Friday, 14 July 2017

Quick Reviews - In Which I'm Not Loving Contemporaries But Am Loving Maggie Stiefvater

After deciding to take a little break from blogging in May and so having a fair bit to catch up on come mid-June, I found myself with quite a few books that I wanted to review, but couldn't really find the time to actually do so because I had so many other posts already lined up.  So, I decided to give an idea that I've been wanted to try for a while a go; to combine my reviews into one post in which I can give you more of my thoughts than in a wrap up, but less than in a full review.  I've seen quite a few people already do so many posts like this, and thing its such a good idea that I knew it was the only way I was going to be able to review more books without having every other post on this blog as a review.  In this one, I will be reviewing three books that I read in June, as I really wanted to talk about each of them, and so thought they would be perfect for this.  I was also toying with the idea of then doing these sort of posts monthly, combining a few of the books I've read in the past month but haven't reviewed, but we'll have to just wait and see if that actually happens.  And so, enjoy!

 Its A Slow Read! 
Whilst I am normally someone who loves a book that I can fly through in almost no time at all, I also have to admit I am a sucker for slower books that draw you in bit by bit until you are so invested into the story that even though its taken you that little bit longer to get through, all that means is that you are so much more attached to it.  Plus, it also meant that we got to see the relationship between Sean and Puck develop so slowly but so perfectly that you couldn't not fall in love with them.

 How Gorgeous Was This Setting?!
Every time I talk about this book, I always end up gushing about the beautiful setting of this story.  I loved the island backdrop of this book, as it not only fitted so well with the story, but also gave us just such a beautiful atmosphere and allowed for some amazing side characters that all joined together to create such a great community setting within this book.

 I Just Want To Forever Read Maggie Stiefvater's Writing
I don't think I will ever not adore, let alone ever get bored of Maggie Stiefvater's gorgeous way with words.  Somehow in every book she writes she manages to perfectly capture the essence and atmosphere of the story and setting in her beautiful, magical writing.

Need I say more?  Side characters are my one true love and so if there is one short fire way to make me like a book, its to give me amazing side characters and a fair few of them!  This book just contained so many amazing side characters who all helped to add so much depth and complexity to this plot, as well as to create such a rich community atmosphere that really made the setting and story itself so realistic as it immersed in these local characters and their lives as if you were in the story yourself.

'There are moments that you'll remember for the rest of your life and there are moments that you think you'll remember for the rest of your life, and its not often they turn out to be the same moment.'



 All The Tapes Connected Together
As much as I was not a big fan of the whole idea of the tapes once I started reading this one, I did really enjoy seeing how characters who appeared at the very beginning of the book came back again and had some connection to the story later on.  It not only made the story so much more interesting, but also allowed us to see more of the characters and so get to know them alot more than we otherwise would have.

 It Was a Quick, Addictive Read
Whatever my problems with this book, one thing I have to say is that I did manage to fly 
through this one in just two days, something that does not happen often to me.  I don't know whether it was because I knew I had to get this book read, or because it was just that addictive a read, but either way it was definitely not one that took me long to get through at all.

 How It Represented Suicide
I'd heard a couple of people talk about this before I read this book, so I was aware that it might have problems before actually reading it.  However, after reading I now have to say that I join those people who do not like how this book represented suicide and mental illness, as by using the tapes, that each blamed someone else for Hannah's death, it portrayed almost like revenge suicide.

 It Was So Repetitive
Whilst I understand completely the concept of this book, and know the book is set up the way it is because of that, and that this book is dealing with suicide and everything, what I don't understand is why this book was so repetitive.  As much as this is meant to be sending a message about suicide and how much peoples actions affect others, it is still a fictional book aimed at young people, and so it needs to be engaging and entertaining in order for you to get that message across.

 We Didn't Actually Get to Meet Almost All Of The Characters 
Throughout this entire book, the only other voices we ever got to here were Hannah's, Clay's and Tony's - everyone else we only heard through Hannah's stories, and so only ever got to see her view on that person.  We never got to meet these characters for ourselves and hear them speak themselves, and so only ever got a biased view of them, and also never got to see their reactions to Hannah's death in the aftermath.


