2018 Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag!

Hello all! ICYMI, I have decided to change this blog from a review site to a general bookish site. Don’t worry, the reviews will keep coming, but I am also going to be posting bookish stuff in general. 

During June, the 6th month of the year, the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag does its rounds. I don’t think I’ve ever participated before, but this year I’ve decided I want to.

Somehow, I have already read 53 books this year, so I unashamedly had to use Goodreads to help me answer these questions!  Continue reading

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Book Review | Remix by Non Pratt

30369794Best friends Ruby and Kaz have been looking forward to Remix for months. Kaz is still reeling from being dumped by the love of her life; Ruby is tired of hearing about it, and wants her friend back. Three days. Two friends. One festival. Zero chance of everything working out. 

I love being in the mood for contemporaries, and finding one that is just right for you. Because Remix was perfect for me, exactly when I wanted it.

First offs, I loved the characters. Ruby and Kaz had a dual narrative throughout the book, and I liked how it switched back and forth – sometimes, there was only one sentence of one of them before it went back to the other. It was so interesting reading about best friends who have started to keep secrets, because the reader has the knowledge behind both characters that they don’t have of each other. I’m not always a fan of dual narrative books, but this was done so well. Each character had their own distinctive voice, and it was just written stunningly.

The plot was also really interesting. Throwing the characters together in an enclosed space like a music festival is always a way to get good dynamics going between them, and Non used this to her advantage. The festival felt so real!

There was so much going on in this story, and quite often that can be overwhelming, but Pratt balances it really well. Each character had their own relationships and troubles going on, and I thought that they all got an equitable amount of screen time; there was never really a moment when I wanted us to stop focusing on one character and move onto another. In this way, it felt very much like real life, as there was so much going on but it wasn’t too much at all.

Three of my favourite characters were Lee, Owen, and Lauren, who were three side characters. Lee and Owen were in a relationship, which I thought was really interesting as Non wrote about the deterioration of the relationship, often not a plot that happens to secondary characters. And Lauren was a character I initially wanted to not like, because I am one who normally roots for the main character and she was a love rival for Kaz’s love interest. But, she was such a lovely, likeable character, and out of all of them probably the character I a) related to the most, and b) would most like to be friends with!

Non chose to write about female friendship rather than romantic relationships, and I really appreciated it. I am a person who values strong friendships, and I thought that the dissection of Ruby and Kaz’s friendship was a perfect focus point for this book. It was written really well, and is one that I think I’ll keep coming back to when I want to try and explain how much I love my friends!

One of the main reasons I didn’t give this book 5/5 is because there was a scene that I felt was very unbelievable. SPOILER PARAGRAPH Basically, Ruby sleeps with the main singer of her favourite band. As much as I liked this being a plot idea, and her realising the “you should never meet your idols” kinda thing, I just thought it was so unbelievable that to begin with I thought it wasn’t actually going to be the lead singer! I get why it was put in… but just too far-fetched for me. END SPOILER PARAGRAPH

There’s so much to talk about and unpick about this book that I might end up doing another review/blog post about it in the future, but it had everything I wanted: great, 3D characters, a great plot and setting, and a fantastic writing style. Non Pratt is an emerging writer, but definitely one to watch and I will be reading many more books of hers.

Rating: 4/5

Goodreads
Personal source: bought from YALC


If you liked this, you might also enjoy… The Manifesto on How to be Interesting by Holly Bourne 

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Book Review | Midnight Sun by Trish Cook

36044933Katie has an illness which, if she was exposed to sunlight, would kill her. She spends her days studying, playing guitar, and watching out for Charlie Reed – a super hot guy, who passes by her window every single day. One night, she happens to meet him at the train station, and something Katie has never had the chance to experience begins to form between them. 

God, this book. THIS BOOK.

The concept seemed really cool, but basically this just felt like a cheap rip off of Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (which was a 3.5* read for me anyway).

