June Wrap Up – Books, TV, and things that make me happy!

June’s been another funny old month, going from 0 to 60 seemingly every other day! That said, I did manage to read a fair amount in the days that were closer to 0!

One of my favourite new discoveries (other than Colin the Caterpillar sweets from Marks and Spencer – yum!) was the Lunar Chronicles series, which I’ve seen knocking around countless times and never picked up. I bought the first book, Cinder, a while ago and it was gathering dust on my bookshelf until Emily over at Breathe Easy Books and I decided we’d buddy read them. Lo and behold, we both got hooked immediately and long story short, I now own the whole series, complete with the novellas that slot between novels!

Find out more below!

Which book pleasantly surprised you when it crept onto your favourites list?

Book covers for the Extinction Trials, Bonfire, Annihilation, Cinder, iZombie and Scarlet

The Extinction Trials – S.M Wilson

The Extinction Trials by SM WilsonI got this one on a whim on a Kindle sale, and didn’t really know too much about it. However, I’m glad I picked it up, as it was a fun read! The best way I can describe it is Hunger Games meets Jurassic ParkIt’s set in a society similar to The Hunger Games’s Panem, where there’s clear class divides and low quality of life for those on the lower rungs of the ladder. These people co-exist with dinosaurs, and needless to say, it’s not going so well for the humans. Each year, the higher-ups in society arrange the Extinction Trials, where volunteers are plied with the promise of free food and medical care for their families forever if they return with knowledge that could help scientists work out the dinosaurs’ weaknesses.

Stormchaser and Lincoln are our protagonists, each with very different reasons for agreeing to be dropped into a rainforest full of giant, unfriendly reptiles. Stormchaser has no family, and originally enters just because she can eat free food during the try-out stages, but ends up staying on because she disagrees with the idea of wiping out a whole species. Lincoln, on the other hand, has a sister on death’s door and no money to get her medical assistance. Both are equally determined, but when pitted against an array of unfriendly carnivores and rising tensions between the teammates on the trial, who will survive to tell the tale?

Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

Bonfire by Krysten Ritter coverBonfire follows Abby Williams, an environmental lawyer forced to revisit the hometown she ran from when its main company is embroiled in a pollution scandal. However, that’s not all that’s going out in the sticks of Barrens, Indiana. With mysterious illnesses striking high school girls back when Abby lived in Barrens and similar symptoms cropping up in kids now, could it be that the pollution is having devastating effects on the town’s people, or is something else afoot? With two of three original victims claiming they made up their illness, it’s been brushed under the rug as a teenage plea for attention. However, one of the three has been missing since shortly after the revelation, and Abby’s not convinced she was faking her illness.

It’s a slow-burning thriller with the same sort of dark cynicism you see in Gillian Flynn’s books, but for me, it wasn’t quite as polished as Flynn’s work. Whilst it was interesting, I did find myself at points wanting Ritter to just throw me a bone – any cheap thrill to keep me hooked. It’s very much how I suppose it would be in real life; strategic, chronological detective work and then the results of it, all interspersed with memories from years before. However, at points, I felt a bit like I was floating between the back story and the present day, with no real bridge to connect them.

Coming from Ritter, I went in with high expectations – perhaps something as gritty and thrilling as her onscreen self’s cases in Jessica Jones. However, Bonfire didn’t quite create that need that a really good thriller creates – that need to get to the twist and find out what’s going on. Not a bad debut by any means, but not quite up there with the greats of this genre for me.

Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

Annihilation by Jeff VandermeerThis one was a funny one for me. I actually watched the movie a few months before I picked up the book, and found that interesting but very confusing! I put it down to the sci-fi elements not being fully explained onscreen, and picked up the book with my friend Nils, who’s much more seasoned in sci-fi than I am. She really enjoyed it, and whilst I enjoyed it too, I don’t think I’ll pick up the second one.

The reason for that is because I just couldn’t connect with any of the characters. It kind of felt like I was watching their antics through a veil, as opposed to being there in the action like I would be in other books. None of the characters have names – they’re just the biologist, the anthropologist, the psychologist, and the surveyor – and this made it feel a bit clinical to me. It was an interesting read and I’m glad I read it as it was waaaay different to the film, but it just didn’t hook me in the way I wanted it to.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder cover by Marissa MeyerI put this book off for so long, and I won’t lie – it’s because I thought the covers looked tacky! But honestly, I’ve loved the content so much so far that it could just be pages in a paper bag and I’d still pick it up. As you may have guessed by my Grisly Disney series,  I love a good fairy tale retelling/origin story. This series takes just enough elements to remain in the parameters of the original, but changes it up enough that you don’t know what’s coming next and it doesn’t feel like you’re reading something you’ve already read.

