Review: Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa

fans-of-the-impossible-life

Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release date: September 8, 2015
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 0062331752
Pages: 368
Goodreads || Book Depository

Ten months after her recurring depression landed her in the hospital, Mira is starting over at Saint Francis Prep. She promised her parents she would at least try to pretend that she could act like a normal functioning human this time, not a girl who sometimes can’t get out of bed for days on end, who only feels awake when she’s with Sebby.

Jeremy is the painfully shy art nerd at Saint Francis who’s been in self-imposed isolation after an incident that ruined his last year of school. When he sees Sebby for the first time across the school lawn, it’s as if he’s been expecting him.

Sebby, Mira’s gay best friend, is a boy who seems to carry sunlight around with him like a backlit halo. Even as life in his foster home starts to take its toll, Sebby and Mira together craft a world of magic rituals and secret road trips, designed to fix the broken parts of their lives.

As Jeremy finds himself drawn into Sebby and Mira’s world, he begins to understand the secrets that they hide in order to protect themselves, to keep each other safe from those who don’t understand their quest to live for the impossible.

A captivating and profound debut novel, Fans of the Impossible Life is a story about complicated love and the friendships that change you forever.

MY THOUGHTS

1 star

Fans of the Impossible Life was a book that I pre-ordered about a month ago and it was one that I was very excited to read. Unfortunately, I was a bit let down. My rating of this book was probably a little bit influenced by my personal life philosophy, so I’ll talk about my thoughts on the ‘objective’ aspects of the book first.

First, let’s discuss the writing. I didn’t think the writing was very sophisticated, which isn’t a problem because I love simple writing too. I just feel like there were some scenes that had unnecessary descriptions. Also, the book was written from three different perspectives (Jeremy, Mira, and Sebby) and they were all written from different narrative styles. Jeremy’s chapters were in first person narration, Mira’s in third person, and Sebby’s were in second person. I thought this was completely unnecessary because it didn’t add anything to the story or the tone of the book. I don’t know if it was intended to be a plot device… but if it was, it was very unsuccessful. It just made the whole book awkward for me to read. There just didn’t seem to be a reason for the book to be written this way, and these sorts of gimmicks just turn me off.

The plot of the book was almost non-existent until about page 280 (and the book is only about 360 pages!!). Nothing happened in this book at all – it was very slice of life – until close to the end of the book. After the first 100 pages, I was bored and wanted to DNF, which I never do. The book is also split into 3 parts but I don’t think there was anything that really distinguished Part 1 from Part 2 in terms of plot or theme. Part 3 was when everything started happening, so I understand why that was a separate section, but Parts 1 and 2 just kind of blurred together. In terms of the little bit of plot that we did get, I don’t think there was a resolution at all. I don’t mind that there was an open ending but none of the issues were resolved. I’ll get into this a little bit more further down in my review.

I didn’t like any of the main characters in Fans of the Impossible Life. They felt a little bit pretentious and forced, like the author was trying to make them seem quirky. I thought Jeremy was okay but that might have just been because his chapters were written in first person and I connected with him a little bit more than the other two. I was not into Mira or Sebby at all. What I disliked the most was that there was absolutely no character development in this book. At the end of the book, they’re pretty much where they were at the beginning, except now they’re a group of three instead of a group of two plus Jeremy. I also didn’t really see the friendship developing at all. It kind of just happened – one day they didn’t know each other and then the next day they were friends.

I want to talk a little bit about the themes now, and the first is friendship. This book is supposed to be about friendships and how they can change you, but I thought the author took it too far in this book, or at least not in the direction I thought it would go in. Our three main characters in this book were depending on each other so much that they felt like they couldn’t live without each other. There are mental health relapses that occur when the friendship breaks down and I just really disliked this aspect of the book. Not being able to breathe when you haven’t heard from your friend for 3 days is not normal, at least not in my life. I do recognize that social relationships and having support leads to better mental health but I thought this was taking it too far. This level of dependency on another person is not healthy and I think the book idealised it a bit too much for my liking.

