Wrap Up: November 2015

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Welcome to another monthly reading wrap up. I had a really great reading month and I read a lot of high quality books. I have so many new favourites! A lot of the books that I read this month were really chunky too (e.g. Winter, Carry On, Chaos Walking). I read a total of 6739 pages!

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Reading summary header

The books appear in the order that I read them and my reviews are linked. I am a co-blogger at Happy Indulgence and I also post reviews there.

1. Siege and Storm – Leigh Bardugo  4 stars

The second book in the Grisha Trilogy. It was a step-up from Shadow and Bone but it lacked action and plot. While enjoyable, it was a filler book and we didn’t really learn anything new.

2. Ruin and Rising – Leigh Bardugo  45 stars

The final book in the Grisha trilogy, Ruin and Rising was by far the best book in the trilogy. It had more action and the pace of the book was more consistent. Also, the epilogue was amazing!

3. The Intern – Gabrielle Tozer  25 stars

An Australian YA novel about a shy and awkward girl who gets an internship at a popular fashion magazine. It was much too cliched and full of contemporary YA tropes for me to enjoy.

4. Faking It – Gabrielle Tozer  25 stars

The sequel/companion to The Intern. I felt exactly the same way about it as I did about The Intern. It was a novel that made me feel like I was too old for YA…

5. Carry On – Rainbow Rowell  5 stars

An amazing, amazing fantasy novel. It is Rainbow Rowell’s take on the Simon Snow series that was introduced in Fangirl. The characters, magic system and world were all phenomenal!

6. Love and Other Perishable Items – Laura Buzo  4 stars

Another Australian YA novel. This book is set in Sydney, Australia and explores self-discovery, growing up and first love. It is very realistic and relatable and I loved it!

7. Winter – Marissa Meyer  5 stars

The fourth and final book in the Lunar Chronicles series, which is my favourite series of all time. It was an epic, action-packed conclusion and I’m so sad that the series is over. I could read 10 more books set in this world, about these characters.

8. Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo  5 stars

A new fantasy duology set in the Grishaverse. This is an epic and intense heist story that features a cast of complex and interesting characters! I absolutely loved all of the characters and the setting and world building in the book was amazing.

9. Denton Little’s Deathdate – Lance Rubin  4 stars

This is a contemporary novel with some sci-fi elements. This book is set in the near future, in a world where everybody knows their deathdate. The book takes place over 48 hours, starting on the day before Denton Little is scheduled to die.

10. What We Saw – Aaron Hartzler  45 stars

A deep and thought-provoking story about doing the right thing. I have written a review of this that will be going live on Wednesday.

11. Night Owls – Jenn Bennett  4 stars

A cute and sweet contemporary romance featuring two artists that fall in love through their art. It involves a realistic and honest relationship.

12. A Step Towards Falling – Cammie McGovern  35 stars

This book features characters that have developmental/learning disabilities. It also explores the idea of doing the right thing and not judging people by their appearances.

13. The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness  45 stars

The first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy, this book is fast-paced, unique and terrifying. It has some very realistic but strong individuals and the relationships and character interactions in this book will give you all the feels.

14. The Ask and the Answer – Patrick Ness  45 stars

Book 2 in the Chaos Walking trilogy. It was a fantastic sequel, full of action and politics.

15. Monsters of Men – Patrick Ness  5 stars

This is the final book in the Chaos Walking Trilogy and it was an amazing conclusion! For me, this was the best book of the trilogy, and if you haven’t read Chaos Walking yet, I highly recommend it! A review of Monsters of Men will be up on Sunday.

16. The Weight of Water – Sarah Crossan  45 stars

A novel that’s written in free-verse and extremely quick to read! This is an emotional coming-of-age story about a 12 year old Polish girl who moves to London with her mother in search for her father who has left them.

T10T

I posted four Top Ten Tuesdays in November:

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BTCYA (HARPERCOLLINS YA EVENT)

HarperCollins Australia held a YA event in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney in November and I went to the Sydney event on November 20th. We looked at upcoming 2016 HarperCollins YA releases and also took home a VERY generous goodie bag! I have done a full event recap over at Happy Indulgence (along with Jeann, who went to the Brisbane event), with photos and all that good stuff.

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Photo credits: HarperCollinsAU

SARAH J. MAAS AT KINOKUNIYA, SYDNEY

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I went to the Sarah J. Maas event in Sydney last week on the 25th and got to meet her and have some of my books signed. It was an AMAZING day and she was so funny, bubbly and nice! I was also lucky enough to snag a front row seat!

Sadly, there was a 3-book signing limit and only one of them could be personalised so I got my copies of Throne of Glass, Queen of Shadows and A Court of Thorns and Roses signed. Initially, it was a 5-book limit, but they had to change it to 3 in order to keep it consistent across all of her Aus/NZ events 😦

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We weren’t allowed to film or take posed photos with her (they threatened to kick us out if we did – there were a billion other rules too) but I did manage to get a candid shot with her. When she was signing my books I asked her if there’s a character she’s ever regretted killing off (e.g. my beloved Sam). Her answer was no, because the character deaths had to happen in order for the story to progress. But she did say that when she was writing Queen of Shadows, she wished Sam was still alive and that she misses him.

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See you next month, and happy reading!