Cinder is a retelling of Cinderella, set in futuristic China. The origins of Cinderella actually come from China, with the glass slipper a nod to the footbinding practices there, so it’s a nice little Easter egg from the author. Cinder is not your typical heroine though – she’s a mechanic, and just so happens to be a cyborg. Her story becomes intertwined with that of Prince Kai of the Commonwealth when she’s commissioned to fix his royal android, Nainsi, and she becomes privy to many secrets which could threaten his life, and her own. Along the way, there’s also a series of adventures including intergalactic enemies, the plague, scientific magic, and loads more.

I can’t quite put it into words properly without giving spoilers, but this really is a clever and enjoyable take on the story of Cinderella, and avoids the cliches you might expect of a girl meeting a prince! There’s a host of loveable, strong characters and equally, a raft of characters you just love to hate. If you’re like me and let the covers put you off, just open the book and swoop right in! You won’t regret it!

iZombie by Chris Roberson and Mike Allred

iZombie cover by Chris Roberson As you may know, I am obsessed with Veronica Mars and sorely lacking suitable VMars substitutes to fill the sassy girl detective-shaped hole in my heart. (Not to be dramatic or anything). iZombie pretty much does this, whilst combining another love of mine – Supernatural! The TV show (available on Netflix/the CW if you wanna watch) is written by the very same Rob Thomas who penned Veronica Mars, so it’s full of the same sassy sarcasm and brilliant characters that the show was known for.

Since I’m loving the show so much, I decided to pick up its source material, the iZombie comics. I got the omnibus for my birthday, and read all 600 and something pages on a little weekend break. It’s really quite different to the show aside from the concept of a zombie girl solving the murders of the people whose brains she’s snacking on, but it’s still great. It’s a little more supernatural-based in the comics – instead of a medical examiner and a police detective as the main characters, she’s flanked by a ghost and a were-terrier. The show focuses on making it more “real” if you like – what would happen if zombies really were amongst us, indistinguishable from the rest of us apart from by their pale skin and white hair? Either way, you totally need to get into both, and Veronica Mars too while you’re at it!

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet cover by Marissa MeyerSo, while Cinder is the first in this series, Scarlet is the second. It focuses on – you guessed it – Little Red Riding Hood this time around. What I like about this series is the main characters themselves. The women are headstrong, independent and not your cookie-cutter heroines, and the men are strong yet vulnerable – in other words, human! This series is really refreshing in the way that it doesn’t try to make characters that are clearly designed to be “strong women” or “men who aren’t afraid to cry”. The characters just are, very much like we all are as humans. They’re very relatable, enjoyable and you find yourself rooting for them.

This installment follows Scarlet and Wolf on a mission to find her grandmother, who’s mysteriously gone missing. In the meantime, we have chapters from Cinder’s P.O.V, though I won’t say what she’s doing because it would be a spoiler from the first book! Inevitably, their paths eventually cross, and they team up. It’s a rollercoaster of adrenaline and emotion, and I loved every second of it!

 

Covers for the TV series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and The Staircase, plus the documentary Making Fun

As well as the series I mentioned last month that are still going, I’ve been watching some new stuff!

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy

I’m not sure why, but originally I thought this was a drama – I think I got it confused with Queer as Folk in my head! Anyway, the only drama in this is Jonathan being a diva every now and then, and I live for it! Haha! I love a good makeover show, and I enjoy how Queer Eye doesn’t shy away from addressing issues we all like to pretend don’t happen in the 21st century – racism, homophobia, societal expectations etc. They go to towns known for being homophobic to help people. They go to churches – obviously not known for being the friendliest places for gay people – and help them rebuild their communities. They go to places where non-white people aren’t welcome. They bash down stereotypes and build bridges whilst building new homes and brand new people!

Making Fun – The Story of Funko

As you may have noticed in my photos, I have a budding Funko collection (*cough* possible addiction, help me *cough*), so this was a natural watch for me. It was a lot of fun – it showed Funko going from a three man band working out of their parents’ garages to a huge worldwide company connecting fans with actors, writers, artists and more, whilst giving them a fun little memento at the same time. Watching the documentary was really heartwarming actually – it shows the passion behind the company, and the detail that goes into each character. I mean, did you know they’re all handpainted in Hanoi?! Every one I own has been painted by hand, which shows the love that goes into each product.

The Staircase

I’m always looking for something that will hook me as much as Making a Murderer, and whilst The Staircase didn’t quite do that, it was pretty good! It follows Michael Peterson, an author accused of the murder of his wife when she was found at the bottom of the stairs in a pool of blood with multiple blows to the back of her head. Did he kill her, or is it possible she fell down the stairs and caused that much damage? We see forensics experts, character witnesses, behind-the-scenes scandals and more, and I have to tell you – I still don’t know if he did it. If I had to put money on it, I’d say he didn’t, but the crime scene is just crazy for someone falling down the stairs. However, I think his trial was unfair and the prosecution seemed determined to convict – though I know that the documentary is going to be in his favour so you have to take things with a pinch of salt. Have you watched it? What do you think?

