Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Travel

I plan on doing a lot of travelling in my 'Golden Year' so these are the top ten places I want to visit! I don't think I'll manage to actually visit all these places between the end of my Golden Year next May but one can hope!


I have yet to visit the capital of Spain, which is shocking as I have visited every other Western European capital and have been to Spain and Spanish territories more times than I can count! I'm excited to see all the culture and history Madrid has to offer. I'm planning a nice relaxing sunny city break with one of best school friends in September. Hopefully it will still be warm and less busy than school holidays!

A friend of mine is doing a placement in Brussels and promised me a bed in exchange for visiting! I've been to Belgium quite a few times and I really like it as it's such a mixpot country.  I see Brussels as my 'gateway' city to interrailling Europe as I plan to focus on central/eastern Europe it makes sense to head to Brussels first. Plus Belgium is so compact I can use Brussels as a base to explore Belgium too :)


Ireland remains the last country of the British Isles for me to visit- ironic as I live closer to Ireland than Scotland! I've heard great things about Dublin and I've thinking a long catch up weekend with a Uni friend would be the perfect excuse! :)
Los Angeles
One of my best friends is doing a year abroad in LA! It would be rude not to visit.... Especially as I have yet to cross the Atlantic :) We are thinking (depending on money) of doing a road trip across country to.... 
 New York!

As a girl obsessed by big cities, fashion and American TV it's no wonder that I have dreamt of New York for years! Road tripping there would be the ultimate dream <3.

Another interrail stop! I have been in awe of the beautiful architecture and history of Vienna for years! I want to see it all- I love European palaces and architecture style. My camera will be fully charged for this one!
In my mind Budapest and Vienna go hand in hand- possibly because of Austria and Hungary's linked history, possibly because I like pair things up! Either way this is another beautiful city I want to explore! It will also be a relaxing spot as Budapest is the City of Spas! How relaxing does the picture look?
One of my Uni friends lives here and it looks like such a fun and sunshine place! If you live in the UK you will understand how badly I crave sunshine and beaches right now!

I have of course been to London before but there is so much to see! London is having a golden year itself with the Jubilee and the Olympics so I'm excited to go for a long weekend and take it all in- it's only an hour's train journey away!

My friend's boyfriend swears Croatia is the most beautiful European country he has been too! From the pictures it looks gorgeous- I'm including Zagreb on my interrail plan to get a feel for Croatia.


I plan on finishing my interrail adventure in Geneva. I really want to see the Reformation Museum and the Palais of Nations- two attractions which frame two very important European historical events. It's an expensive place to stay but I'm hoping it will be a nice last few days before conveniently flying directly home!

I'm so excited to actually travel- let me know if you've been to any of these places or if you have any suggestions!
Much love

Monday, 25 June 2012

Monday Round Up!

One of my favourite memes hosted by the lovely Shelia over at Book Journey

Reviews Posted

The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate

Other posts

Top Ten Summer Reads- Check out what books I plan on reading this summer :)


 Loved this! Another beautifully crafted world- such detail :)


Speeding through I Heart London- Still love Angela and I love seeing her in London :)
I should be reunited with Second Chance Summer this week and I can't wait!  

To Be Read!

Perhaps Crossed- not sure if I want to hold off as it's a middle book and those always make you desperate for the last one!
I've got two weeks of full on 10-5 work plus moving everything back into my small bedroom at home to do so I may stick to quick reads :)

New Books!

Went to buy Crossed and Divergent came back with Under the Never Sky which just caught my eye- think the Dystopia challenge is getting to me!
Not a massive fan of the cover now  I've seen the US one though!

Upcoming Posts

Top Ten Travel edition- my top ten places I want to visit before my next birthday!
Lettie Loves- I used to do little posts on things I was loving that week, might bring it back as I really liked them :)
Post on series vs stand alones when it comes to books- It seems like every book I pick up lately is part of a series!