Another thing that I think was romanticized in the book was mental illness. This is a book about mental illness and it was not handled well at all in this novel. Mental illness is present throughout the book but it was never presented as a problem. None of our characters are in therapy or taking any steps to get better or stay better, and the book ends without any of them really acknowledging the problem or taking clear steps towards treatment. It was very unresolved. Mira is seeing a nutritionist in the book as a sort of ‘fix’ for her depression. I’m sorry, but a nutritionist is not able to treat your depression! She doesn’t see a psychologist, and if I remember correctly, the antidepressants that she does have are locked away from her in her mother’s drawer.

I think it’s important to incorporate mental illness into YA books so that readers are exposed to what these disorders look like. But there’s no point in making it a book about mental illness when you don’t properly show the behaviours, cognitions and steps towards treatment that may be involved. You’re almost idealizing mental illness when you don’t acknowledge that it’s a problem. I also don’t think mental illnesses were represented very well in this book at all. Mira has depression but I wouldn’t have known if the book hadn’t explicitly stated that. The only obvious symptom that I saw in the book was fatigue, besides a suicide attempt. Why should I think that depression is a serious illness when it just seems like something I feel on a bad day?

I also had a very big problem with the romance/sex in this book. There were some mature scenes in the book and they really put me off because they didn’t seem to be completely consensual. For example, there is a scene where one person tells another to do something to a third person (and this was all under the influence of alcohol and drugs). I don’t mind YA books that mention sex in them, but I felt like this book romanticized and encouraged this non-consensual behaviour. The author made it seem like it was done out of love for each other when actually one person was pretty much coercing another into doing things. There were just a lot of things that I felt like were not okay.

Overall, I disliked this book quite a bit. It presented a lot of issues that I felt could have been explored more deeply and handled a lot better. I finished the book not really understanding what messages the author wanted to convey. And I just didn’t understand what the point of the book was.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far This Year

top-ten-books-so-far-2015

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week is a freebie week so I’ve chosen to feature ten of my favourite titles that I’ve read so far in 2015. I believe this was a topic back in June but I missed out because I hadn’t started doing Top Ten Tuesday posts. I’ve read 144 books so far this year, so the 10 that I’ve chosen to feature are the creme de la creme of them all (in my opinion).

My Top Ten Tuesday lists are usually in no particular order, but today I’ve tried to put them into some sort of order for you, starting with the book in the 10th place position.


10. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry – Gabrielle Zevin:

This is a book that I think all book lovers would enjoy. I definitely enjoyed it immensely when I read it in March. It centres on the life of A.J. Fikry, a grumpy bookstore owner who has had some terrible luck in the last 18 months. He feels like there’s nothing good in life, but one day he finds a package left in the children’s section of his bookstore – a baby. He then cares for this baby as if she’s his own and he is transformed in the process. This book contains so many kinds of love: familial love, romantic love and of course, love for books. It had so many heartwarming moments and also a lot of heartbreaking ones too.

9. Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli:

I read this novel in April and it is one of my favourite diverse books that I’ve read this year. (For more diverse recommendations, check out my previous Top Ten Tuesday post on diverse characters. I also recommend David Levithan’s books.) This was a cute and light-hearted LGBTQIA+ book that also contained some serious messages. I think this book is masterful in the way that it was able to shine a light on the issues without being an angst-filled and heavy novel.

This novel follows Simon who is emailing another boy called Blue. They are both gay but have not come out yet. Somebody then stumbles across Simon’s emails to Blue and starts blackmailing Simon. Through the process, Simon and Blue are able to find the courage to embrace who they are and even fall in love.

8. SNOW LIKE ASHES – Sara Raasch:

Snow Like Ashes is the first book in a fantasy trilogy. I read this in August and I fell in love with the world and the characters. It is set in a fascinating world that is split into 8 unique kingdoms. The book was intense and action-packed and I need the next book, Ice Like Fire, RIGHT NOW.

7. MY LIFE NEXT DOOR – Huntley Fitzpatrick:

I only discovered Huntley Fitzpatrick this year when I read her books in July. My Life Next Door is the kind of contemporary novel I enjoy. The pace of it is just right and it contains some very sophisticated writing.