Photo includes sheet masks by Tonymoly, the Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle board game, Caffe Nero frappe creme, Avon Natural bath products, and Bomb Cosmetics face wash

Sheet masks

I’m obsessed! I love the Korean skincare ones like Tonymoly’s, but I’ve discovered Aldi actually do some good ones for cheap! I have taken to whacking one of these on before I wash my hair on a Sunday, and it’s very relaxing and good for your skin!

Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle board game

We’re only on game 2, but it’s fun so far! You have a deck of character cards, then you play to defeat a villain in a certain place and to buy cards that can equip you with spells and items to help you do it quicker. Each game corresponds to a book of the series, and gets harder as it goes along! You can play each game as many times as you want – there’s so many cards that each game will be different. I also bought the expansion pack so I could unlock Luna and some new spells and items!

Caffe Nero Frappe Creme drinks

The perfect thing for this weather! I love the Belgian White Chocolate and Raspberry one – it’s like a fancy Mr Whippy!

Avon Naturals body lotion and sprays

These are so light, fruity and floral that they’re ideal for this weather! I love the scents, but I really enjoy how light the lotions are – there’s nothing worse than heavy, sticky lotions in hot weather!

Bomb Cosmetics Petal Perfect Face Wash

This smells DIVINE. Plus it’s SLS-free and full of essential oils to make your face squeaky clean and super-smelling!

How has June been for you?

Leave me a list of your favourite things this month! 🙂 

Image credit for cover image you see on the homepage for this post goes to Syd Wachs at Unsplash 🙂
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24 Comments

  1. July 4, 2018 / 10:40 am

    I didn’t realize that you hadn’t read the Lunar Chronicles yet! Even my dad as read them. 😂
    I’m definitely intrigued by The Extinction Trials. I don’t think my library has it, but maybe I can convince them to buy it. Is it dystopian, though? I’m not quite sure I’m ready for that, haha.
    I love sci-fi, but I didn’t like Annihilation at all. 🙊
    Here’s my June wrap-up: http://buecher-monster.de/2018/07/04/roundup-june-2018/ 😊

    • rhiannacampbell
      Author
      July 8, 2018 / 10:19 pm

      Haha! I’m way behind the times 😂
      Erm, hmm. Yes, I’d say it is. The start very much reminded me of Katniss and the District 12 situation. It’s very Hunger Games-esque!
      It was 99p on Kindle not so long back, not sure if it still is!
      Yeah, it was hit and miss with Annihilation for me! Up to the halfway point, I was enjoying it more than I thought I would, but then it just seemed to really distance itself from me and I just couldn’t relate to the characters at all, so I didn’t really care about the outcome!
      Ooh, awesome! Looking forward to your wrap up! Going to open it up and read it properly tomorrow when I have time to pay full attention, as I’m supposed to be asleep 😅😂

      • July 9, 2018 / 8:43 am

        It’s never too late to read a book!
        Okay, maybe I won’t rush to read it. 😂 (Amazon.com has different deals than Amazon UK)

  2. July 5, 2018 / 6:09 am

    Ooooh what a wonderful month for you!! I love these wrap ups 🙂 In June, I made good progress on my List reading project (a good mix of classics and contemporary), I’m obsessed with watching the new season of Jane The Virgin (which has *finally* come to Netflix in Australia!) and the new episodes of Younger, and I’ve discovered a new cleanskin pinot noir which has captured my heart (I could happily go swimming in a vat of it). Have a great July! <3

    • rhiannacampbell
      Author
      July 8, 2018 / 10:21 pm

      Thanks so much, Sheree! Ooh, good job! I keep meaning to make a list like that! How did you make yours?
      I’ve been meaning to watch Jane the Virgin for ages! Really must get round to it 🙊
      Omg, what’s cleanskin pinot noir?! Sounds like I need it in my life!
      You have a great July too, lovely! 💖

    • rhiannacampbell
      Author
      July 11, 2018 / 8:15 pm

      Haha! I’ve mine into it now, he’s learning that it’s not just me who’s opposed to sulphates in shampoo…haha!! xx

  3. Roxie
    July 12, 2018 / 7:17 pm

    The Huger Games meets Jurassic Park?! Sold! I love Queer Eye too. I watched both seasons over one weekend and I already have serious withdrawal.

    • rhiannacampbell
      Author
      July 12, 2018 / 8:48 pm

      Haha, it was pretty good!
      I’m pacing myself! I’m still only on season 1! Watched a few earlier though! 😎

  4. July 12, 2018 / 7:21 pm

    I’ve recently been wanting to get back into reading. I’m mainly a huge sucker for cheesy love stories but I’d love to read something more out of my comfort zone and these books look very interesting! Also my favourites from June would have to be my brand new Gucci Bloom perfume as well as The Kissing Booth on Netflix – I’m obsessed!!