If any of this sounds remotely interesting to you let me know :)
Also I'd love to hear what you're up to book or blog wise this week!

Much Love

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Top Ten Tuesday!

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by: The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they hosted a themed Top Ten- this week is: Books we are most looking forward to reading this summer.

To me summer reads are holiday books, books I'd take to the beach or read on the plane or in the car!

In no particular order!

I Heart London by Lindsey Kelk/ Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

These two should be no surprises as they have featured on my Monday posts!
As I mentioned in my review of Amy and Roger's Epic Detour Morgan Matson is my current go to summer author and I am so excited to read her latest book!
I heart Lindsey Kelk so I'm looking forward to reading more of Angela's adventures!

Divergent by Veronica Roth/ Matched by Ally Condie
Both of these are less traditional beachy reads but I've been waiting to get into these series for ages and summer is going to be my last big stretch of free time to devote to reading!
I'm already halfway through Matched and I'm loving it! 

In Honor by Jessi Kirby/The Thing about the Truth by Lauren Barnholdt

I've loved Lauren Barnholdt since Two Way Street and her books never disappoint. They are always fun, realistic and quick reads! I can't wait for her new book!
In Honor sounds like Two Way Street and Amy and Roger's Epic Detour as it's based around a road trip! I love the sounds of it and it's had positive reviews so far.

I've hesitated over this Lauren Barnholdt book as it's only available as a e book but I love her too much to miss out!
Pushing the Limits reminds me of the Simone Elkeles Perfect Chemistry series which I enjoyed last summer. The blurb sounds very interesting and hot! Perfect beach read :)

This series has been the edge of my TBR pile for ages!
I've heard nothing but good things about it so I'm looking forward to finally giving it a chance.

I'm hoping for summer weather to go with all these fabulous looking books!
Let me know what you plan on reading this summer!

Much love!

Monday, 18 June 2012

The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate

All it takes is one fatal mistake . . .
High-school beauty Natalie Hargrove has spent years plotting to become prom queen. She’s got just what it takes: popularity, glamour and ruthless ambition. When someone threatens to overturn her perfect plan, Natalie needs to take control. But a critical error plunges her into a sea of secrets, shame and scandal. Because it turns out there’s one thing even Natalie Hargrove can’t command – and that’s fate.

  I picked this book up as I was eager to sample Lauren Kate's writing but didn't want to dive into Fallen. The story centres around Natalie Hargrove and her need to be crowned Palmetto Princess- the whole story takes place in such a relatively short time for so much to happen. Natalie sees it as the defining moment of her transformation from Cawdor trailer park to Palmetto Queen Bee. Her boyfriend Mike King doesn't take it as seriously and it is paramount that they be crowned together as the alternative prince is J.B, Natalie's long time rival. This one desire sparks off an unfortunate chain of events for Natalie. I loved how the first chapter really set up the social hierarchy and importance of the Palmetto Court in the eyes of the students and to a certain extent their families, it made some of the decisions and small things make sense.

   I actually found Natalie likable. Behind her shallow greed and single-mindedness, I could see a girl thrown off course by one harmless prank who was just desperate to keep the life she fought so hard for. The prank they play on J.B would have been seen as a meaningless joke if not for a tragic secret. I felt for Natalie as she seemed to have few real friends to turn to and Mike turned out to be rather weak willed. I did feel her back story could have afforded at least another chapter to show how she'd got to where she was. For example, Natalie's father makes a comeback in her life but this is never really dealt with which frustrated me.

  The supporting cast of characters are very well fleshed out and complex. Mike was a very good boyfriend to begin with his laid back attitude did complement Natalie’s determination however this coupled with his inability to do what he thought was right or follow through really annoyed me. He claimed he wanted to come forward after the prank but it didn't take much for Natalie to persuade him and then he just didn't commit to the cover up like she did. A lot of side characters did seem to be there solely for plot movement or to add pressure etc and flitted in and out of importance. Natalie's potential stepsister seemed quite meek and submissive then suddenly grown a backbone which seemed rather out of character. However, due to the viewpoint of the story, you never got to see their true motives or feelings and this confusion did enhance Natalie’s isolation.