This book is inspired by Romeo and Juliet, and it follows Samantha and Jase who are next door neighbours. Sam’s mother is very put together and controlling, and she hates the Garretts who have moved next door. The Garretts are loud and there are 7 kids in the family. I loved the family elements that were explored in this book, and I really loved all of the characters in this book.

6. Just One Day – Gayle Forman:

This was the first Gayle Forman book I had ever read and it’s my favourite out of everything she’s written. I read this back in March and then marathoned Just One Year and Just One Night straight after. This book follows Allyson, who is a recent high school graduate. Her parents send her on a teenage tour around Europe. On her last day abroad, she meets a mysterious guy named Willem in London, and they decide to take an overnight trip to Paris. But when Allyson wakes up the next morning, Willem has disappeared. This is a book about self-discovery and Allyson is always the character that comes to mind first when I think about character development.

5. QUEEN OF SHADOWS – Sarah J. Maas:

This is the fourth instalment in the Throne of Glass series. This was released at the beginning of this month so it’s a very recent read for me. This is my favourite book in the series so far. It’s filled with so much drama, action and revenge! Plus the romance in the book… my ship is sailing!

4. Clockwork Princess – Cassandra Clare:

Clockwork Princess is the last book in The Infernal Devices trilogy. I read this in May. It was definitely the best series finale I’ve ever read. It made me love, it made me ugly-cry and it made me so happy too. This is my favourite book of Cassandra Clare’s.

3. I’ll Give You The Sun – Jandy Nelson:

I read this book at the end of February and it is by far my favourite YA book I’ve read this year. It won the Printz Award 2015 and I think it was well deserved. I’ll Give You The Sun is heartwarming, funny, romantic and quirky. It follows Jude and Noah, twins, who used to be very close up until they turned 13. They’ve each kept secrets from the other and told lies but now, at 16, they need to come back to each other and ‘remake the world’. The novel is written from dual perspectives and dual timelines. We see Noah’s side of the story from when they’re 13 and Jude narrates their 16 year old lives.

Go read this book. You won’t regret it!

2. A LITTLE LIFE – Hanya Yanagihara:

A Little Life is a recent read for me, but it has become my second favourite book I’ve ever read. It’s been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize this year and I think it’s absolutely brilliant. The novel follows four men, who were college roommates, from their college years up until their 50s or 60s. It’s a real and haunting story about the ordinary and extraordinary moments in life. The story has really stuck with me and I still think about it even now.

If this sounds interesting to you, I encourage you to check out my review, as well as other reviews, because this book contains some very mature themes as well as some triggers.

1. ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE – Anthony Doerr:

This should come as no surprise to anybody who has been following my blog for a while. This is my favourite book of all time. Ever since I read it back in February, I’ve been recommending it to everybody I see (including strangers at bookstores) and I’ve bought it for 3 of my friends for their birthdays this year. It is also the 2015 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

This is a World War II historical fiction novel about a blind French girl and an orphaned German Nazi youth, and how their stories eventually intertwine. This book has some of the most beautiful writing I have ever read and a story that has stuck with me for the last 6 months.


Honourable Mentions:


What are your favourite books you’ve read this year?

The Creative Blogger Award!

creative-blogger-award

I’m knocking a few more tags/awards off my to-do list and The Creative Blogger Award seemed like a good one to do. It also lets you know more about me! I was tagged a long time ago by the one and only Miss CW @ Read Think Ponder and recently by Dimple @ Enthralling Dimple. (Let me know if you’ve tagged me and I’ve forgotten.) Go visit these lovely ladies!

RULES

  • Thank the person who nominated you and include a link to their blog.
  • Share 5 facts about yourself.
  • Nominate some bloggers in return and notify them about their nomination.
  • Keep the rules in your post to make it easy for everyone to know what to do.

FACT 1:

I graduated with a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) degree and I’m now doing a PhD in psychology at the same university. My research looks at attentional biases (the bias towards paying attention to emotional information over non-emotional information) and how we might be able to help people overcome this bias. But I’m broadly interested in interactions between emotion, attention and visual perception.