The main character, Katie (who is played in the new film by one of my least favourite actresses, which probably didn’t help Midnight Sun’s cause before I started reading) was such a typical Wattpad YA heroine. She was good at everything she attempted (seriously, even if you’re pretty good at beer pong you don’t get it in every time…), the love interest fell for her straight away, and she somehow still had a best friend although they barely seemed to talk and fell out constantly.

The plot was predictable: the main character has an illness where she can’t go outside*, she stalks a boy for a decade before meeting him, they fall in love, and… I’m not going to spoil the ending.

(*I didn’t think this was a real illness until I googled it.)

I thought that there was room for so much more than what happened but basically this was just a romance. She goes to hospital once, seemed to talk about nothing but boys and the sun with her best friend and her dad, and although I felt some sympathy for her, it was hard to because she was so fucking annoying.

SPOILER PARAGRAPH I want to talk about the ending because it pissed me the fuck off. A) it was super cliché – dying with her mum coaxing her to heaven? Pur-lease. B) she spent her dying moments, not with her dad or best friend who have supported her for her life, but with a boy she’s known for like 6 weeks. Like… wtf girl. She just said goodbye to her dad & friend on the beach and left? Ugh. I felt some sympathy and admittedly, yes, there was some beautiful writing, but COME ON HOW STUPID. Also, the author clearly loved her characters, but there were two letters which wrapped things up nicely. I’ve read books like How I Live Now by Sally Nichols which deals with the MC dying really well, and let me tell you, this was drawn out too much into ‘I really don’t care’ territory. END SPOILER PARAGRAPH

ALSO there was a scene where they went on a train and the conductor shouted ‘all aboard’ before they got on. Has this author never been on a train before?? This legit doesn’t happen?? What a weird detail to include.

Probably the only thing I loved was Charlie. He was such a sweetheart, and just an adorable, cliche, YA book boy. Yes.

Basically though, this book annoyed the shit out of me & now I’m glad I can be rid of it from my shelves forever. The only thing I liked about it was Morgan who was Katie’s best friend and the only character who seemed to have a brain. (Tbf her dad did too, but was so underdeveloped he could’ve been written out completely.)

TL;DR: don’t waste your time with this book.

Rating: 2/5

Goodreads
Personal source: bought from The Works


If you liked this you might also enjoy: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

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Poetry Review | Honeybee by Trista Mateer

36206132In this poetry collection, Trista Mateer explores heartbreak, love, loss, and walking away. Honeybee is a memoir in verse, collecting snapshots from a time of ripples in one poet’s life. 

I really liked the style of Mateer’s poetry, and I think that for that reason, Honeybee and I resonated fairly well together.

The topic of heartbreak has been one that poets have written about for centuries, but Mateer’s situation was entirely unique, because she was the one who walked away. This book explores how her own experience with leaving still affected the heartbreak that both sides of the relationship experienced, and I think it’s a side I don’t often read about in poetry, because normally the one who is left is the one who writes the sad poems.

I feel like I wasn’t in quite the emotional state to connect to anything truly (probably didn’t help I read like 75% of this in the doctors’ waiting room), but I did feel it. Mateer pours her whole heart into these poems about her ex and I think that for her, it was probably a really cathartic exercise to do.

A lot of time was really spent writing about her ex, though, and it was quite overwhelming. Obviously a poet should be separated from their poetry in terms of autobiographicalness unless they say it’s an autobiography, but some of what Mateer said surprised me. Even though she was in a new relationship (both sides of the couple), Mateer was still writing very emotive poetry which, if I were reading it as this girl, I would find it a little…. close? maybe? is that the right word? Whichever word, I hope you get the gist – even after one year, two years, Mateer still seemed to be pining for this girl despite being in a new relationship.

I kind of get it, I do, having gone through a difficult break up a year and a half or so ago, but I don’t think I could write this type of poetry about that person now. I miss them sometimes, yes, but I think to write this deeply about them… that’s a whole other level, and despite the fact I was thoroughly enjoying the beautiful phrases Mateer strung together, I was still slightly reserved from the poems, trying to remove myself from how I was feeling at the back of my head the entire time.