 Mixed Format
Whilst pretty much the entirety of the book is written in the normal, standard way, every so often we did get a few pages of text messages or emails that filled my desire for that sort of thing right up.  They were in no way a prominent feature of this book, but still brought something a little different to the story and gave us almost a different perspective or a deeper look into the relationships between the characters.

 I'll Admit, The Romance Was Quite Cute
Yes, it was not the most unique or the best written romance I've ever read, and different did follow some cliches and tropes that I have seen a few times before, but that did not meant that I didn't enjoy it.  It was still very cute and I did like reading about Aidan and Lexi's relationship and watching it develop throughout the novel.

 This Book Was Pretty Much All Set In A Convention 
As most contemporaries are often set against a similar sort of backdrop, it was quite refreshing to read a book where we almost never saw the main character go to school, and where most of the events that happened in this book took place at conventions.  I love how unique a setting choice this was, and was surprised at how much I enjoyed seeing everything unfold against this backdrop, as it gave something different to the story and definitely made this one stand out a little more from the crowd of YA contemporaries.

It Was Still Pretty Similar To Alot of Other YA Contemporaries
So even if the setting was quite a cool one, unfortunately the rest of the book did not follow suit and ended up being alot more generic and similar to other books than I would have liked.  Whilst it was still an enjoyable read and one I wouldn't ever say not to give a go, the plot of this one did seem to be quite predictable at times and followed the same storyline of a lot of other YA contemporary romances.

'Funny things, words.  Big words, small words; words that are bigger on the inside and packed tight with feeling.  They can make us fall in love, and they can break our hearts and we're powerless against them.'


Have you read any of these - what did you think?

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

After seeing this tag going all around Booktube, and really enjoying watching so many of them, I decided to give it a go myself for once as I thought it would be quite interesting to look back onto my reading over the past 6 months.  I also recently saw Paper Fury do this tag (check out her blog if you somehow you haven't already - its truly gorgeous), and so I thought why not give it a go as well as I always see these tags going around, but never actually get round to doing them myself.  So far, I think 2017 has been quite a good reading year for me, as I have already read 22 books, which whilst still places me behind in trying to reach my goal of reading 50 books this year, is so much better than last year when I only read 28 books throughout the entire year.  Of those 22 books, I have also fortunately enjoyed so many of them, so hopefully the second half of the year can be just as good as the first.  And so, enjoy! 

As much as I have read so many amazing books this year already, I think that recently I have made it quite clear that The Sun is Also a Star has definitely taken this title.  I absolutely adored everything about this one, from the amazingly diverse and unique characters to the gorgeous plot this book followed.  But one of my favourite aspects has to be the format that just allowed this story to be told in the beautiful way that it was and was the perfect way for this book to be written.

Honourable Mention - History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
I was definitely not expecting to fall so in love with this story.

Unfortunately, this was definitely not as easy as the first question, as I have already read two fantastic sequels this year that I just couldn't decide between for so long.  but eventually I decided that whilst I did adore both of them, The Dream Thieves has to hold the title of my favourite sequel of the year so far, as it was just so good and exceed all expectations I had for it.  I loved where the story went in this book and adored seeing and exploring more of Ronan's character, and just couldn't believe how much I started to love his character, as well as how much my love for all of the other characters just grew and grew even more.  

Honourable Mention - Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Because how was this book even better than Throne of Glass?!

This year I have been so bad with new releases, and have only read a couple of books that have been released in 2017, so its safe to say I definitely did not find it hard to think of some books for this question.  The one I am most annoyed at myself for not reading yet has to be Caraval, as not only was I anticipating its release before it came out, but it also didn't take long for me to buy this book myself, so there is nothing stopping me from picking this book up and reading it.

Honourable Mention - Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
I may be slightly intimidated by the size of this one and by how many people have loved it...

This was one of the few questions in this tag that I knew the answer for almost instantly.  Ever since I read Thanks for the Trouble last summer, I have been desperate to get my hands on Tommy Wallach's next book, Strange Fire, that comes out on the 3rd October, and just sounds so intriguing.  Both his first books instantly became favourites of mine, and I can't wait to dive back into his writing and into a new story of his.  