    • rhiannacampbell
      Author
      July 12, 2018 / 8:52 pm

      Try the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before series! They’re really cute and being made into a Netflix movie!

      Ooh, I love the bottle on Gucci Bloom if I’m thinking of the right one – the one with the flower on the lid?
      I haven’t seen the Kissing Booth! I’ll look it up! 😘

    • rhiannacampbell
      Author
      July 12, 2018 / 8:53 pm

      Thanks lovely! Yes, I love them! They’re just so good for relaxing you and making your skin feel great! 😘

  5. July 12, 2018 / 7:31 pm

    Ooh what a fab list of things!! I also love colin the caterpillars, I’m especially such a huge fan of the cherry ones! Have you tried the colin the caterpillar mini rolls!? THEY ARE DIVINE. Queer Eye is also something I’ve been loving and hell yeah to the Bomb Cosmetics face wash! I’m such a massive fan of SO many of their products!
    Alice Xx
    http://www.blacktulipbeauty.co.uk

    • rhiannacampbell
      Author
      July 12, 2018 / 8:58 pm

      I like Colin’s girlfriend as well 😂 omg no! I’m in a whole new world of Colin things 😂
      Yes, it’s so good! Ooh I’m fairly new to Bomb Cosmetic​s outside of their bath bombs! Lots more to try!

  6. venus aby
    July 12, 2018 / 7:44 pm

    I’ve only read Cinder and I thought it was amazing! I should probably go and read the rest of the books, Scarlet seems good so I hope the rest are too! Queer Eye seems great, I’ve been holding off watching it but I definitely want to start it now!

    venus | https://venusaby.blogspot.com

    • rhiannacampbell
      Author
      July 12, 2018 / 9:01 pm

      You should! They’re all just as good!

      Ooh yeah, it’s good fun! Give it a watch 😘

  7. July 12, 2018 / 8:01 pm

    This post has made me realise how much I love reading and how I desperately need to find some time to read The Lunar Chronicles – they sound so good! I also think The Extinction Trials sounds like an interesting read. I’ll add them all to my bookshelf immediately! Also, I need to get that Harry Potter board game and the next time I’m in M&S I’m hunting out Colin the Caterpillar! 🙂

  8. July 12, 2018 / 8:57 pm

    I was wondering what Krysten Ritter’s book was like – been meaning to give it a read! You’ve certainly packed a lot into your June. I’ve just been rereading Harry Potters five and six, because it’s been so long since I read them!

    • rhiannacampbell
      Author
      July 12, 2018 / 9:08 pm

      Yeah, it wasn’t a bad book, but just overhyped I thought! I certainly tried!
      Oh, I love a good Harry Potter reread! I’m definitely due one​! 😎

  9. July 12, 2018 / 9:37 pm

    The Lunar Chronicles has been on my TBR list for so many months now and I’m half way through Heartless by Marissa Meyer so will be swiftly moving onto Cinder when I’m finished. 🙂
    I’m not really surprised about the Annihilation book, I found the movie to be so overly confusing for no reason so it never even occured to me to try out the book. 🙊
    I’ve heard amazing things about Queer Eye but am yet to watch it – however I did marathon The Staircase with my boyfriend recently and found it fascinating! I originally thought he was guilty but definitely think the system was determined to take him down now that I’ve watched it and read up more information that wasn’t shown :O Did you hear about the Owl Theory? Crazy stuff! 😅

    Great wrap up xx

    Jessica | jessinwonderland.com

    • rhiannacampbell
      Author
      July 12, 2018 / 10:30 pm

      Oh, Heartless is on my list too! We’ll be reading in reverse of each other! 😂
      The movie was really confusing, wasn’t it?! It was really nice visually, but yeah, at the end, I was literally like “what? Why? How?!” 😂 The book is very different, pretty much just the characters are the same!
      Queer Eye is good fun! Yeah, same! I thought how could she have got that from falling down the stairs, but I think regardless of whether he’s guilty or innocent, the state definitely had an agenda!
      Omg, no, what’s the Owl Theory?! Please tell me more, I’m intrigued now 😂

      Thanks Jess!! 😘💖xx

  10. July 16, 2018 / 10:56 pm

    Some great favs here! I have actually started a new book and I am really liking it. It’s ‘bring me back’ by B A Paris! xx
    https://beaulife.org

    • rhiannacampbell
      Author
      July 26, 2018 / 4:06 pm

      Thanks Huda! 😘 Ooh, I’ve heard of that author but haven’t tried anything! I’ll have to have a look! Thanks for the recommendation! ❤️xx

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