Thursday, January 25, 2018

My Life in Books Tag

Happy Birthday to me!
Happy Birthday to me!
Happy Birthday to MEEE!
Happy Birthday to me!

In case you haven't realised (because I was super subtle) it's my birthday. Well it's my birthday tomorrow but it's practically the same thing. So to celebrate I thought it would be fun to do a tag all about me and my love for books so you can get to know me a little better.

Let's go!

1- Find a book for each initial in your forename.
Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant; Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi; Am I Normal Yet by Holly Bourne

2-Count your age along your bookshelf- what book is it?
16- Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman
17 (for tomorrow!)- The Beginning Woods by Malcolm McNeill

3- Pick a book set in your city/state/country.
I couldn't think of any set in Belgium, but The 3 Serpents of the North Door by Saul Penfold is set in Norwich (where I was born).

4-Pick a world in a book you want to travel to.
Harry Potter (obviously) or Amulet by Kazu Kishubi

5- Pick a book that's your favourite colour.
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson.

6- Pick a book you have the fondest memories of.

7- Which book did you have the most difficulty reading?
1984 by George Orwell; it took me almost 4 years before I finally finished this book.

8- Which book on TBR would give you the greatest sense of accomplishment when you finish it?
The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks. It looks so massive on my bookshelf that I can't wait for the day I finally finish it!

What's your favourite book? When's your birthday?
Let me know in the comments below!

And until next time, keep reading!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Page: 360
Rating: 💜💜💜💜
Buy it: Amazon | Book Depository

5 people walk into detention together. But only 4 people come out alive.
Each of them has a motive for murder.
But who did it?

Full synopsis here

I really loved this book. I know a lot of people called it cliche and predictable, but I had fun reading this story. Even if it was inspired very heavily by Breakfast Club, I think it was a good book.

Each of the characters has a secret that could destroy them, and for this reason they will do whatever it takes to keep their secret from getting out. When the 'secret leaker' of the school dies in detention with the four protagonists they are immediately the prime suspects. We then spend the remainder of the book seeing these characters trying to solve the murder mystery and stay out of trouble. I really enjoyed this 'Breakfast Club with a twist' and, as a big Agatha Christie fan, had a fun time trying to solve the mystery alongside the other characters. To me the plot wasn't at all predictable, although maybe I'm just a very unobservant person!

The characters were all very likeable as well. Sure, their cliche personalities were debunked in a very basic way but they were all likeable in their own ways. There wasn't a point in this book where I didn't like any of the characters (apart from maybe Simon) because they all seemed fairly real. They were rounded individuals who had personalities, motives and flaws. They felt real and, as soon as their secrets were revealed, not cliche at all. There was definitely no Mary-Sue in this book.

Of course, this book wasn't perfect. There were times in this book where I had to flick back to start of chapters to remember whose POV I was reading. This became less of a problem as I got further into the book and became more familiar with the characters, but there was literally no difference between the writing style for Bronwyn and Cooper, who are in different situations and are different genders! This problem made my reading experience a little jerky (I had to keep on stopping and starting) but it didn't take too much away from the story.

Overall, this was a fun YA murder mystery. There was some diversity (bi-racial character, gay character) which was nice to see, especially as it didn't use this fact as a selling point. I would recommend this book to anyone who would like to read a light murder story, especially if you are in the YA age group.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Pages: 465
Rating: 💜💜💜💜
Buy it: Amazon | Book Depository

It should have taken Juliette one touch to kill Warner. But his immunity to her deadly power has left her shaken, wondering why her ultimate defense mechanism failed against the person she most needs protection from. She and Adam were able to escape Warner and join a group of rebels with their own powers. Juliette will now fight against The Reestablishment to try and fix her broken world.

I enjoyed this book a lot more than Shatter Me; the writing style didn't feel so jerky and there were times where everything seemed to flow together effortlessly. The characters were so much more developed in this book and I loved all the interactions between Juliette and Kenji because they are both so funny and sassy.

My main problem with this book was the actual plot. There were times throughout the story where everything that everyone was doing wasn't logical and should have been thought out more. Obviously there are times when people just jump to conclusions but in Unravel Me it seemed like they were constantly jumping to conclusions. The story takes place in a military base yet they couldn't sit down for five minutes to decide what they were going to do. And when they did think and planned one of two things happened: 1) something would happen that would mean the plans needed to change or 2) they would go out without a backup plan to save them! Which inevitably meant that something was going to go wrong!

My favourite part of this book was definitely the characters; they made the book a 4 star instead of a 3 star book. They were a lot more developed than in Shatter Me and I actually began to fall in love with all of them. Juliette is so weak and broken that I just want to climb into the book and hug her because she really needs a friend in her life. She is a lot stronger in this book, and I felt like we really get to see her character grow. Kenji is the same funny, sarcastic character that we got introduced to in Shatter Me, although we did get to see more of him in this book (last book he kind of just popped in halfway through).