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Review: The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

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Publisher: Walker Books
Release date: May 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
Pages: 553 (Includes bonus short story)
Goodreads || Book Depository

The Ask and the Answer is the second book in the Chaos Walking trilogy. Therefore, there will be spoilers in this review. Check out my thoughts on Book 1, The Knife of Never Letting Go, if you haven’t started the trilogy.

 

THE ASK AND THE ANSWER SYNOPSIS

Fleeing before a relentless army, Todd and Viola once again face their worst enemy, Mayor Prentiss.

Immediately imprisoned and separated from Viola, Todd is forced to learn the ways of the Mayor’s new order.

And then, one day, the bombs begin to explode…

Tense, shocking and deeply moving, The Ask and the Answer is a heart-wrenching exploration of free will and resistance under the most extreme pressure.

MY THOUGHTS

45 stars

After the heart-stopping cliffhanger at the end of The Knife of Never Letting Go, Todd and Viola find themselves separated, with no knowledge of where the other is or if they’re even still alive. They find themselves working for opposite sides of a war that is brewing in New Prentisstown, and they must try to stay true to themselves and do what is right even when faced with enormous pressures to conform.

What I loved most about this book was the social commentary that it provided. While The Knife of Never Letting Go examined self-discovery and identity, The Ask and the Answer looks at the bigger picture and explores free-will in an oppressive environment, terrorism and war, power and resistance, among other themes. I enjoyed the focus on the grey areas, on the fact that life isn’t black and white and that there is no right or wrong. What the book makes us realise is that things that are seemingly wrong are not always wrong and things that we do ostensibly for the greater good are not always right. Throughout the book we see our characters vacillate between this blurred spectrum of right and wrong, and their internal struggle to determine what’s best for the world and what’s best for themselves.

For me, the pace of this book was much slower than The Knife of Never Letting Go. Even though it was still a quick read for me, I felt like there were times when nothing was happening. The first 150 pages had almost not action and I wasn’t really excited by it until we got past the 25% mark. However, the rest of the book was exciting and I enjoyed seeing the conflict and the struggle for power. The book ends with a powerful climax and another unbearable cliffhanger. You should probably have Monsters of Men on hand so that you can continue straight away. I took a lot of willpower for me to stop and write this review 😀

We still get the same almost stream of consciousness writing style in this book but it was less noticeable for me than it was in The Knife of Never Letting Go. In this second instalment, we also get to read from Viola’s perspective and it was interesting to see the differences in writing style and voice between the two perspectives. I probably still enjoyed reading from Todd’s perspective a little bit more because I love his voice and how well the writing flows. But I still really enjoyed being able to see from Viola’s point of view. The shifts in perspective were smooth and didn’t feel jarring. I am in love with Patrick Ness’s writing!

The characters in The Ask and the Answer were fantastic. I enjoyed being able to see Todd and Viola develop further in this book, and develop separately. I probably enjoyed The Knife of Never Letting Go a little bit more than The Ask and the Answer purely because we don’t get to see as much of Todd and Viola together (I SHIP) but I also thoroughly appreciated being able to see them grow separately, with different influences. Needless to say, the scenes where they were together were my favourite in this second book. Another thing that I admire about Patrick Ness is his ability to make me loathe a character in one book and love them in the next. There were characters that I was expecting to hate forever and ever but they ended up being big surprises and I went all teary-eyed at some parts. All of the characters are extremely complex and make me continue to question their motives. Also, for those of you who were upset about Manchee in the first book, there’s another animal friend in this novel that might help cure your heartache. But Manchee will never be replaced! NEVER!

Overall, I thought this was a wonderful sequel! Even though it was a bit slower and didn’t have as much action as the first book, it never felt like a filler book. I enjoyed it as much as The Knife of Never Letting Go and I’m excited (and a little bit scared) to jump into Monsters of Men right now.

Around the World in YA Tag

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The Around the World in YA Book Tag was originally created by Becca @ Becca and Books. I was tagged by Deanna @ A Novel Glimpse. The rules are simple: List a country, and then show which favourite book of yours is set in that country. You can use the countries I have used, add your own, or use completely different ones!

AUSTRALIA

love-and-other-perishable-items Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo is an Australian YA novel that I recently read and loved.

It’s an absolutely wonderful novel about growing up, transitions, self-discovery and first love. This book is set in Sydney, where I live, and I thoroughly enjoyed being able to read about places that I recognise and have been to. I also really related to the two main characters and the situations they were going through.


CHINA

cinder I couldn’t think of a YA novel that I’ve read that’s set in China. So I went with Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

Cinder is set in New Beijing, which is a futuristic China or Asia. It seems to be a combination of all the Asian countries… The Lunar Chronicles is my favourite series of all time, and I loved that the first book, Cinder, features some Asian characters and Asian culture. The other books in the series takes us to France, Africa, and the moon!


FRANCE

all-the-light-we-cannot-see Is this even a surprise to anyone?

My favourite book set in France has to be All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. There’s no competition. I know it’s not YA, but I couldn’t give up the opportunity to talk about this book! I guess if I had to choose a YA novel, I’d go with Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins. This one is set mostly in Paris, but the characters travel to Barcelona and New York City as well.


GERMANY

the-book-thief I could have also put All the Light We Cannot see for this one, but I’m getting really predictable these days.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is my favourite YA novel set in Germany. I read this when I was in school and I loved the setting of it so much! WWII Germany is one of my favourite settings to read about, along with pretty much anything else that’s set during WWII, in case you couldn’t tell from my love of All the Light We Cannot See.