Photo 18-06-2015 4 51 59 pm

FACT 2:

My PhD supervisor is American, as is one of the more senior PhD students in my lab who followed him all the way to Sydney. Because of this, I say some words with a bit of an American accent and I also do weird things like writing the date as mm-dd-yyyy instead of dd-mm-yyyy.

FACT 3:

I am currently obsessed with cronuts (the offspring of croissants and donuts). They are SOOOO good, but absolutely terrible for you! I usually get mine from the Adriano Zumbo stores in Sydney. They have one flavour every week (the one in the picture below was the Snickers flavour: peanut butter, caramel and chocolate). They had lemon meringue last week (lemon custard on the inside and Italian meringue on top), which was the best one yet. I love all lemon desserts!

Photo 22-07-2015 1 26 29 pm

FACT 4:

I haven’t borrowed a book from the library since about 2006. I’ve obviously borrowed reference books and textbooks from the university library, but I haven’t borrowed any fiction. I started earning money when I was 14 so I started buying all my books instead. Lately I’ve been thinking about borrowing eBooks or audiobooks from my local library, but I’m too lazy to renew my library card, which expired about 5 years ago.

FACT 5:

My favourite Disney movie is Mulan. I love the story and the soundtrack. And I love Mushu!


I NOMINATE:

A lot of people have done this Creative Blogger Award already, and I can’t keep track of who has or hasn’t, but I’m going to nominate some people anyway!

Review: Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Cafe by Milly Johnson

afternoon-tea-at-the-sunflower-cafe

Publisher: Simon & Schuster AUS
Release date: June 18, 2015 (will be re-released on December 1)
Format: eARC via NetGalley
ISBN13: 9781471140839
Pages: 513
Goodreads || Book Depository

Her marriage is all washed up. It’s time for a clean start…

Connie Diamond has always been her husband Jimmy’s ‘best girl’ – or so she thought. But then she discovers that he’s been playing away for the past twenty-four years, and that the chocolates she believed he bought her as a sign of his love were just a cover-up, and she is determined to get revenge.

Along with Della Frostick, Jimmy’s right-hand woman at his cleaning firm, Diamond Shine, Connie decides to destroy Jimmy’s life from the inside. Together they will set up a rival business called Lady Muck, and along with the cleaning ladies who meet at the Sunflower Café, they’ll make him wish he had never so much as looked at another woman.

Then Connie meets the charming Brandon Locke, a master chocolatier, whose kind chocolate-brown eyes start to melt her soul. Can the ladies of the Sunflower Café help Connie scrub away the hurt? And can Brandon cure her affliction and make her smile again…?

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

I received a free electronic copy of Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Cafe from Simon & Schuster via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Cafe is a fun, fast-paced story about getting revenge! The novel follows three women, who have been used by the men in their lives, and what happens when they decide to take their own destiny into their own hands. Even though this book is over 500 pages long, it definitely felt more like a 300 page book. I finished it in just two sittings because it was so fast-paced and engaging.

I thought the plot was extremely fun and the secrets and revenge had me hooked from the very beginning. We have Connie, whose husband, Jimmy, has been cheating on her since the beginning of their marriage 24 years ago and has been absent for most of their daughter’s life due to “work”. He claims that their cleaning business is just getting by when he’s really hiding away the money and spending it on lavish gifts for his mistresses. There’s also Della, Jimmy’s administrative assistant, who has been in love with Jimmy for the 15 years she has worked for him. When Della finds out that Jimmy is having an affair with the office junior he made her hire, she is outraged that he has never returned her feelings. Together, Connie and Della devise ways of taking down Jimmy’s business, which includes setting up a rival business and stealing all his cleaners and clients.

What I loved most about their revenge plot was that it wasn’t only about revenge. (Although the revenge was pretty good. Some of the things they did to sabotage Jimmy’s business were so funny!) It was also a book about friendship, and finding people who will support you and be there for you. It was about a group of ladies banding together and helping each other out, while making a fresh start.