And now onto the two main boys of this story: Adam and Warner. I loved both of them equally but I was frustrated with Tahereh Mafi and the way she was writing these characters. I adored Adam in the first book; he was kind and considerate and honestly everything that Juliette needed in her life. He risked everything he had to stay with Juliette including his own brother's safety. Honestly he was perfect. Warner was the polar opposite of Adam. He was evil and manipulative and he was one of those villains that I loved to hate. He treated Juliette like garbage and I was so glad when Adam took her out of that toxic relationship. But then I read this book and it was so obvious what Tahereh was trying to do because suddenly Adam was all distant and secretive but Warner was all kind and understanding and had a troubled past and I am not into it. I'm really sorry to all the Warnette shippers but I 'm not ready to ship them yet. Maybe in Ignite Me, but not right now.

I did enjoy this book for the most part (it was much better than Shatter Me), but there were certain things that annoyed me. Obviously you'd have to read Shatter Me before reading this book otherwise you'll be very lost with the plot. I would recommend you read this series though before it is a fun take on the dystopian future idea, with a very prominent romance plot.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The (Birthday) Cake Tag

It's my birthday next week and I'm super excited! There'll be presents, parties and the main attraction: cake. I love cake so much; it's the type of food you eat when you need to feel better after a long, hard week. So to celebrate cake I thought I'd do this tag.

I'm not too sure of the origins of this tag, but if you do know please leave a comment with where you found it. And now onto the questions!

Chocolate Cake:
A dark book you absolutely love.

It's not very dark but I loved The Wave by Morton Rhue. It was such a twisted story about control and obedience that I was terrifed of my teachers for months after reading it.

Vanilla Cake:
A light read.

I love contemporary books; they're so cheerful that you can't help but feel happy after you've read one. My favourite light read has got to be Lola and the Boy Next Door because it is so adorable, but also so realistic!

Red Velvet:
A book that gave you mixed emotions.

There have been a lot of books over the years that I've had mixed emotions about. However the one I always think of whenever someone asks me is Allegiant by Veronica Roth. I loved it when I first read but over time I started to spot the flaws in the story and now I'm not so sure about it.

A book you would recommend to anyone.

People ask me to recommend books to them all the time so I've gotten pretty good at guessing the types of books a person might enjoy. However I am absolutely awful at recommend a book to a big group of people because I just want everyone to read my favourite books. At the moment I think I would recommend the Amulet series because a such fun books to read.

Coffee Cake:
A book you started but never finished.

Most recently I DNF-ed After Alice by Gregory Maguire because the story just dragged on without any real excitement. I wish I could go back and get back the time I wasted trying to finish this book!

Carrot Cake:
A book with great writing.

So much choice! I'm going to go with The Book Theif by Marcus Zusak because the narrative in this book is absolutely beautiful. I loved the whole concept of this book and how delicate every sentence seemed.

A book that left you wanting more.

Basically any Rainbow Rowell book because I always have so many unanswered questions after reading one of her books. I grow too attached to her characters and then I want to find out every little detail about what happens after the books finish.

A series with 4+ books.

Most series I read have 4+ books (otherwise they're a duology/trilogy) but my favourite series has to be the Shadowhunter series. There are definitely more than 4 books in this series, and I don't think Cassandra Clare is ever going to finish this series!

Fruit Cake:
A book that wasn't what you anticipated.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. I was expecting to hate this book (having just given up on Twilight and all other supernatural books) but I was pleasantly surprised by it.

What is your favourite and least favourite type of cake? Do you prefer light or dark reads?
Let me know in the comments below!

And until next time, keep reading! 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Authors I discovered last year

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme run by the ladies over at The Broke and Bookish.

Last year I tried to read from new and more diverse authors, and I think I did a pretty good job. Obviously I had to read books from some of my favourite authors, but I also found some new favourite authors this year.

1- Siobhan Vivian: I read The List right at the start of the year and loved it. It was such a great book, so I'm going to try read more of her books this year. 

2- Marissa Meyer: I finally started to read the Lunar Chronicles, reading both Cinder and Scarlet last year. I've already bought Cress, and I'm planning to read it this year.

3- Jenny Han: I read a lot of Jenny Han last year. I read The Summer I Turned Pretty, It's Not Summer Without You, To All The Boys I Loved Before, and P.S I Still Love You. They were all fun reads, and I want to finish both series soon!

4- Nicola Yoon: I read both of Nicola Yoon's books last year, and was really pleased with the amount of representation in both books. I'm not sure if the representation was completely accurate but it was nice to see it there.

5- Tahereh Mafi: I have a sort of love-hate relationship with Tahereh Mafi; at first I didn't really enjoy her writing style, but as time went on I appreciated it more and more. I can't wait for her new book next year!

6- Jandy Nelson: I read The Sky is Everywhere, and it stayed one of my favourite books of all year. I loved her writing style and how art plays a major role in her story. I'm going to read I'll Give You The Sun this summer because I've heard it is even better than her other book.

7- Alyssa B. Sheinmal: My favourite book of the year, Faceless, was written by this woman, and I never realised she had written other books. Her story captivated me entirely, and I want to see how good her other books are.