INDIA

just-one-year Just One Year by Gayle Forman is set partly in India. You probably all know how much I love Just One Day by Gayle Forman. Just One Year is a companion that follows Willem’s adventures as he tries to reunite with Allyson.

He travels all over the world, from the Netherlands to Mexico, to India… and other places. At one point, he visits his mother in India and ends up being cast in a Bollywood movie.


nETHERLANDS

the-fault-in-our-stars The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is set partially in Amsterdam. I could have gone with Just One Year by Gayle Forman again, or even Just One Day, but I’m sure you’ve had enough of me raving about that duology.

In TFIOS, we follow a girl called Hazel Grace, who’s obsessed with a book written by an author who lives in Amsterdam. The book doesn’t have an ending (I think. I can’t remember!) so she travels to his home in Amsterdam to ask him about what happens next.


THE UNITED KINGDOM

carry-on My favourite YA novel set in the UK right now is Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. It’s inspired by Harry Potter, so it’s set in the Watford School for Magicks in the UK.

I love everything about it, including the world, magic system and the characters. OMG the characters. I love Simon and Baz so much. SnowBaz definitely wins my OTP of the year award! They are adorable individually and together ❤ ❤ ❤


USA

ill-give-you-the-sun Since most books I read are set in the US, I had to just choose my favourite YA novel of all time, I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson.

This book is set in California and follows a set of twins, Jude and Noah, who are both hiding secrets. They used to be really close but something has torn them apart, and now they barely speak. What they don’t know is that if they came together and shared their secrets, they could figure out the truth and repair their relationship.


I TAG:

Once again, I’m tagging some of my newest followers:

 

 

Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

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Publisher: Walker Books
Release date: May 8, 2008
Format: Paperback
Pages: 512
Goodreads || Book Depository

Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in a constant, overwhelming, never-ending Noise. There is no privacy. There are no secrets.

Then, just one month away from the birthday that will make Todd Hewitt a man, he unexpectedly stumbles on a spot of complete silence. Which is impossible.

Breathtakingly exciting and emotionally charged, The Knife of Never Letting Go is a compelling original story of fear, flight and the terrifying path of self-discovery.

MY THOUGHTS

45 stars

Holy moly. I’m going to keep this review short so that I can jump straight into Book 2: The Ask and the Answer, because this book ends on the most unbearable cliffhanger. The Knife of Never Letting Go is the first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy and I need to preface this review by saying that if you plan on reading The Knife of Never Letting Go, you should have the other two books on hand! Warning: I just finished reading this novel so this review probably won’t make too much sense.

The Knife of Never Letting Go is a sci-fi, dystopian novel, set in New World, where everybody can hear everybody else’s thoughts, or their Noise. In this world, animals and living things also have Noise. 12 year old Todd Hewitt lives in Prentisstown with his two guardians and his dog, Manchee. There are no women in Prentisstown and Todd is the only boy left in his small town. One day, Todd stumbles finds a spot of complete silence and discovers that things in Prentisstown, and on New World, aren’t as he’s been told. His new discovery leads him to have to pack up his belongings and run away from Prentisstown.

It’s probably best to go into the book not knowing anything because it’s a thrilling and suspenseful story about survival and self-discovery. We follow Todd as he escapes from Prentisstown and makes his way around the New World. Along the way, he is hunted by an army from Prentisstown and a crazy preacher who seems to be out to get him. I enjoyed the suspense in this novel quite a bit. We were left in the dark from the very beginning and things are only revealed to us as they are revealed to Todd. I didn’t find myself speculating very much, simply because everything was complex and unpredictable and I was happy to just go along for the ride. There were some scenes that were quite violent and gruesome, and the suspenseful tone of the book made these even more bloodcurdling and horrific. This plot was definitely a rollercoaster ride for me. It gave me multiple heart attacks and ripped my heart out. There were lots of feels and a bit of crying.

The uniqueness of the writing style hits you straight away. The book is written in first person narration, in an almost stream of consciousness manner. It’s something that might take a while to get used to but the style of it definitely enhanced the story for me. I felt completely immersed in the world and Todd’s story, and the writing flowed beautifully because of its stream of consciousness nature.  I found myself just flying through the book because of how well the writing flowed and how everything had its place. I thoroughly enjoyed Todd’s voice and thought it suited his character very well. There are intentional grammatical and spelling issues to showcase Todd’s background and his lack of education that might irk some readers but I didn’t have any issues with it, even though I’m a big grammar Nazi.

I really liked the characters in this book a lot. Todd was a protagonist that I didn’t always love, but his actions and his thoughts were realistic, and it was easy for me to forgive his bad decisions and shortcomings. He’s definitely an isolated boy who wants to belong but doesn’t conform to society’s expectations. I was amazed by the strength in his character. It’s hard to remember that he’s just a child because he’s doing all these incredible things to survive. I appreciated that we got to witness his inner turmoil and his efforts to maintain his innocence when the rest of the world is trying so hard to break him. I loved the development and growth in his character and thought it was the most noteworthy aspect of the book. His mental strength and willpower amazed me. However, my favourite aspect of this book was the beautiful relationship between Todd and his talking dog, Manchee. Manchee was by far my favourite character and I had a lot of Manchee feels. Cue tears.