We also get to see Cheryl’s story. She’s a cleaner who works at Jimmy’s business but lately she’s only had bad luck. Her long-term boyfriend has gambled away all of her savings again and her house is being egged. But then some good luck comes her way, and suddenly her life doesn’t seem so bleak anymore. I enjoyed Cheryl’s story the most out of the three. I loved seeing the relationships between Cheryl and each of her clients. They were so heartwarming to read about.

I was really rooting for all of the ladies in the book. They were all such believable characters. They all had doubts about what they were doing, and I just wanted them to succeed. My only criticism was that the book didn’t end on as big of a bang as I would have liked. I thought it was a bit predictable so I wasn’t as satisfied as I would have wanted to be. The Sunflower Cafe also doesn’t play that big of a role in the book. We do see sunflowers being used as a motif throughout the book, but I thought that the cafe would have played a bigger part in the story.

Despite what the description suggests, the new romances didn’t play a huge part in the book. Obviously I’m happy to see our ladies find new people who will make them happy and give them what they deserve… but I’m also glad that we didn’t see too much of the romance. It would have felt a bit unrealistic if the ladies just jumped into relationships with the first men they meet.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I read it so quickly that I didn’t even stop to take any notes (which is why this review is a bit incoherent). There is also lots of chocolate involved, so prepare yourselves!

Review: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

a-little-life

Publisher: Doubleday
Release date: March 10, 2015
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 0385539258
Pages: 720
Goodreads || Book Depository

When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

In rich and resplendent prose, Yanagihara has fashioned a tragic and transcendent hymn to brotherly love, a masterful depiction of heartbreak, and a dark examination of the tyranny of memory and the limits of human endurance.

MY THOUGHTS

5 stars

A Little Life is one of the books on the Man Booker Prize longlist for 2015 (the shortlist will be announced on September 15, and the winner will be revealed on October 13). I picked up this book back in June because I heard Max from WellDoneBooks on Youtube rave about it (and I pretty much buy whatever Max raves about). When it was announced as part of the Man Booker longlist at the end of July, I knew I had to read it.

This book is a masterpiece. I haven’t read any of the other longlist titles yet, but I think A Little Life has a great chance of winning. This book is honest, gripping, haunting, heartbreaking and it made me ugly-cry so many times as I was reading it. I didn’t think I could survive so many stabs to the heart. Even when I think about it now, I tear up a little. I think A Little Life is absolutely brilliant and is definitely one of my top three favourite books of all time.

Continue reading

Birthday Giveaway: $40 for Book Depository! [CLOSED]

giveaway header

Edit [23.09.15]: Congratulations to the winner of my giveaway, Kelly @ Dancing Through The Pages.

Later this month, I will be turning 20-something (clue: it’s an odd number) so I wanted to do a giveaway for you guys!

I’ve been saving up reward points at Dymocks, which is basically the Australian version of Barnes and Noble, and I now have a grand total of $52 in credit points (including $10 I was given for my birthday). I’ve decided to keep the $10 for myself and give away the $40 I saved up. Because I wanted to make this an international giveaway and Dymocks only ships within Australia, I’m going to make this a Book Depository giveaway. Who doesn’t love free shipping?

I wanted to do this giveaway because I’ve made so many new friends since I started this blog. There are people I talk to almost everyday and I’ve just had so much fun fangirling and sharing recommendations with everyone. I’ve spoken to so many people who have wanted editions of books that are not available in their country, so I thought this would be a great opportunity for one person to have pretty much anything they wanted, as long as it’s available from Book Depository.

However, I also know that some Australian YA books that I’ve reviewed aren’t available overseas. If there’s an OzYA book that’s not available on Book Depository (I recommend The Flywheel by Erin Gough), I can purchase it from a local bookstore and ship it to you!