Honeybee is a poem about breakup, but not all breakups. Whilst I didn’t -connect-, I could feel the pain that was poured into these poems. From a stylistic point of view, these poems were 100% my cup of tea. I loved Mateer’s writing style, and will definitely be looking to read more of her books in the future. I especially enjoyed how the titles of the poems seemed to almost be another line. Mateer didn’t put a word down without a reason for doing it.

Overall, I think that this was a book Mateer needed to write, but not necessarily one I felt needed to be published. I think that her writing is, honestly, stunning and engrossing, but I felt a little uncomfortable reading it, as I was looking at it from both perspectives: Mateer’s, and the person she left. It’s unfortunate that I had this ticking voice in the back of my mind, otherwise I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more. However, I still gave this book a fairly good rating, because I feel like the writing truly deserves it.

Rating: 3.5/5

Goodreads
Personal source: sent as an eARC from NetGalley. As always, opinions are entirely my own.


If you liked this, you might also enjoy… milk and honey by Rupi Kaur 

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Cover Reveal | Not Like Everyone Else by Jennifer Leigh

Hello everyone! I am delighted to be taking part in this cover reveal for a new YA book by Jennifer Leigh.

Not Like Everyone Else is a new contemporary read from young author Jennifer Leigh. Here’s a synopsis:

Ryan can’t seem to get her memories in order. When she breaks it off with her long-term boyfriend, Corey, she can’t help but feel free. But mysterious events keep Ryan asking “just what happened?” After her family moved to Ryton, after Carter goes missing, after Jacob is in the hospital. All of these afters, but Ryan can’t remember the befores. With Harper and Elliot by her side, Ryan can only hope that she does not forget… again. Will Ryan be able to recover her memory to figure out what happened when it all went dark?

Sounds interesting, right? Well, without further ado, here is the cover:

Ta-da! I think it’s so pretty and I love the setting around the model. It looks so intriguing!


Want more of Not Like Everyone Else?

Pre-order your Kindle copy now! Or sign-up for the blog tour which runs from June 15-June 23.

Not Like Everyone Else is set to be released on June 15, 2018.

About Jennifer Leigh:

Jennifer Leigh is a self-published young adult author and blogger. She has participated in National Novel Writing Month where all of her thoughts come together and books are created. Her blog, Bound to Writing, focuses on young adult books and writing. She lives in New Jersey with her fiancé, two guinea pigs, and cat. Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 


What do you think of Not Like Everyone Else‘s book cover? Let me know in the comments below!

I’d like to say a big thank-you to Jenn for letting me be a part of her cover reveal tour! I’m super excited to read it.

Book Review | To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

34499221With the hearts of seventeen princes underneath her bed, Princess Lira is known as the Princes’ Bane. She’s the most ruthless siren of them all, but when all begins to go wrong, Lira is transformed into the thing she hates most of all: a human. With one goal in mind, Lira finds Prince Elian – in order to steal his heart.

Prince Elian prefers to be known as Captain Elian, the Siren Killer. He and his band of loyal misfits roam the seas, killing sirens and searching for the power to win the war against land and sea. But just how many deals will he have to make to succeed at his task? When Lira asks to join his expedition, Elian knows something isn’t quite right about her, but just how much can he really trust her? 

The blurb of this book kept begging me to read it, and I was so excited when I finally got around to picking it up. A siren murderess and a prince on one ship? Who doesn’t want to read that?!

I frickin’ loved the sirens, to start with. Most of my experience with sirens (hah) comes from Homer and classical mythology, so I loved how they were reworked in this really dark turn of a story. They were ruthless and barbaric, and just absolutely fascinating how they worked. I think the connection they had with the hearts was written really well, how important they were made out to be.

I just absolutely love it when mythology and world building is done well. Christo’s world building was done brilliantly (although I wish there had been a map!), and she really made me believe that this was a world that could exist somewhere. I loved that each country/state had its own kind of trait – like being the centre of invention, or war, or romance. It kind of reminded me of the factions in Divergent a little, but with less fighting between them.

The war against land and sea has long been one that people have written about, but Christo really put a great turn on it. Also, the Sea Queen was a fantastically murderous character. She was so frickin’ ruthless! (And I don’t know about anyone else, but I was getting major Disney’s The Little Mermaid Ursula vibes.)