I thought the villains in this book were also exceptional. They were so evil and terrifying that I was actually scared by how insane and crazy they were. It was also incredibly horrifying how persistent these villains were in their pursuit. One guy literally has half his face bitten off (there’s a hole in his cheek and he’s missing a nose) and he’s still alive and chasing after Todd. It was scary and horrific, but also perfectly executed and I need to start The Ask and the Answer now.

Goodbye!

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books That Changed My Life

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created by the team at The Broke and the Bookish. This week is Thanksgiving-themed, so I’m going to feature ten books that have made a difference in my life and I’m thankful to have read.

1. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

This wouldn’t be a Top Ten Tuesday if this amazing book wasn’t in it. This is my favourite book of all time and I still don’t really know how it changed my life but I remember putting the book down and feeling like I was a different person to who I was before I read it. I think I even wrote in my review something along the lines of “I don’t know how but this book has changed my life”. This might sound a little bit strange but, in a way, I felt enlightened? I kind of felt like I’d had some sort of mental cleanse and there was a moment of absolute freedom and clarity. I’m probably sounding like a crazy person right now.

2. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

I probably don’t need to explain this one. The Harry Potter series was my obsession from when I was about 10 years old until I was about 17? I read Harry Potter fanfiction all the time and my whole life was about Harry Potter.

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I had to read this book for school when I was in Year 8. It had come out the previous year in Australia and our teachers made us read it for English class because it was getting a lot of recognition worldwide that year. The Book Thief was the first required reading that I remember enjoying immensely. It was probably also the book that ignited my love for WWII historical fiction.

4. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

TFIOS was the book that got me back into reading YA. I read it a couple of months before the movie came out and that slowly got me back into YA and fiction in general. Before that I was reading a lot of non-fiction and psychology related self-help books.

5. Rurouni Kenshin by Nobuhiro Watsuki

This is my favourite manga of all time (also my favourite anime and live action movie) and it was the first manga series that I remember reading. After reading Rurouni Kenshin, I fell in love with manga and I still read a lot of manga to this day.

6. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

This was another book that I had to read for English class in high school and it was another one that I really loved. This book is a Man Booker Prize winner and it really made me aware of literary prizes. I love reading prize winners now and I follow the Man Booker Prize really closely.

7. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

This is my favourite classic of all time and it was the first one that I read independently of class and loved. It’s such a great story with some really complex characters. It made me fall in love with Oscar Wilde and I’ve loved everything of his that I’ve read so far. This book pushed me to read more classic literature outside of class.

8. The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton

I featured this one recently in a book tag so this might sound repetitive… but The Magic Faraway Tree was one of the first books that I read by myself as a kid. It was read to me in school when I was about 6 years old and I loved it so much that I made my parents buy it for me so that I could read it again by myself. This led to me being obsessed with Enid Blyton and at one point I owned almost everything she’d ever written.

9. I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

This novel is my favourite YA novel of all time, but that’s not why I’m featuring it today. This book was one of the first LGBTQ+ books that I read after getting back into reading. And it made me realize how much I love books that feature LGBTQ+ characters and explore sexuality. So I guess it opened my eyes to the whole #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement.

10. A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

This is another strange one but this was the first Shakespearean play that I read from start to finish. It made me see that 16th century English in iambic pentameter isn’t as intimidating as I thought it was… which was a good thing because we had to study one of Shakespeare’s plays each year.


What are some books that have made a difference in your life or have shaped you into the reader you are today?

Review: A Step Towards Falling by Cammie McGovern

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Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Release date: November 10, 2015
Format: Paperback
Pages: 364
Goodreads || Book Depository

Sometimes one mistake can change everything.

Emily doesn’t know why she froze. Or why Lucas did too. They could have helped Belinda, but they didn’t.

Sometimes people can surprise you.

Emily thought she knew Lucas. And she thought she understood Belinda. But maybe she judged them both too quickly.

Sometimes good can come from bad.

Emily and Lucas’s punishment is community service with people with disabilities. People like Belinda. Soon they feel like maybe they’re starting to make a difference. But can they do anything to help the one person they hurt the most?

MY THOUGHTS

35 stars

A Step Toward Falling is a wonderful story about developmental disabilities, doing the right thing, and not judging people by their appearances. It was definitely an eye-opening read with some diverse characters that are rarely featured in YA, but I thought that the book felt a little bit long and draggy in parts.

The story kicks off with Emily and Lucas being sent to do mandatory volunteer work as punishment for not helping a student in need even though they were both present at the scene. At a football game, they witness a student with disabilities, Belinda, being sexually assaulted but neither of them make a real effort to report the crime and get help. In order to teach Emily and Lucas to be more sympathetic to disadvantaged populations, they are required to volunteer weekly at a class that teaches young adults with disabilities about relationships and boundaries. But Emily and Lucas soon realise that their volunteering isn’t directly helping Belinda, so they set out on a mission to make a difference in her life.

“If you witness an assault, it’s your responsibility to tell someone.”

Even though this novel deals with some serious issues, it never felt angsty. Neither Emily nor Lucas feel like they’ve been unfairly punished and, in fact, they both agree that they didn’t do enough to help Belinda and are happy to accept their punishment. It also never felt like Belinda was wallowing in self-pity (even though it would’ve been completely justified); she takes her time to deal with what happened before moving on. I really enjoyed the lighter tone of the book and appreciated that it wasn’t a dark and heavy book about the repercussions and consequences of what happened.