8- Sarah Dessan: I'm a little late (very, very, extremely late) on the Sarah Dessan train, but I'm glad I finally jumped on her train. I read Once and for all in December, and really enjoined it. I think I'm in a contemporary kick at the moment so I might have to pick up some more of her books soon!

9- Morgan Matson: Another author I'm late to, but once again I really enjoyed what I read. So far I've only read The Unexpected Everything but I'm sure I'll read more, especially now that I'm in a contemporary kick.

10- Robin LaFevers: I've had Grave Mercy on my shelf for a few years now, and I finally got to it this Summer. I have no idea why I left it so long because this book is amazing! At some point I'll get to the rest of the series because I loved Robin LaFever's writing style.

Which new authors did you discover last year? Are any of them on my list?
Let me know in the comments below!

And until next time, keep reading!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index by Julie Israel

 Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index by Julies Israel
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Pages: 338
Buy it: Amazon | Book Depository
Sixty-five days after the death of her sister, Juniper Lemon discovers a letter addressed to 'You' which was written by Camille the day she died. Juni is shocked- she knew nothing of this 'You' , and the hole in her life has grown bigger. She is determined to uncover the identity of You and deliver the letter. But what Juniper doesn't expect is that in searching for You she will unearth many other secrets- and that may be what she needs to sort out her own mess. 

I will admit I picked this book up for the cover and would have happily read it without looking at the synopsis. The picture really doesn't give the cover enough credit because it is much more colourful in real life. I love this cover so much!

This book is your stereotypical high-school contemporary but I loved it so much. Maybe it was the time I was reading it or the mood I was in but for some reason this book did all the right things for me. It is very cliched and stereotypical so if you get easily annoyed by that I would avoid this book. However I didn't mind the cliches and loved the whole high school setting that this book took place in.

One of the things that set this book aside from all the other contemporaries was the amount of 'heavy' topics this book addressed. There was obviously the topic of death and acceptance, which I felt was dealt with really well. Juniper is still trying to accept her sister's death and it is definitely something that drives the plot along throughout this book. There are other themes, like abuse and mental health, which are mentioned a couple of times in this story and are important in their own ways. I won't talk about how these themes are involved in the story but I loved how such dark topics were dealt with.

When I was reading about Juniper and her group of friends I felt so cosy and happy. They are literally the definition of squad goals; they all support each other and give each other advice when it is needed. Julie Israel did an awesome job at creating unique and individual characters that I fell in love immediately. They all so real that when I finished this book I felt liked I'd lost a group of friends.

I adore this book. It is definitely up there with my all time favourite books that I've read this year and I wish that more people would read this book. I would recommend it to people who want a slightly deeper contemporary novel with a cute romance or people who suffer from anxiety or depression. This book shows you how to be happy with your life and cope with the down days. Honestly I could go into so much more detail about this book, but I don't want to spoil anything bout this story (also the review would be about 10 pages long)!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Release Date: January 6, 2015
Pages: 388
Rating: 💜💜💜💜
Buy it: Amazon | Book Depository
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it's unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the 'natural wonders' of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It's only with Violet that Finch can be himself - a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who's not such a freak after all. And it's only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet's world grows, Finch's begins to shrink. 

I'm not sure what I think of this book. It is simultaneously a heart-breaking and uplifting story of love and loss and I really have no idea what to think of it. There were parts of it that I adored but now on reflection there were a couple of things that I did not agree with at all.

Things I loved:
  1. The whole travelling and adventure plot of the book. I love going on adventures to different monuments around the world so to see it in this book was incredible. I loved the descriptions of each place and I got intense wanderlust from it.
  2. The mental illness representation in this book was actually pretty good. Okay, it wasn't great but it was pretty incredible. The funny thing (possibly not funny but kind of) is that it deals with two different types of mental illness, PTSD and bipolar, without making it very obvious.
  3. The writing style was incredible in this book. I flew through it and actually managed to finish it in a day. The chapters alternate between Finch and Violet which leads to an interesting reading experience as they are both so different. Finch is a raw ball of energy that has no limits whereas Violet is calm and gentle, just trying to get through each day.
  4. The fact that nothing particularly special happened throughout the course of this book set it apart from all the other YA books I've read recently. It was just a book about two people doing ordinary things and living their lives.
Things I didn't like:
  1. I thought the relationship between Finch and Violet was a little abusive. Finch would 'force' Violet to do things with him and then leave her months on end without talking to her. I understand that he wasn't in the best place mentally but I do think that more YA books need to promote healthy relationships.
  2. Both of the characters became their mental illnesses at certain points in the book which is also not a healthy message to send to young people. Neither of them seemed to have a life outside of their feelings so it became hard to identify with them. Finch was literally always consumed by his mental illness and Violet dipped in and out. I would have loved to have seen both the characters as humans rather than mental illnesses because it would have made the story more interesting.

It wasn't the best book in the world, but I didn't hate it like some people did. I loved the whole plot and premise of this story but I felt it could have been executed better. If you do suffer from any mental illness this book might not be the best read for you as it does romanticise suicide and depression, but it is for you to judge. Personally I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a fun adventure contemporary with a darker undertone.