The whole structure of this book was really well put together and Lira and Elian were both such great characters. Where can I find me an Elian? (But seriously, though.) Their romance was done so well that I didn’t even realise they were changing towards each other at first! This is enemies-to-lovers done at its best, my friends.

I feel like the only let down, for me, was the plot. This was a book very much propelled by characters, and although I was of course interested in their quests, I just loved “being” around the characters and reading their conversations and interactions. That’s not saying that the plot wasn’t good – I think it was, and it featured just about everything I love about plots – but the characters were for me the main focus, and I think that Chriso loved her characters a lot and it kind of showed. The plot was good, but it didn’t get me as excited as just reading Elian and Lira and Kye and Madrid banter with each other.

Overall though this was a great read – the characters were absolutely fantastic, and the idea of the whole book was a brilliant new spin on the Little Mermaid. I never really liked the Disney film as a kid, but I couldn’t help but borrow some of the cartoon’s imagery to help bring the characters to life in my own head.

Rating: 4/5

Goodreads
Source: borrowed from the library. Thank you for NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. I actually read this book from the library because it was easier for me at the time. As always, though, my opinions are my own! 


If you liked this, you might also enjoy… Labyrinth Lost by Zoradia Cordova [review coming soon]

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Book Review | The White Book by Han Kang

39220683The White Book is a book of poetry and prose, exploring mourning, rebirth, and the human spirit. It’s a mediation on colour, a presentation of photography, and an investigation into human life. Translated by Deborah Smith. 

The White Book is an unusual book because it’s not really a ‘book’… or a ‘book of poetry’, either. It’s a collection of experimentation, a kind of therapy put onto paper if you’d like.

Let’s just start by saying that, despite whatever I say from here on, I did really like this book. It wasn’t entirely what I was expecting, but that doesn’t always have to be a bad thing!

I feel like this book is very biographical. It talks a lot about Han Kang’s mourning for her lost siblings, for her mother and father, and for her life before. It takes place predominantly when she is living away from home and I think that this really gave us an interesting scope from which to look from, as both us and the author were looking at her home from outsider lenses, as Han Kang finally looked back at her past.

It’s quite short – many of the pages are just blank and some of the writings are quite short, so it’s really quick and easy to get through too.

This book is, mostly, fascinating. It’s writing for the sake of writing – some people might like this, and some don’t. It’s therapy writing, and going through a lot of grief myself so far this year, I really connected with some of her writing. However… it’s a book that I forgot very quickly. I guess that gives me an excuse to read it again soon!

Rating: 3.5/5

Goodreads
Source: bought from Waterstone’s


If you liked this, you might also like…. Standing Female Nude by Carol Ann Duffy

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Book Review | The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

36628816Rumour has it that Alice Franklin is a slut. It’s written all over the bathroom stall at Healy High for everyone to see. And after star quarterback Brandon Fitzsimmons dies in a car accident, the rumours start to spiral out of control. But exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end there’s only one person to ask: Alice herself. – edited from Goodreads

I was super excited to read this book, as although it’s Jennifer Mathieu’s debut novel, it has been reprinted following the success of Moxie (which I absolutely loved, although for some reason didn’t review – that will be coming soon!). However, The Truth About Alice, for me, fell flat.

I enjoyed reading only some of the POVs from which this story was told, and there were about 4 or 5 of them. Some were engaging, like Josh, and some just weren’t really that interesting at all. I also thought the differing POVs may not have lent themselves brilliantly to this novel – I would have preferred maybe only 2 or 3 if there were differing POVs at all.

The idea of course interested me because it’s about feminism and it’s also YA. I think it’s a novel about looking beyond what you believe a person to be to what they actually are, and for that reason I think it’s really important.

Alice was an interesting, complex character to whom terrible things happened, and I think it really shows how society today turns against someone if they make just one mistake. Alice was shunned because of a rumour, not even truth in the matter, and it was heartbreaking to watch all of her friends turn against her.