A Step Towards Falling has a strong focus on individuals with developmental disabilities. Most of the characters in the book are disabled and the book did a wonderful job at educating readers about these individuals and how they should be treated just like any other human being. It has a great message about not judging people by how they appear because who they really are might surprise you. The characters in the book are able to have healthy romantic relationships and friendships, and can even do some things better than typically developing individuals can. I appreciated being able to get to know the characters and how they react and behave, instead of just being thrown information about disabled people.

The book is written from the perspectives of Emily and Belinda. We get to see both of them grow and develop in different ways. Emily learns not to judge a book by its cover. Through her interactions with Lucas and Belinda, she finds herself questioning her first impressions of them. She learns not to apply stereotypes because each person is multifaceted and deserves to be treated equally. Belinda also learns to treat people with kindness and respect, but hers is a heartwarming story about forming friendships and relationships with others. She learns to stop being judgmental and bossy, and to consider the feelings of others.

I’ve never had a best friend before except for Nan and Mom of course. But I think this is what having a best friend feels like. Where you care about them being happy as much as you care about yourself being happy. Maybe even more.

My favourite aspect of this book were the relationships between the characters. The friendships between Emily, Lucas, Belinda and Belinda’s friend, Anthony, were so heartwarming to read about. They supported and encouraged each other, and it nearly made my heart burst from all the warm and fuzzies. I also loved the romantic relationships in the novel because they were honest and developed very naturally. The romance definitely takes a backseat to all of the other things happening in the book, and it felt very appropriate and properly handled. I enjoyed the characters individually, especially Lucas and Anthony, but I didn’t feel a strong connection to either Emily or Belinda. They did grow on me as the book progressed and I did like them a lot, but there were times when I felt a little bit indifferent about what was happening in their lives. (I did think Belinda’s obsession with Colin Firth and Pride and Prejudice was adorable though!)

My biggest issue with this book is the pacing. It was very slow at the beginning and I didn’t really know where the book was going until about the halfway point. It felt a little bit plotless, and while I enjoyed reading and learning more about disabled individuals and where they stand in society, I needed a little bit more plot. I started seeing a clear direction when I reached the second half of the book but the pace of the book didn’t pick up until I reached the last third of the novel. It was the dragging pace of the book that made me give it a 3.5/5 because I thought A Step Towards Falling was very well executed, and definitely worth the read!

The Burrito Bowl Book Tag

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The Burrito Bowl Book Tag is the brain child of Joey @ Thoughts and Afterthoughts and Cristina @ Girl in the Pages.  I was tagged by Summer @ Xingsings a couple of weeks ago, but I needed to stock up on chips, salsa and spicy guacamole before I could write up this post.

RULES TO DEVOUR THIS TAG:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you to make your own burrito bowl, linking back to their site
  2. Answer the tag questions
  3. Tag 5 others to create their own bowl
  4. Food coma

THE BURRITO BOWL BOOK TAG

RICE: THE FOUNDATION – “THE BOOK THAT GOT YOU INTO READING (OR BOOK BLOGGING)”

blinky-billthe-magic-faraway-treeBlinky Bill by Dorothy Wall and The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton were both books that were read to me when I was about 5 or 6 years old.

These books really made me interested in reading, and I think as soon as I could read for myself, I read nearly all of Enid Blyton’s books and I followed them up with lots of Roald Dahl as well.


BEANS: THE FILLER – “A BOOK WITH A WHOLE LOT OF NOTHING HAPPENING”

a-little-something-different A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall was a whole book of nothing.

It’s a story about two college students falling in love and their journey towards being together… Except they fall in love in the first 5 pages, and the rest of the book is just 200 pages of them staring at each other longingly across the room, talking about mundane things and eating at the same cafes and restaurants. It was actually the most boring romance ever. Definitely not worth your time.


PROTEIN: THE BUILDING BLOCK – “A BOOK QUOTE TO LIVE BY”

I had the hardest time choosing a quote for this question. There are a lot of quotes from books that I like, either because they’re funny or because they make me go all soft and squishy inside. But it was really hard to come up with a quote to live by… I ended up going with a Throne of Glass quote:

My name is Celaena Sardothien,” she whispers. “And I will not be afraid.
The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas


FAJITAS: THE CRUNCH OF TEXTURE – “A BOOK WITH IMMACULATE WORLD BUILDING”

harry-potter-and-the-philosophers-stone Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling was the obvious choice for this one. Although I was going to choose Six of Crows and the Grisha world by Leigh Bardugo, since I read that one recently.

The whole wizarding world in Harry Potter is so well thought out. I mean who doesn’t love Hogwarts, Hogsmeade and the rest of the world? The magic system is amazing… and OMG just everything about the Harry Potter world is perfect.


SALSA: THE DANCE OF FLAVOUR – “A BOOK THAT KEPT YOU ON YOUR TOES”

six-of-crows Okay Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo wins this one. It was super hard to choose between this one and Winter but the whole heist story in Six of Crows definitely kept me on my toes.

There’s so much that happens in this book and there are twists and turns everywhere. Even though the characters have a plan that they need to execute, there are so many surprises and unexpected turns of events that made the book unpredictable!


CORN: THE EXPLOSION OF SWEETNESS – “A MEMORABLE SCENE INVOLVING FRIENDSHIP/ROMANCE”

carry-on How could I choose anything but SnowBaz from Carry On by Rainbow Rowell?!