   The ending felt a bit abrupt to me. The explanation of Natalie and J.B's rivalry was very subtly hinted at throughout the book and then thrown in at the end. I feel it could have been brought up earlier or been more obvious as it made Natalie's actions towards J.B much less vindictive and bitchy. However, the sudden ending was very effective. It tied up loose ends but left you wondering about small side plots such as how J.B really felt about Natalie, what happened to Baxter and how the investigation went. Which in a way is very clever as it keeps you thinking

    With the UK blurb, I missed the fact that it is a Macbeth retelling/reimagining, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up if I’d known, (Macbeth holds bad memories of exams!). However once I knew it was hard not to see connections and pick out little links to the Play. I loved the portrayal of the Witches as New Age juniors who were just going through a rebellious hippy phase. I liked the fact that Natalie was clearly the more ambitious one so she saw the apparitions, made the decisions, consulted the 'witches' and was the stronger person rather than Mike (Macbeth). However, I found Natalie to be a much more sympathetic character than either Macbeth or Lady Macbeth. I enjoyed that the 'wrong side of the tracks' where Natalie came from was named Cawdor and that Mike's surname was King, these little links were cleverly slotted in and didn't detach from the plot. Thinking about it now I can think of so many character parallels and connections that I didn't pick up straight up that I almost want to reread both Macbeth and Natalie.

This book engaged me from start to finish with a fast paced plot, well developed and complex characters and a very clever setting. I am so glad I brought it because I will definitely be picking it up again and again!

Let me know your thoughts on the Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove or link me to your review if you've written one.
Much Love!

Monday Round Up! What are you reading?

One of my favourite memes hosted by the lovely Shelia over at Book Journey

Reviews Posted

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins


 I had great plans to do alot of reading while helping out at a Year 6 camp... Children are so tiring and I forgot camping means torch light only!  Had to make do with Hunger Games discussion with my best friend and fellow supervisor.


Loving this so far! Staying in the Dystopia genre :)

To Be Read!

Gutted that I left the box with Second Chance Summer at my University house while I went on a Year Six camp :(. These two remain at the top of the To Be Read list!

Reviews Coming Up
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate- a repost of one of my first reviews!

Let me know what you're up to book or blog wise this week!

Much Love

Sunday, 17 June 2012

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Set in a dark vision of the near future, a terrifying reality TV show is taking place. Twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live event called The Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed. When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her younger sister's place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

  This book has been surrounded by a lot of hype which combined with the less than appealing covers (UK) deterred me from picking it up. Well I learnt my lesson- never judge a book by it's cover! The Hunger Games was the first book in ages to keep me up late reading because I could not put it down! It was an exhilarating, emotional, suspense filled roller coaster of a read. I am glad I waited until the whole trilogy was available because I devoured them in a matter of days! This review will not spoil any of the subsequent books but it will spoil The Hunger Games a little!

   The Hunger Games is set in a futurist North America totalitarian state arranged into 12 distinct districts and the Capitol. The background to the book was interwoven with the story in a way that didn't feel you were being bogged down with needless information. The geographical detail was cleverly incorporated and very well thought out. District 12 itself was a brief setting of the book yet it was described so well and so important to the main characters that I could vividly imagine all the major areas. The brief alliance of Katniss and Rue gave a lot of information on District 11 once again showing how well though out the background to the novel was. The portrayal of the Capitol of vain and vapid yet innocent in a way was very realistic. The actual population weren't necessarily cruel just desensitised to the realities of the Hunger Games. They seemed to view the Hunger Games without an awareness that they were watching children be murdered by other children. he Hunger Games themselves were an awful concept but portrayed brilliantly, it was evident how they were a tool of the Capitol and the divisions they caused. They were a little gruesome in description but I focused on the characters!

