldly, original and enthralling nonetheless series that you must read!!!





The Miracle Morning - 30 Day Life Transformation Challenge

Preparing for the 30 Day Life Transformation Challenge from the Miracle Morning book by Hal Elrod - christina77star.co.uk

After reading Hal Elrod's The Miracle Morning book, I am ready for the 30-day Life Transformation Challenge that he sets in it. Once you read the book, you basically go through certain steps where you answer some clarity questions, you assess your life with the 'Level 10 Life' wheel and then you go on and set your Level 10 Goals.

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I created a two page layout in my bullet journal, as I've seen it in Kara's website, but I also have 3-4 pages of more detailed Level 10 Goals in it as well.

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The book shows a simple approach to achieve what you've ever wanted, by having a specific morning routine that includes Silence, Affirmations, Visualisation, Exercise, Reading and Scribing.

I already have a similar morning routine, where I dance and meditate and lately I tried to incorporate some visualisation too, but this is more focused and intense since there are specific steps and it's done every single day. I am up for giving myself some challenges and therefore I decided to do it starting from tomorrow, Monday the 13th of July 2016 (why wait until next month?)

So, for the past two days I've been trying to set myself ready. I always believed that the more prepared you are for something, the less likely it is that you'll mess up and fail. I took each step separately and made sure I have everything I'll need for it.

SILENCE

For this part of my morning routine I'll be meditating for 10 minutes. I've been using Headspace for quite some time now, but I wanted to add something else as well and I found a new application called Calm where I'll try their 7 Days of Calm program before deciding if I'll pay for it monthly.

AFFIRMATIONS

I wanted to create a page with affirmations that was as personal to me as possible, instead of finding various affirmations online each day. My goal was to have a set of affirmations that I can read all together as one paragraph, or that I can choose one, if I want, each day to repeat as a mantra. So, I came up with the following being inspired by Louise HayHal ElrodPam Grout and many online resourses:

  • Something amazingly awesome is going to happen to me today.
  • This is going to be a great day.
  • I make today the best day of my life, because there is simply no good reason not to.
  • Today I will take one step towards my dreams.
  • I create beautiful experiences.
  • I am in charge of how I feel and today I choose happiness.
  • I am committed to live in constant joy. Joy is my natural state.
  • There is nothing to fear.
  • Life emanates from me. I create the world with my thoughts, my beliefs, and my energetic frequency.
  • I already have everything I could ever want or need.
  • The universe has my back and is constantly sending me blessings, gifts, signs and guidance.
  • Making money is easy.
  • I can afford anything I want. In fact, I am so prosperous, I never need to worry again.
  • Things always work out for me.
  • I am successful in everything I do.
  • What I think, I create.
  • Amazing opportunities exist for me in every aspect of my life.
  • I deserve the best and I accept it right now. All my needs and desires are met before I even ask.
  • I am just as deserving of extraordinary happiness, health, wealth and success as any other person on this planet!
  • I am loved.
  • I am the best mother I can be.
  • I am blessed with an amazing, loving and supportive family and loyal, kind and understanding friends.
  • I am creative, smart and talented. I love to inspire people.
  • I am strong and confident.
  • My body is filled with energy. 
  • I love my body and I take care of it every day filling it with nutritious food and by exercising.
  • I listen to my body and give it what it needs on every level.
  • My body is peaceful, healthy and happy, and so am I.
  • My mind and body are in perfect balance. I am a harmonious being.
  • I relax and enjoy life. I know that whatever I need to know is revealed to me in the perfect time and space sequence.
  • I am grateful for all that I am, all that I have and all that I experience.
  • I am grateful for my beautiful life.
  • I am whole and complete.
  • All is well in my world.

I wrote them in my bullet journal and I've also printed them and I have a copy in my office and by my bedside table. I've created a FREE printable for you too!

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VISUALISATION

I wanted to create a two page layout in my bullet journal, but I don't want to rush it. I want to take my time and create something special. But in the meantime, I've created a Visualisation Board on Pinterest that works just fine for now.