Every single scene with Simon and Baz are my favourites but I think the scene that made my heart melt the most was their first kiss. It was so heartwarming to see Simon be led by his feelings and nothing else. There was no hesitation on his part, and it was just the most unexpected but perfect scene ever.


CHEESE: THE BOND OF CALCIUM – “TWO CHARACTERS FROM DIFFERENT BOOKS YOU WISH COULD BE FRIENDS”

I have so many friendships that I want to see happen but I chose two characters that I’ve read about recently. Cress from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer and Inej from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. They’re both kind of badass in their own ways, but they’re also both really quiet, sensitive and loyal to their friends. They’d be really great besties!


SOUR CREAM: THE TANGY TOPPER – “THE QUIRKIEST CHARACTER YOU’VE EVER READ (PROTAGONIST OR SUPPORTING)”

winter Yes, I chose Winter from Winter by Marissa Meyer (I actually cannot shut up about this book).

Winter’s not quirky as much as she is just plain crazy. She has some crazy hallucinations due to her not using her Lunar powers. She frequently sees blood on the castle walls and also sees herself freezing into a block of ice all the time. But she does some really strange things and also has some crazy one-liners. I love her.


GUACAMOLE: THE COST OF CREAMINESS – “A BOOK YOU PAID TOO MUCH FOR (BASED ON UTILITY EXPERIENCED)”

dream-cities The Dream Cities – Colouring for Mindfulness book was definitely a book that I’ve paid too much for.

I think I’ve coloured in about 20% of a page… and nothing else. I bought this one online and didn’t really like the illustrations in it. I much prefer the other two that I own: The Secret Garden by Johanna Basford and Tropical Wonderland by Millie Marotta. I’ve done a bit more of these ones.


LETTUCE: THE HANDFUL OF CRISPNESS – “A REFRESHING CONCEPT/THEME IN A BOOK”

the-rest-of-us-just-live-here The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

This was a fun and unique spin on the whole idea of the Chosen One in fantasy. It’s a satirical piece that makes fun of the concept of the special group of kids or “the indie kids” who seem to always be running into dangerous situations or saving the world. The Rest of Us Just Live Here focuses on the normal characters that are in the background while the indie kids are doing their thing.


CHIPS: LE PIÈCE DE RÉSISTANCE – “A MUST-READ RECOMMENDATION IF YOU LIKE [THIS BOOK/GENRE – YOU DECIDE!]”

the-lake-house The Lake House by Kate Morton is a book that I would recommend if you like historical fiction.

My go-to recommendation for historical fiction is always All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, which is my favourite book of all time. But I thought I’d change it up this time. The Lake House is a wonderful historical fiction novel about the mysterious appearance of a baby in Cornwall in the 1930s and what really took place that evening.


TABASCO: THE KICK TO THE FACE – “YOUR FAVOURITE FIGHT/ACTION SEQUENCE”

queen-of-shadows I haven’t given enough love to Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas lately (btw I’m meeting her on Wednesday!!!)

I absolutely loved the last action scene of Queen of Shadows. It was such an epic climax and ending to the book! My favourite part of that scene was when you know who transforms into a ghost leopard and comes racing through the streets to save the day. That was so epic and it made me love that character even more!!!


I TAG:

I’m going to go back to my old method of sharing the love. Today I’m tagging 5 of my recent followers to make their own burrito bowl 🙂

Review: Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo

Love&OtherPerishableItems.indd

Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Release date: July 2, 2015 (previously as Good Oil, in 2010)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 296
Goodreads || Book Depository || Booktopia

From the moment Amelia sets eyes on Chris, she is a goner. Lost. Sunk. Head-over-heels infatuated with him. It’s problematic, since Chris, 21, is a sophisticated university student, while Amelia, 15, is… 15.

Amelia knows it’s not going to happen. So she plays it cool around Chris – at least, as cool as she can. Working together at the local supermarket, they strike up a friendship: swapping life stories, bantering about everything from classic books to B movies, and cataloguing the many injustices of growing up. Their conversations crackle with wit, and, as time goes on, Amelia’s crush doesn’t seem so one-sided anymore. But can two people in such different places in life really be together?

Award-winning author Laura Buzo shows how the things that break your heart can still crack you up.

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

Love and Other Perishable Items is an Australia YA novel set in Sydney. Despite it’s cute cover and summary, this is not a fluffy contemporary romance novel, which was honestly what I was expecting when I picked it off the shelf at my bookstore. What I got, instead, was a deep and moving story about first love, friendship and growing up.

I don’t think I’ve ever related to a story and its characters more than I did when reading this novel. It’s a story about transitions, and having been a 21 year old university student not too long ago, and a 15 year old high schooler a little further back, I could relate to both Chris and Amelia. I’ve been through the uncertainties that come with graduating from university. Do I move out of my parents’ house? Do I get a full-time job or pursue further studies? Chris was going through the same crisis in this book, and I felt like we understood each other. At the same time, I could see my 15 year old self in Amelia – the slightly awkward and quiet girl who feels out of place among her older coworkers and her school friends who have just discovered the boys from the school next door.