GIVEAWAY RULES

  • This giveaway will end at 11:59pm AEST on September 22, 2015 (my birthday!). I apologise for living in a timezone that is almost a day ahead of everyone else.
  • This giveaway will be open to all countries that Book Depository ships to. If you’re not sure, you can look it up here.
  • There will be ONE winner who will be able to choose up to $40 AUD worth of books from the available titles on the Book Depository. Remember to change the currency to Australian Dollar on the website when you’re browsing!
  • The winner will be chosen at random through Rafflecopter.
  • I will contact the winner on September 23rd and if I don’t receive a response within 48 hours, I will choose another winner. I will be checking the winner’s entries so please don’t cheat!
  • I will be ordering the books for the winner and will require an address, so please make sure that you have parental permission if you are under 18 years of age.
  • Book Depository will be sending out the order so I take no responsibility for damaged or lost parcels. I will send you a shipping confirmation and keep you updated on the process though.

ENTER NOW

Click here to enter through Rafflecopter!

Good luck!

The Nostalgic Book Review Tag II

nostalgic-book-review-tag-header

The Nostalgic Book Review Tag was created by the beautiful Read Think Ponder and I was tagged by her. This is my second time doing this tag (check out my first nostalgic book review here) but I loved doing it so much that I needed to do it again! But this time, instead of reviewing a book, I decided to review my favourite manga of all time.

GUIDELINES:

The idea of this tag is that you choose a book you read over 3 years ago and review it from memory without looking up a summary of it.

Here is my summary of the guidelines:

  1. Summary: Provide a summary of the book, including approximately when you read it, without consulting Google or the book itself.
  2. Thoughts: Share your thoughts on the book, from memory
  3. Epilogue: Look up a summary of the book and share your thoughts on what you did or didn’t remember/current feelings about the book.

Continue reading

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Finished Series I Have Yet To Start

ten-series-want-to-start

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme created by the team at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is actually Ten Finished Series I Have Yet To Finish, but I usually marathon series from start to finish, so I couldn’t really think of any series that I’ve started but haven’t finished. I decided, instead to feature finished series that I have yet to start (and want to start). As always, my list is in no particular order.

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson:
This is on a lot of people’s all-time favourites list. I’ve been recommended this numerous times so I definitely need to get to it some time this year!

Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness:
This is a trilogy that I never paid very much attention to but recently it’s been catching my attention at every book store I go to. The concept of it sounds very interesting and it seems like something I’d enjoy.

Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta:
I’ve been recommended Finnikin of the Rock so many times in the past month that I picked it up at the beginning of August on National Bookshop Day. I’m excited to read it sometime in the next few weeks.

Divergent by Veronica Roth:
I know, I know. I should’ve read this a long time ago, but I’m not a very big fan of dystopians. I wanted to start the series when Allegiant came out but I was spoiled so I ended up not reading it. I bought Divergent in July so hopefully I can finally get around to reading it in the coming months.

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han:
I’ve had this trilogy on my shelf for about 4 months. I keep forgetting that I own these books so I still haven’t read them yet. I’ll probably read them in December when it’s summer in Australia. I loved Jenny Han’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before duology so I’m sure I’ll love this trilogy too.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins:
Another dystopian trilogy that I wasn’t keen to read. I’m thinking of marathoning the books and the movies before Mockingjay Part II though. Because I feel really left out when even my non-bookish friends discuss The Hunger Games.

The Study by Maria V. Snyder:
A couple of people recommended The Study series to me in July when I was at a meet-up. Since then, I’ve been seeing a lot of rave reviews around so I’m really keen to pick this up at some point.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan:
PJO is a very well-loved series that I haven’t read. I’m a little intimidated by how many books Rick Riordan has out. But I promise to read these very soon!

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor:
This is Katytastic’s favourite series and I’ve been meaning to pick these up since the first time I saw her talk about them. I’ll get around to these sometime in the next 12 months…..

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi:
I’ve always wanted to pick up the Shatter Me series but other books keep getting in the way. Now that there’s a TV show in the works, I’ll have to read this trilogy before the show airs.


Which of these series have you read and loved? Which one of these should I read first?

Summer Reader Book Tag

summer-reader

I don’t do awards or tags that often, even though they’re some of my favourite posts to read. But I’m currently reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara and it’s a 700+ page literary fiction book, with really intense and graphic scenes. Since it’s taking me a long time to read and I don’t have any review posts scheduled, I thought I would catch up on some tags and knock a few off my never-ending to-do list!