Honourable mention - All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
Because this year has definitely been the year I have fallen truly in love with Maggie Stiefvater, so of course I'm excited for this one!

Luckily so far I haven't read too many disappointing books, so for me it was quite easy to say that The Ship Beyond Time was definitely my most disappointing read.  I was so excited for the release of this one, as I had adored The Girl from Everywhere, but unfortunately I didn't enjoy this one half as much, and just couldn't find myself connecting to the story or the characters as I had before.

Fortunately this is another easy one for me, as The Scorpio Races completely exceed all my expectations when I read it fairly recently.  I was not expecting much from this book at all, and so when I actually read it I was so surprised to find such a gorgeous story that contain such real characters who just wanted to root for so badly.  This book was just so atmospheric and had such a rich setting supported by so many amazing side characters that it was hard not to get lost in this world of the water horses.  

Honourable mention - Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
No one told me how gorgeously this book took us inside these two characters relationship.

Although I know this Author will make so many appearances on this list because of my complete love for one of her books, Nicola Yoon has definitely already become one of my new favourite authors.  This year I have already read both of Nicola Yoon's books, Everything Everything and The Sun is Also a Star, and have loved both of them, with their addictive writing style and gorgeous stories.  I am already excited for anything else she writes, but for now don't think I will ever stop talking about how amazing The Sun is Also a Star is, and anyone whose books can make me do that is definitely one of my new favourites.  

Honourable mention - Adam Silvera
History is All You Left Me was most definitely good enough to make him one of my new favourite authors.  

Whilst there have been many books already this year that have contained several amazing male characters, of all them Sean Kendrick from The Scorpio Races definitely stands out as my newest fictional crush.  I just loved how quiet and secretive he was, as well as his relationship with Puck that I really enjoyed watching slowly develop throughout the book.  I just generally loved his nature and his love for his horses, and could happily read many more books about him.   

Honourable Mention - John Ambrose McClaren from PS I Still Love You by Jenny Han
I think everyone who has read this book has to have a little bit of a crush on him.  He was just too cute not to.  

Not only was The Sun is Also a Star my favourite book of the first half of the year, but it also contained my newest favourite character in Natasha.  I loved her determination and her stubbornness as she refused to give up in her attempts to stop her family from being deported.  She was so unapologetic and always completely herself that I couldn't help but completely fall in love with her character.  

Honourable Mention - Luka from Wolf By Wolf by Ryan Graudin
I just loved his character for all his slyness and unpredictable nature. 

Its safe to say that City of Heavenly Fire completely destroyed me!  I was not expecting this series finale to contain so many twists and turns that I didn't see coming and for it to pull on my heartstrings as much as I did.  That ending was so good but so heartbreaking, and I honestly don't know if I'm over it even now.  

Honourable Mention - History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
I dare you not to get emotional over a book about a boy grieving over the death of his best friend and first love!

I'm going to have to go with quite a classic answer here, as Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban definitely made me very happy.  I just loved returning to this world and to these characters, and as much as I enjoyed the first two books, this was definitely the one that made me fall completely in love with this series.

Honourable Mention - PS I Still Love You by Jenny Han
If this contemporary doesn't fill you with even just a little bit of happiness, then I don't know what will.

For this, as much as I have brought some gorgeous books this year, I had to go for Blue Lily, Lily Blue because have you seen this cover?!  If this book wasn't amazing enough already, I just adore all the colours that make up this gorgeous artistic cover that also fits the story inside so perfectly.

Honourable Mention - Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
I think I would struggle to find someone who is not in love with this cover.

Despite loving all of Carlos Ruiz Zafon's books that I've read, I still have to pick up A Shadow in the Wind, what is likely his most popular one.  I have owned this for so long now and still somehow haven't picked this up, likely just because it is quite long.  I'm also currently convincing myself that I need to read this at the right time, when in reality there is clearly never going to be a right time to read this book, so I just need to bit the bullet and actually read this book before the year is out.

Honourable Mention - A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
If I don't read this soon I will definitely forget absolutely everything that happened in the first book!

Whats your favourite book that you've read so far this year?  Have you read any of these - what did you think?