I absolutely loved the characters. They’re real and full of flaws. The relatability and realism of it was really refreshing. I appreciated that even though the characters were having a rough time figuring out where they fit in the world, they didn’t try to change themselves for anybody. It would have been so easy for Amelia to be sucked into the glamour of being friends with an older guy who parties and drinks excessively. But she stands her own ground and, while she does give in sometimes, she acts with a maturity that I wouldn’t have expected from my 15 year old self if I had been in her position. She’s honest and likeable, and you can’t help but be sucked into her world. I really loved Amelia and I felt like I went through all of her experiences with her. My heart melted and broke right along with hers, and I couldn’t help but have a little cry at times too.

The romance for me was completely realistic too. It was heartwarming and heartwrenching, and completely relatable to anybody who’s ever suffered through unrequited love. I enjoyed how the story played out for them and thought it ended in the best way possible. Both characters made small mistakes but they also made very mature decisions that we honestly don’t always see in the young adult genre.

The familiarity of the setting was also something that I thoroughly enjoyed. My university is mentioned in the book and it was amazing being able to read about places that I had been to or still walk past every day. Because everything felt so familiar, I almost felt like I was reading about my past self. I definitely need to read more books set in Sydney because the level of excitement I felt was unreal!

I also really enjoyed the format of the book. It had an interesting format where we get to see little snippets of their lives. There are no chapters in this novel but the book is split into 4 sections, with a couple of epilogue-like pages at the end. Two of the sections are written from Amelia’s perspective and the other two from Chris’s point of view, and they alternate throughout the book. From Amelia’s perspective, we get to see significant moments in her life, written in a traditional prose format. Chris’s sections are written as diary entries, documenting not only significant events that have taken place in his life, but also his innermost thoughts and feelings. These book doesn’t follow a linear timeline, though the events in each section are mostly chronological. While it was a little bit disconcerting that each section didn’t pick up where the previous had left off, I liked being able to see how separate Chris and Amelia’s lives were and how they intertwined too. The writing in this book was beautiful and a pleasure to read!

“There’s no sense in hanging around people who make you unhappy again and again.”

There were many great life messages in this book and it was incredibly insightful. Laura Buzo touches on things like feminism and less-than-perfect families. There are also lots of references to classic literature like Virginia Woolf, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Charles Dickens. Though I should warn you that there are major spoilers for The Great Gatsby and Great Expectations, so if you don’t want to know the endings, I suggest you read them ASAP!

For anybody who’s looking for a book about real people and real events without over-dramatisation, I highly recommend this one (and it’s also available in the States!).

Top Ten Tuesday: Quotes From Ten of My Favourite 2015 Reads

ten-quotes

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created by the team over at The Broke and The Bookish. This week I’m featuring quotes from ten of my favourite books that I’ve read this year. It was really hard to choose just one quote from each book because I love all of these books for their beautiful writing and the quotable quotes…so I did two for some of the books. XD

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Werner hears Marie-Laure inhale, Marie-Laure hears Werner scrape three fingernails across the wood, a sound not unlike the sound of a record coursing beneath the surface of a needle, their faces an arm’s reach apart.

He says, “Es-tu là?

It was so difficult to choose just one quote from All The Light We Cannot See because it’s my favourite book of all time! So I chose a second one 😀 This quote is actually from a radio program that Werner listens to, and it spoke to me because I’m a psychology major and I love the brain.

The brain is locked in total darkness, of course, children, says the voice. It floats in a clear liquid inside the skull, never in the light. And yet the world it constructs in the mind is full of light. It brims with color and movement. So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?


A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Wasn’t it a miracle to have survived the unsurvivable? Wasn’t friendship its own miracle, the finding of another person who made the entire lonely world seem somehow less lonely?


I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

Quick, make a wish.
Take a (second or third or fourth) chance.
Remake the world.


Winter by Marissa Meyer

It was unnerving, to think she was being psychoanalyzed by someone who frequently complained that the castle walls had started bleeding again.

This one made me swoon (and it’s directed at someone who you may not expect):

He didn’t apologize. Instead, he set his jaw and met her eye again. “I will protect Winter with my life. Second only to her, I promise to protect you too.”


Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

You know it has to be a SnowBaz quote XD ❤

He’s still looking in my eyes. Staring me down like he did that dragon, chin tilted and locked. “I’m not the Chosen One,” he says.

I meet his gaze and sneer. My arm is a steel band around his waist. “I choose you,” I say. “Simon Snow, I choose you.”


Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

“When you fight now, I will be still by you. When you walk in the world, I will be the light at your side, the ground steady under your feet, the force that drives the sword in your hand. We are bound, beyond the oath. The Marks did not change that. The oath did not change that. It merely gave words to something that existed already.”


Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

“Stay,” he said, his voice rough stone. “Stay in Ketterdam. Stay with me.”


Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

I’m not going to pretend I know how this ends, and I don’t have a freaking clue if it’s possible to fall in love over email. But I would really like to meet you, Blue. I want to try this. And I can’t imagine a scenario where I don’t want to kiss your face off as soon as I see you.

And I couldn’t not include this one:

“Why is straight the default? Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it shouldn’t be this big awkward thing whether you’re straight, gay, bi, or whatever.”


My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Jase and Samantha are one of my favourite couples but I had to go with some George quotes. He’s just the most adorable 4 year old! He’s super knowledgeable, but also super paranoid haha.

“I like eggs and bacon,” George tells me. “But” – his face clouds – “do you know that bacon is” – tears leap to his eyes – “Wilbur?”

Mrs Garrett sits down next to him immediately. “George, we’ve been through this. Remember? Wilbur did not get made into bacon.”