   Katniss Everdeen was a tough main character. I can't say we had much in common but the first person narrative of the book worked really well. It allowed you to see through Katniss' eyes and understand her motivations and actions so much so that I bonded with her character. I loved her interpretation and reaction to all the twists as  it made them more surprising and random than they would have been in a third person narrative. It also left me frustrated at her naivety at times which again shows the power of the first person narrative.

I loved the secondary characters and side cast! All of them were fleshed out irregardless of the size of their role. For example most of the tributes were described through the reaping, interviews and their actions so you got an idea of their characters through Katniss' opinion of their importance and the threat they posed with the actual characters getting little scene time. I'm going to focus on my favourites in this book as I could talk endlessly about certain characters whose roles are built upon in later books.
 I loved Peeta, through Katniss' eyes he was very much an unknown entity but I enjoyed watching them form their alliance and relationship. I enjoyed his different outlook despite their shared district, it added dimensions to Katniss' opinion and ex He was very layered as a character being more privileged but showing signs of dissent and his dedication feelings for Katniss was so admirable.
Gale, through Katniss' eyes seemed very closed off despite their obvious closeness. This was where I found Katniss naive and oblivious because I thought it was obvious that her and Gale would have ended up together if the Reaping hadn't happened purely as all they seemed to have was each other!
I loved Cinna, he was so visionary but not overtaken by the vain Capitol attitude. I liked how he initially treated Katniss and Peeta as genuine competitors with an equal chance. I also loved the relationship he developed with Katniss.
    My favourite tribute, outside of District 12, was of course Rue. Although she reminded Katniss of Prim I found her to be very similar to Katniss. Mature and wise beyond her years due to her role as oldest sibling and very resourceful. I think her death was one of the most poignant moments of the book and probably the whole series.

I honestly can't find fault with this book- it was addictive and well thought out, the characters were perfectly created and fleshed out, the setting was brilliantly complex and the sub context of the Games was clever.
The Hunger Games is officially one of my all time favourite books!

Much Love!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Amy Curry is having a terrible year. Her mother has decided to move all the way across the country and needs Amy to drive their car from California to the East Coast. There's just one problem: since the death of her father, Amy hasn't been able to get behind the wheel of a car. Enter Roger, the son of an old family friend, who turns out to be unexpectedly cute...and dealing with some baggage of his own. Meeting new people and coming to terms with her father's death were not part of Amy's plans for the road trip. But then neither was driving on the Loneliest Road in America, seeing the Colorado Mountains, visiting diners, dingy motels and Graceland. But as they drive, and she grows closer to Roger, Amy finds that the people you least expected are the ones you need the most - - and that sometimes you have to get lost in order to find your way home.

I loved this book so much I could of followed Amy and Roger through all 50 states and up to Canada! The last line of the blurb is so poignant and true to their journey.

The plot complemented the journey perfectly and the cast of minor characters were so well thought out, each one played a significant if brief role. My personal favourite was Bronwyn who was the perfect girl to briefly befriend Amy with her southern hospitality.

I really felt for Amy throughout the book. The first chapter set up her character and gave enough background to intrigue you. The flashbacks slowly reveal what Amy was like before her father's death and the circumstances surrounding the death. Making it so clear to see how the death has affected not only Amy and her life but her family too. Her brother Charlie really intrigued me and the little snippets we got were perfect in giving the idea of a sibling relationship that wasn't perfect or extremely close but very real and important to the characters.

I loved Roger! His story was a little more light hearted but he was such a gentleman and the perfect travel companion throughout the book.

The relationship between Amy and Roger is kind of in the background for a lot of the book but it progresses rapidly  from family friends who can barely remember each other to friends who have spent so many significant moments together during the trip. I loved how the ending is resolved yet open to the future.

I loved the little details such as the receipts from hotels and restaurants which make you feel like you are part of the road trip too and the summaries of each state they passed through was brilliant!