Sunday, 2 July 2017

May/ June Wrap Up

The end of June is already here, which not only means the end of another month, but also that we are now officially halfway through the year!  I actually can't believe that we have already made it through six months of the year, as they have just flown by without me even realising it.  Fortunately, I have had a pretty good reading year so far, both in terms of how much I have been reading and in the books I have been reading, as I have already loved so many of the books I have read this year so far.  The last two months in particular been likely my best reading months yet, as I managed to read 4 books in both, and as much as that probably doesn't sound amazing, and I would definitely like to possibly up that number in the coming months, it does mean that I am finally getting back into reading and back into the habit again, which is something I have been trying to do for a very long time.  So here are all the books that I managed to read in the months of May and June.  And so, enjoy!

I started off the month of May with a book that I actually picked up from the library, as since finishing PS I Still Love You, I was only in the mood for contemporary, and so thought this would be good one to fulfill that desire.  This follows Vivi and Jonah, two people who never thought they would meet, but whose lives collide for a summer they never expected.  Overall, I really enjoyed this one even though it did take me a while to get through, and I'm really pleased I picked this one up and gave it a go.  I enjoyed the story and plot as well as the characters, especially how different the two main characters were and how we got to see both of them individually as well as together as we watched their relationship grow and grow throughout this book.  I also really liked how this book dealt with quite important and powerful topics that consistently underlay the romance and other aspects of the plot and story.  The ending fit perfectly with the story and just finished off this book exactly how it needed to be.

Rating - 4/5

May was definitely the month of mood reading, as for whatever reason, as I neared the end of When We Collided I suddenly just really wanted to reread this one, and so that is actually what I did.  This book focuses on our two characters of Sephy, a superior black Cross, and Callum, a white Nought, as both they and their relationship get pushed to the limit due to the continuous conflict and tensions between the Noughts and Crosses.  This was one of my favourite books when I was younger, and so I was really happy to find that I still really loved this one, as it is just such a poignant and important read.  I still really enjoyed the plot and the characters in this one, with both Callum and Sephy two of my favourite characters,  with the only one of my thoughts that really changed this time around being the actual pacing and execution of the story, as I did find it just a little rushed and the pace just a little too quick for me.  But overall, this was still a story that I really enjoy and may even carry on and reread the whole rest of the series as well.

Rating - 3.5/5

As my mood reading continued, after Noughts and Crosses I knew I wanted to return back to a contemporary, and so decided to pick up this one after hearing such good things about it and really enjoying Nicola Yoon's other book, Everything Everything, when I read it at the beginning of the year.  The story follows  our two main characters of Natasha, who is fighting to stop her family from being deported back to Jamaica, and Daniel, whose Korean parents want him to go to Harvard but whose own passion lies in poetry, not in becoming a doctor.  Honestly, I can't even begin to explain how much I adored this book.  From the very first page I was just drawn straight into the story and into these two characters lives, who were both amazing both individually and together.  The format was one of the most unique and gorgeous I've ever seen, and I loved both the diversity in this book, and the way it tackled important topics that are so current to the world today.  So far, this is definitely my favourite book of the year so far, and at the minute I would not be surprised if it still held that spot by December.  

Rating - 5/5

With The Sun is also A Star being such a quick read for me, after finishing it I knew I wanted to keep my motivation to read up, and so picked this one up based on that fact, as I have heard from a few people that these books are very quick, addictive reads, something I certainly found to be true when I read this one for myself.  This book follows Juliette, whose fatal touch leads her to be released from the cell she has been locked in for 264 days in order to use her as a weapon.  As I said, I only really picked this one up for a quick read, and so I was quite satisfied with this book purely because I wasn't expecting much more than your average dystopian, which is what I feel is exactly what you get with this book.  Whilst the writing style and world took me a while to get into, once I did I flew through this one in no time at all because I didn't really feel like I had to pay much attention at all to still be able to follow this one.  I did like the romance in this, although would have to admit that it is extremely romance heavy, especially towards the end of the book, but found the characters on their own to be very generic and pretty dull to be honest.  However, I am still planning on continuing on with this series, as I did enjoy this one, and so would like to see where this story goes next.  