“Then is bacon Babe, Mom? Is it Babe?”

And another great George moment:

“Is Jase already going to marry you?”

I start coughing again. “Uh. No. No, George. I’m only seventeen.” As if that’s the only reason we aren’t engaged.

“I’m this many,” George holds up four slightly grubby fingers. “But Jase is seventeen and a half. You could. Then you could live in here with him. And have a big family.”

Jase strides back into the room, of course, midway through this proposition. “George. Beat it. Discovery Channel is on.”

George backs out of the room, but not before saying, “His bed’s really comfortable. And he never pees in it.”


A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

I threw myself into that fire, threw myself into it, into him, and let myself burn.


Thanks for reading. See you in my next post!

Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

six-of-crows

Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Release date: September 29, 2015
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 465
Goodreads || Book Depository

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

MY THOUGHTS

5 stars

Six of Crows is a massive step-up from Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy! Every aspect of this book was better. The world was more detailed and intricate. The characters were much more fascinating and developed. The writing and pace of the book were consistent and beautiful. And the plot was much more action-packed.

Six of Crows is set in a completely different part of the world to The Grisha trilogy. It’s set in Kerch and Fjerda, which were not really explored in the trilogy at all. It almost felt like I was reading about a completely different world. Because I read The Grisha trilogy quite recently, it took me a couple of chapters to wrap my head around the new Kerch setting, and distance myself from everything I knew about Ravka from the trilogy. Because the setting is so different, it’s completely fine to read Six of Crows without having read The Grisha trilogy, but you do get a much better understanding of the world and the Grisha system if you’ve read the trilogy.

My main criticisms of Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm was the inconsistent pace and lack of action. Those books were action-packed at the beginning and end, but lacked any kind of plot in the middle. Six of Crows did not disappoint me in that regard. The plot has a consistent pace and there’s action throughout the whole book. There were surprises coming left and right, and little twists that will keep you on your toes! The twist at the end was a little bit predictable (I was buddy reading with Joey @ Thoughts and Afterthoughts and Jesse @ Books at Dawn, and we had kind of speculated and expected it – well Joey did) but there were also elements that surprised me. The ending made me really excited for the sequel, and I’m sad that we have to wait a whole year.

My favourite aspect of the book were definitely the characters. Even though the plot was fantastic, this was definitely a character-driven story. There is an extremely diverse set of characters who hail from all parts of the world, from Fjerda to Novyi Zem. It allowed me to get to know the different parts of the Grishaverse a lot more deeply. I went into the book expecting all six of our heist crew to be Grishas, so I was surprised to find out that most of them were just normal people with some amazing talents. I think I enjoyed the book a lot more because they weren’t all Grisha. The diversity added a lot more dynamics to the book.

“If Pekka Rollins kills us all, I’m going to get Wylan’s ghost to teach my ghost how to play the flute just so that I can annoy the hell out of your ghost.”

Brekkar’s lips quirked. “I’ll just hire Matthias’ ghost to kick your ghost’s ass.”

“My ghost won’t associate with your ghost,” Matthias said primly, and then wondered if the sea air was rotting his brain.

I loved all of the characters and the interactions between them. They joked around together, supported each other, and had each other’s backs. There was no selfishness and the friendships between all of the characters were lovely to read about. Individually, they were sassy and badass, and I really liked how wise and mature they were for their age (though at times, it was definitely hard to believe that these were just teenagers). The ladies were probably my favourite of all of the characters. They’re so fierce and so relatable! Inej is the quiet and sensitive, but completely fearless and talented spy of the group. I love, love, loved her character! Nina is the Grisha of the group and she has the ability to control the organs and bodily functions of anyone she sees.  Aentee @ Read at Midnight called Nina her spirit animal, and I can totally see why. She loves to eat, isn’t a morning person, and is completely unapologetic about it. Just her love of cake and all things sweet makes her my kindred spirit, but when she drops hilarious one-liners, it makes me love her even more.

“Are you aware that I could waggle my fingers and make you wet your trousers?”

But I also really loved the guys too. I thought the back stories of all of the characters were interesting, but Kaz and Matthias’ pasts were the most interesting to me. We get to see some flashbacks throughout the book and I loved being able to contrast the little, innocent boy that Kaz used to be, to the ruthless, soulless but completely lovable Kaz of the present. I also thought that Matthias’ past was fascinating. He is a shamed Grisha-hunter and I enjoyed seeing all his inner conflict and the growth of his character throughout the book. Jesper and Wylan were some unexpected characters with some unexpected talents. I loved the two of them together and thought their interactions were gold!

“You’re sure we can’t just go in as entertainers? I hear Wylan really kills it on the flute.”

The blossoming romances in this book made me fangirl so hard! Kaz and Inej have this very comfortable and trusting relationship, where they support and rely on each other. Every scene they had together made my heart race and I was rooting for them. I loved that they can’t stop thinking about each other and that they’re taking steps to become better individuals so that they may deserve each other. There was also this tension between Nina and Matthias from the very first time we saw them together, and I kept wanting to know what their history was. Their whole love-hate relationship was definitely an interesting one. For me, their romance kind of overshadowed the relationship between Kaz and Inej, but I’m expecting to see a lot more Kazej/Inaz in the next book! I ship!

Overall, this was a great new novel by Leigh Bardugo and I’m incredibly happy to see that her writing continues to improve! If you love great characters or a good heist story, this is the one for you.