EXERCISE

As far as my exercise is concerned, I was already working out on average 3-4 times a week. So, the plan for the next 30 days is to run 3-4 times a week following the 5K Runner App. that I had stopped using and then started all over again two weeks ago. The rest of the time, I am going to walk for 30 minutes and then do some weight lifting exercises and some squats. Once I finish with the app, I'm going to be going swimming everyday for an hour - which I love and I can't wait!

READING

For the reading part of this morning routine I decided to finally read the book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, that I've been meaning to do for some time now. I am going to be reading 1-2 chapters per day. After that, I'll continue with the Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.

SCRIBING

I am excited about this part of the morning routine, but I am also worried about it. I like to journal and write, but I am not consistant and in the past whenever I tried to write every day, I gave up. So, this time I am determined to make it work. I already have my notebook dedicated for my writing ready -  it's a pale yellow Moleskine Journal cahier squared.  I decided that for this part, I can do one of the following so that I always have a choice:

  • Write about whatever I want that day.
  • Write my affirmations or the affirmation that I've chosen for that particular day lots of times.
  • Choose one of the prompts from this journaling prompt list I found online, that looks really interesting. 

My schedule for my morning routine will be:

WAKE UP AT 5am

SILENCE: 10 mins

AFFIRMATIONS: 10 mins

VISUALISATION: 10 mins

EXERCISE: 40-60 mins

READING: 15 mins

SCRIBING: 15-20 mins

And I am ready! You can get your copy of Hal Elrod's 'Miracle Morning'  book here. If you'd like to join me in this miracle morning life transformation challenge, please leave a comment below so that we can support and inspire each other. :) 

What is your current morning routine?

Morning Dance - Start your day by choosing to be Happy

Morning Dancing - Start your day by choosing to by happy

Today I come to you with some amazing dance moves and a lot of swing! For the past 6 months I've implemented something into my morning routine that has affected my day in a very positive way and I'd like to share it with you.


And that is dancing!

Right after I wake up in the morning, I put on my headphones (I don't think my family would appreciate a full blast of Bruno Mars at 6 o'clock in the morning!) and I turn my bathroom into the dance floor. For approximately 5 mins I dance like no one's watching and I create my own choreography right in front of my bathroom mirror.

Tweet: By consciously starting your day focused on gratitude and joy you'll find that your whole life will begin to sparkle |http://bit.ly/1P6PE7f 'By consciously starting your day focused on gratitude and joy, you'll find that your whole life will begin to sparkle.' (Pam Grout - 'E-Cubed')

I know what you're thinking: at 6 in the morning I can't keep my eyes open, let alone start dancing like crazy in the bathroom. That's how I was feeling when I first read about it in Pam Grout's book 'E-Cubed'. But I promise you, if you try it for 2-3 days, you'll be hooked!

That's because those 5 minutes will affect the rest of your day in such a powerful and positive way, that you'll look forward to your next morning dance.

'Using the first five minutes of your day to feel good is like programming a destination into your GPS, like fixing your eye on the spot where you want your golf ball to land.' (Pam Grout, 'E-Cubed')

The theory behind this according to Mrs. Grout's book is that the more fun you have, the better life works.

So, my morning routine right now looks something like this:

I wake up around 6am
Meditate for 10 mins.
Stretch and give thanks to the Universe for another beautiful day.

'When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.' (Tecumseh, Native American Leader)

Then I throw a feelgood party in my bathroom listening to one of the tunes from my morning dance playlist I've created on YouTube. (I've made it public for you, if you want to check it out here.)

I can't begin to tell you the difference I've noticed in my mood and the positive things that happen to me during the day, since I've started dancing in the morning. It's crazy - I know, but it definitely works! If you have not yet tried the morning dance experiment, I dare you to give it a go. If you do, please let me know what you think in the comments below. You can also share other things you've implemented in your morning routine that work. 

Have an amazing day!