I was tagged by Joey @ Thoughts and Afterthoughts to do the Summer Reader Book Tag (which is my second summer-related book tag in a row). Thanks for tagging me Joey!


LEMONADE – A book that started off bitter but got better

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera:
This was the first one that came to mind. The first 100 pages of this book were very boring to me and I wasn’t connecting with any of the characters. But the book got better and better and it ended with such a bang that I still ended up giving this book 4.5 stars.


GOLDEN SUN – a book that made you smile beyond compare

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han:
This book is filled with cookies and baked goods. And if that isn’t enough to make you smile, it also has the most adorable romance and the cutest family ever.


TROPICAL FLOWERS – a book set in a foreign country

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr:
This is my favourite book of all time and probably my most talked about book on my blog. This book is a historical fiction novel set in WWII France and Germany. And I love it to bits.


TREE SHADE – a book in which a mysterious or shady character was introduced

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab:
Holland from ADSOM was the first shady character that came to mind. My first impression of him was VILLAIN but as the book progressed I wasn’t sure what to think of him. He’s definitely done some bad things but I still haven’t quite figured him and his motives out yet.


BEACH SAND – a book that was grainy, and the plot barely developed

99 Days by Katie Cotugno:
This book was a total waste of my time. The main character doesn’t seem to have learnt anything from her mistakes and there is no character development. The book ends with her running off to college and escaping all of her problems. I gave this 2 stars at the time of reading it, but it really should have been a 1.


GREEN GRASS – a character(s) that were full of life, making you smile

Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli:
I absolutely loved this book because it had the most adorable characters and romance. I loved reading from Simon’s perspective and this whole story and journey made me smile.


WATERMELON – a book that had some juicy secrets

I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson:
I thought this book was brilliant (and it’s one of my all-time favourite books)! This book is written from two perspectives and two timelines. Noah and Jude are twins and they were unseparable until they were 13 and something happens to tear them apart. Noah has one part of the story and Jude has the other, but until they come together again they’ll never find out the whole truth of what happened. READ THIS!


SUN HAT – a book that had a vast, big universe/setting

The Shadowhunter Chronicles by Cassandra Clare:
I definitely read a lot more contemporary books set in the real world, and I’m still discovering fantasy. But the Shadowhunter world seems pretty big to me (though it is urban fantasy…I DON’T KNOW!). To me, the Shadowhunter world is very intricate and well-thought out and I love all of the books.


BBQ – a book in which a character was portrayed as a hunk

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch:
Theron from Snow Like Ashes! There are even descriptions of his bare chest (see my review)! He’s definitely a hunk.
Honorable mentions: Tamlin from A Court of Thorns and Roses, Rowan from Throne of Glass, Will Herondale from The Infernal Devices, etc.


I TAG:

I’m terrible at keeping track of who has or hasn’t done what tag, so I tag you all!

Review: Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

everything-everything

Publisher: Delacourte Press
Release date: September 1, 2015
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 0553496646
Pages: 306
Goodreads || Book Depository

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

MY THOUGHTS

45 stars

Everything Everything is a wonderful book about taking risks and living life to its fullest potential. While it did tackle some serious issues, the overall tone of the book for me was quite light-hearted and it felt very refreshing. This book made me feel so hopeful and happy that I forgave some of its flaws.

I was very intrigued from the first time I heard about this book and I preordered it way back in May. I’ve read a lot of contemporary books about mental illnesses and one trope that we see a lot of is the ‘love cures all’ trope. I was interested in Everything Everything because our main character, Maddy, suffers from a physical illness that can’t be magically cured by love. I’ll get into this a little bit more later in my review.

I want to talk about the cover of this book first. I’ve heard so many positive comments about the cover and I didn’t understand why everyone thought it was so beautiful until I had it in my hands and was able to look at it up close. This cover is stunning! The illustrations are so intricate and everything on that cover is related to something that happens in the book (cover illustrations by Good Wives and Warriors). I also have the American hardcover edition and the jacket has that buttery texture. It’s one of the best covers I’ve seen in the last couple of months.