Mathieu writes about feminism in a way that no one else does – raw, and from a teenage perspective. Moxie was just incredible, and I will definitely be reading anything else she brings out. So overall, this book fell flatly compared to her most recent novel, but for a debut, it really explores new territory (it was published in 2014) and although the way it was told didn’t meld well with me, the ideas behind it, and of course Mathieu’s writing, were really brilliant to read.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3/5

Goodreads
Source: eARC from NetGalley


~*NEW SECTION*~

I’ve decided to add a “if you liked this…” section to each of my reviews, so if you enjoyed the book I reviewed, another one by a different author is listed below (and along with my review, if I’ve written one!).

If you liked this, you might also enjoy… The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed [review]

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Book Review | The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed

36039165Lucy Moynihan was run out of town because she accused the popular guys at school of gang rape. Everyone knows that. And no one ever speaks of it. 

The Nowhere Girls are every girl. But they start with just three: Grace, Rosina, and Erin. Together, they form the Nowhere Girls, and decide to avenge the rape of a girl silenced because she spoke the truth. 

I have wanted to read this book for so long and when it was £2 (!) on Amazon, I bought it straight away and devoured it as soon as it arrived.

The topic of this book is something that drew me straight away. I love stories about girls who band together to speak up for injustice (like Moxie by Jennifer Matheiu) and it’s happening more and more in everyday life too (eg #MeToo). I really value authors writing about feminism and standing up for justice, and this was such a brilliant book about it!

The characters are interesting and diverse, of different races and sexuality, and I especially loved how we got to look at all of them. Reed writes in four different points of view – Grace, Rosina, Erin, and Us. “Us” was probably my favourite, and I wish Reed had written more from this because it was just such a stunning portrayal of people. It seemed to jump in and out of different girls’ heads, telling us things that the narrator knows but no one else does, sometimes not even the characters themselves.

The present tense, omnipotent narrator was an interesting choice, but I’m glad that Reed branched out and made it. It was fascinating to read, not least because I’ve rarely read from a perspective like this, but because it allowed us to jump around without it feeling jarring. There were of course certain POVs I liked more than others, but I think that that really shows the scope of a great writer.

Overall, I was completely gripped and I adored this book. It’s one of those books that gave me tingles down my arms when I thought of the characters and the injustices in this world faced by women all over the place. It’s one that I really think doesn’t get talked about enough in the bookosphere, and I would really like it to be far, far more!

Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads
Source: bought from Amazon

Book Review | A Spoonful of Murder by Robin Stevens

34609221Hazel and Daisy have left England and set out to Hong Kong for the mourning period of Hazel’s grandfather who passed away. When they arrive, Hazel just looks forward to spending time with her family and her father in particular. But when they reach her home, she has a very nasty surprise. Before she can even get over this, tragedy strikes, not once, but twice. With criminal gangs, new maids they’re not sure they can trust, and a wholly different culture to what the Honourable Daisy Wells is used to, this might be the Detective Society’s most challenging case yet. 

I absolutely LOVE the Wells and Wong series. It’s such a brilliant series, and in all honesty, it just keeps on getting better.

This one takes place in Hong Kong, which is a place I’ve never been to myself, and I loved learning about the different culture. Stevens has researched very thoroughly, and she took a research trip there herself, so I feel like what she says can be trusted. It felt like I could see and hear Hong Kong, and the descriptions were so rich, as per!

I don’t want to say too much about the case itself, (spoilers!) but I thoroughly enjoyed the entire thing. The stakes in this one seemed to be very much higher than what they used to be, and how Stevens will top this I do not know! (She will find a way.) I didn’t work it out long before Hazel and Daisy themselves, so it was a case that had me guessing all the way through as well.

Basically, I just loved this book. Hazel and Daisy are two of my favourite literary heroines, and Robin Stevens honestly just keeps on getting better. I thought that the ending might have been a bit of a cop-out, but to be honest, it’s the best ending that there could be in order to finish the book appropriately. Overall? It was brilliant, and I would highly recommend this book and all of the others in the series.

Rating: 5/5

Goodreads
Source: bought from Amazon