Rating - 3/5

Despite being in such a good reading mood at the end of May, June did not get off to the best of starts, not because of what I was reading, or because I wasn't in the mood to read, but simply because of other things that were happening, such as the end of exams and spending a weekend away, and so it took me a little longer than normal to get back into the habit of reading.  Partially for that reason, I decided to pick this one up as, if I'm honest, I was for whatever reason not expecting much from this book, that follows Puck as she enters the deadly Scorpio Races in order to save her home and her family, and as she meets Sean, the only person on the island who can tame the savage water horses.  All in all, I can't tell you how wrong I was about this book.  I adored everything about this one, from the absolutely gorgeous story that wove so many different aspects together to the spectacular setting that I am already desperate to return to.  I loved the characters, from Puck and Sean, who have become two of my new favourites, to all of the side characters who I enjoyed so much more than I can say.  After reading this one, I can't believe how wrong I was about this book, and its safe to say this one was definitely my most surprising read of the year so far, in the best way possible.  

Rating - 4.5/5

Despite May being a month where all of the books I read were based on what mood I was in, this book was one that I actually more had to get round to than one I read because I was in the mood for it, as I actually borrowed this one from a friend and so knew I had to get round to reading it soon.  After the release and hype of the Netflix series, I was also really curious to see what they had changed from the book to the TV series, both of which follows the story of Hannah Baker, who sends out 13 tapes that make their way round 13 people, each containing a reason why she killed herself.  Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to enjoy this book, I just couldn't find myself enjoying pretty much anything about it, other than the fact that it was a very quick read for me.  I found the structure of the book to be extremely repetitive, which by the end made this book very boring to me, and so I really didn't feel their was much of a climax at the end of it.  I also really didn't like Clay's commentary, as not only was it unnecessary and again very repetitive, but I also didn't really think he had a role in the story at all, and so didn't understand why out of everyone he was the narrator of this story.  Finally, I just also had quite a few problems with how this book dealt with suicide and other issues, and so I just really couldn't enjoy this one at all.   

Rating - 2/5

Clearly these two months have been the months for contemporaries, as just like in May, after finishing Thirteen Reasons Why I knew I wanted to pick up another contemporary, one that I hopefully would enjoy a little more than it.  This is one I picked up quite spontaneously a couple of months ago now, and so one that I haven't heard or know a huge ton about at all, so I was quite looking forward to going into a book without having huge expectations and without knowing other peoples opinions on it either.  The books follows Lexi Angelo, who meets author Aidan Green whilst helping out at one of her father's conventions, and follows their interactions and relationship.  Overall, I would say that whilst I did enjoy this one, it was definitely not one of my favourite books I've read, as I found it to be just quite mediocre and just like many other YA contemporary romances I've come across before.  I did enjoy the story and the plot, and did find myself swooning over the romance at points, but at times just found it to be predictable, and whilst the characters were interesting at times, I didn't love any of them really, and again found them to be your average characters unfortunately.  

Rating - 3/5

Finally, when I was nearing the end of unconventional, I desperately wanted to pick up something I knew I would enjoy after my last two reads, and so fell back on a series that has never failed to amaze me.  As this is the third book in the Raven Cycle, I don't want to spoil the first two books, but this one follows on just after The Dream Thieves left off and continues the story where it ended in it.  So far I have adored everything about this series, and fortunately this one was no different, with the story once again taking turns I never saw coming and continuously amazing me and drawing me further and further into this world.  The writing was just as beautiful and magical as it was before, and created the perfect atmosphere for this book, but is likely my favourite aspect of these books is the characters, who I could read about for the rest of my life and never get bored off.  This one seemed to focus in a little more on Adam, who has been one of my favourites since the first book, and so I loved exploring his character more, as well as once again seeing all the other spectacular characters grow and develop throughout this story.  Whilst I have to admit that The Dream Thieves is still my favourite of the books so far, this one was still absolutely amazing, and I adored it so much that I can't believe I only have one book left to read in this series!

Rating - 4.75/5

What books did you read in May and June?  Which was your favourite?  Have you read any of these - what did you think?