This novel also contains beautiful illustrations throughout it and these are actually done by Nicola Yoon’s husband, David Yoon. I thought the illustrations added a lot to the story and really enhanced it. This book is written in very short chapters, sometimes only a page long, and is filled with notes that Maddy has written, as well as instant message exchanges between characters. I loved the different mediums that were added to the story. I thought it made the book fun and hopeful instead of serious and sad. The little notes and illustrations we got were my favourite part of the book.

So let’s discuss the plot and the themes. In Everything Everything, Maddy has a serious illness that prevents her from doing anything, including going out or even having visitors in her own home. She’s well and alive as long as she’s kept a prisoner in her own home, with only her mother (a physician) and her full-time nurse for company. We actually don’t get very much information about Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID), which is the syndrome that Maddy has that makes her allergic to everything. There were times when I wished we had gotten a bit more information about SCID, just to satisfy my curiosity, but for the most part I was happy to accept the little information that we were given. I also sometimes prefer that books don’t go into a lot of detail and include a lot of jargon because I encounter so many books that misrepresent mental illnesses. So it’s probably better when authors don’t write too much about things they don’t know about.

For me, the last quarter of the book and the plot twist were kind of predictable. It was obvious to me that that was the direction that the plot would take. It’s probably the best way that everything could have turned out, but I almost wished that it had ended differently so things didn’t happen just to make the romance work. It was a bit disappointing that it still ended up being a bit of a ‘love cures all’ type of book. If you’ve read the book, let me know what you think (no spoilers, of course). There were also some things that I found VERY unrealistic, but I don’t want to spoil anyone so I won’t mention what they are.

I really loved watching Maddy grow in this book. She starts off as a pretty passive character but slowly grows into somebody who learns to take risks and experience the unknowns in order to truly be alive, even at the expense of her own life. I loved seeing Maddy appreciate things that I would normally take for granted and I enjoyed seeing the world through Maddy’s eyes as she encountered new things, such as travelling in a car for the first time. I liked her willingness to try new things. There were times when I felt she was being too reckless and it seemed too out of character for her to be risking her life for a few moments of fun. And I also felt that she was a bit inconsistent in her thoughts about whether she’d rather be trapped in a room or dead from doing things that normal people do. Examples below:

I’m on my way home, I’ll remain trapped there forever.

I’m alive, and don’t want to be.

Love can kill you and I’d rather be alive than out there living.

Overall, I really liked Maddy’s character. It was easy to connect with her and read from her point of view. She’s also a book nerd! There were times when I forgot she was 18 because of her innocence. But I loved that she was able to develop and start to take control of her own life. I thought Olly was a great romantic interest for Maddy. He’s very caring and loves his family, and he seemed like the perfect person for Maddy. I did think that their relationship was very insta-lovey and developed too quickly for my liking. It was understandable that Maddy would be drawn to Olly because he’s probably the first teenage boy she’s ever met, but I didn’t understand Olly’s interest in Maddy. They pretty much fell in love without even speaking a single word aloud to each other, and I didn’t think that was very realistic. I still thought they were adorable together and I loved reading about their relationship.

I liked how real the characters felt and that they each had their own issues to deal with. Olly’s father is mentally and physically abusive to his wife and kids, and that added an interesting dynamic to the story. The first half of the book makes a lot of emphasis on the black rubber band that Olly wears and keeps snapping on his wrist. That made me a little bit worried that he was suicidal, because snapping a rubber band against your wrist is a common behaviour that is used as a substitute to cutting. At this point, I was a bit worried about where the story was going to go, but luckily it never went in that direction. There were some mental health elements in the book, but they were never explored very far before the book was over. I do like that the novel had a very open ending. It was a very satisfying and cute ending to the book.

I have many more thoughts about this book but I should probably end it here. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I will probably reread it again in the near future. If you’ve read Everything Everything, let me know if you agree or disagree with any of my thoughts!