I'm now solidly a Morgan Matson fan and I'm eagerly awaiting her next book!
If you haven't checked out this book yet do it! You will not regret it :)
If you've already read Epic Detour try Two Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt. Epic Detour reminded me of it in ways- Two Way  Street included less travel details but it's a very good read.

Much Love!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Monday! What are you reading?

One of my favourite memes hosted by the lovely Shelia over at Book Journey


I have devoured these books since Friday! I would have finished all of them but Mockingjay has so far eluded me- I'm hitting three bookshops today to find it :)


No surprises here! I'm probably half way through by now!

To Read!

These are two new releases I have been dying to get my hands on! So excited for these two :)

Let me know what you're up to book wise!

Much Love



I am firmly (fingers crossed!) back into reading for fun!
To kick start what I foresee as a summer of books I've signed up for a few challenges!

Those Books I Should Have Read 2012 Reading Challenge
hosted by Reading With Martinis

This is the perfect summer challenge for me as I have so many books I feel I should of read by now or that sit on my book shelf taunting me! This one will work especially well this summer as I have a brand new bookcase so I will be going through all of my books and seeing what lurks in the back rows hidden from view!

I'm aiming for level two which is twelve books- hopefully not aiming too high!
Books I've got lined up for this one so far are-
  1. All of the Hunger Games trilogy- I will be counting them separately!
  2. The Hobbit- My best friend has been recommending this one since Primary school, with the movie coming out this year I thought it was high time I got around to reading it!
  3. The Percy Jackson Series- Will probably just count the first one of this series as they are pretty short!
  4. Heaven's Net is Wide by Lian Hearn- This book taunts me from my book shelf at home.
I've already started on this one by finally reading the Hunger Games- I even skipped the film as I felt I should at least read the book first...

Dystopia 2012 Challenge
hosted by Bookish Ardour

I know I'm late to get in to this genre! Dystopia never really appealed to me but the Hunger Games have sucked me in and I'm determined to give it a fair chance!
I'm aiming for the asocial level of 5 books which I've already picked out!
  1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  2. Catching Fire bySuzanne Collins
  3. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  4. Matched by Ally Condie
  5. Crossed by Ally Condie
I think I can even go for the extra challenges of gender battle seeing as both authors are female and World if I'm right in thinking Matched is set in America.

Finishing the Series Reading Challenge 2012
hosted by Socrates Book Review Blog

During University I became terrible for starting series and then getting bogged down by work and never finishing them! It's half the reason I never started The Hunger Games!

I'm aiming for Level Two which is two series's
  1. Tales of the Otori series- I have Heaven's Net is Wide and The Harsh Cry of the Heron left to read. Both of which are sat on my shelf staring me down!
  2. The Chronicles of Pellinor- I have the majority left, The Riddle, The Crow and The Singing.
These two especially Pellinor are most subject to change as I empty my bookcase because I have a feeling I probably have a few series of which I own all the books!

My plan at the moment is for the first two challenges to be mostly wrapped up by the end of summer with the series challenge lasting until December.
A few of the books overlap but that's just coincidence!

I'm excited to get stuck in and read books I've had around for ages for fun not work!

Much Love

Monday, 4 June 2012

Welcome and 3Ws!

Welcome to Above Average Below Special!

My name is Lettie. I am your average 22 year old girl with lots of passions and lots to say!

Above Average Below Special was planned as a blog haven for my love of shopping, cooking, reading and student life!
However it evolved in to a primarily book based blog filled with reviews, the occasional blog tour and general posts concerning my love of books!

Like most students I love reading other people's blogs and as a New Year Resolution I decided to start my own.
After a rocky start coupled with personal issues and illness I decided to focus Above Average Below Special on what I had found the most rewarding to blog about... books!
I have no  experience in the Blog world but if you stick with me as I find my feet I'm sure I'll get the hang of it :).

So feel free to drop me a comment and stay tuned. :)

Much Love,