Wrap Up: March 2016

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Welcome to my 200th post! Can you believe I’ve posted 200 times on this blog? I’m super proud to say that 120 of those posts were book reviews because I love sharing my opinions and spreading the love. I’ve also done 39 Top Ten Tuesday posts… so I guess the remaining 40 posts are wrap ups, hauls and tags.

I did pretty well this month with my reading. I did feel a little bit slumpy in the middle of the month and I wasn’t reading as much at that time. But I came home strongly and did a lot of reading during the Easter break. I read 17 books this month and I’ve completed half of my 2016 Goodreads challenge already. Right now, I’m about 26 books ahead so I’ll probably end up increasing my goal this year. I was also in a blogging slump this month. I usually review almost every book that I read, and this month… well, you can probably see how many I actually reviewed from the lack of review links down below…

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Reading summary header

1. What I Saw – Beck Nicholas  3 stars

An Aussie YA book about alcohol-fuelled violence that focused too much on the romance and not enough on the issues that it needed to explore. It was middle of the road for me.

2. The Yearbook Committee – Sarah Ayoub  4 stars

A lovely novel set in Sydney that focuses on friendships and the bonds that can be created between people who are very different. This book is written from five different perspectives, but it never felt like there was too much going on.

3. The Sidekicks – Will Kostakis  45 stars

This is another Aussie YA novel that focuses on friendship and grief. The book is about three boys who shared the same best friend and what happens when that best friend passes away. It’s a really short book that packs quite a punch.

4. Dirty Rowdy Thing – Christina Lauren  35 stars

I read Sweet Filthy Boy, the first novel in this companion series, last month and wasn’t that big of a fan. But I decided to give Dirty Rowdy Thing a go because everybody seems to love these books and I wanted to see if it could change my opinion. And… again, it was good but not great. I’m not sure that I’ll continue with Book 3 but these are great NA books if you’re feeling slumpy.

5. Trouble – Non Pratt  2 stars

This book is about teen pregnancy and I couldn’t really connect with the story or the characters. I was just really frustrated with the characters and the author’s writing style. I’m glad that I read it but it wasn’t anything special.

6. Iron to Iron – Ryan Graudin  45 stars

This is a novella that follows one of the side characters from Wolf by Wolf. It was wonderfully written and if you enjoyed Wolf by Wolf, you’ll enjoy this novella. If you haven’t read Wolf by Wolf, I would definitely deter you from reading this novella until you’ve read Wolf by Wolf because it will ruin your reading experience of that novel.

7. Lady Midnight – Cassandra Clare  45 stars

I was so excited to have a new Shadowhunters book in my hand but I wasn’t sure that I’d enjoy this one because I wasn’t a big fan of Emma Carstairs or Julian Blackthorn when I met them in City of Heavenly Fire. But this book was SO GOOD! Everything was wonderful, besides the very last part of the book, which had one of my most hated tropes… It was the only reason why I took off half a star.

8. Prince’s Gambit – C.S. Pacat  35 stars

This is the second book in the Captive Prince trilogy. I didn’t really see what all the hype was… I thought this book was just a little bit better than average. I liked the characters and the romance but the actual plot of the book was kind of lacking. I had a hard time remembering who everybody was and even though there was lots of political intrigue and strategy, I had a hard time following it all because it wasn’t very well-developed.

9. Kings Rising – C.S. Pacat  4 stars

This is the final book in the Captive Prince trilogy and it was better than the first two books. I still thought the plot was a little weak but overall, I enjoyed it a lot more.

10. Identity – Milan Kundera  3 stars

This was a book that I started reading about 7 years ago but never finished. I finally picked it back up this month and it was really good. I just wasn’t really in the mood for literary fiction and I think I could have enjoyed it more if I had really spent the time trying to delve deeper into story and the messages.

11. Beautiful Broken Things – Sara Barnard  2 stars

This book had me shaking my head so hard. It’s a book about friendship and I just did not enjoy it at all because I disliked all of the characters and thought the friendship was a very unhealthy one. The main character is highly frustrating and ignorant and I just wanted to slap her across the face.

12. The Complete Maus – Art Spiegelman  4 stars

This is a bind-up of the two volumes of Maus by Art Spiegelman. It’s about Spiegelman’s father’s story and how he survived the Holocaust. The story was very meta – it followed not only his father’s story but also the story of how Art learnt about what happened from his father. While I enjoyed that aspect of the book, I also didn’t really like it because I found Art very dislikeable. I probably would have liked the graphic novel a lot more if it was just about WWII and the Holocaust.

13. The Way I Used To Be – Amber Smith  2 stars

This is a story about rape and the main character’s struggle to deal with what happened. This book is split into four parts and each part follows one year in the MC’s high school life. I really didn’t like this book at all. It’s basically a story about self-destruction and we just see the MC be increasingly nasty to everyone around her until she hits rock bottom. I couldn’t connect with her or her story and didn’t find it to be emotional at all. The book had no effect on me and I couldn’t really see what messages the author was trying to convey.

14. The Girl From Everywhere – Heidi Heilig  4 stars

This was a really fun time travel book. I really enjoyed the characters and the romance that was in the book. It was a really quick read and I thought it was great. The only thing that I struggled with was some of the time travel aspects. I didn’t think the rules were set out very well and I had a little bit of a hard time following some of the logic of the story.

15. Love is the Higher Law – David Levithan  4 stars

I love David Levithan’s writing and this was another wonderful book. This book follows three people’s experiences with 9/11 and how it affected them at the time and afterwards. As someone who was really young and half a world away when 9/11 happened, I really appreciated being able to see the impact that it had on New Yorkers and how the event continues to stay with people.

16. Frankie – Shivaun Plozza  5 stars

This was a really amazing Aussie YA debut novel about disadvantaged youths. It was a beautiful coming of age story, with a fantastic set of characters and writing that everybody can relate to. I absolutely loved it and can’t wait to read more by Shivaun.

17. This is Where the World Ends – Amy Zhang  3 stars

This novel was a bit of a rollercoaster ride for me. It started off as one thing and then quickly morphed into something that I wasn’t completely expecting. The book had lots of great messages about rape and sexual assault and I enjoyed the plot. However, I was disappointed with the characterisation and didn’t really like the two protagonists. I just couldn’t connect with them enough to give this book more than a 3 out of 5. A review of this will be up next week.

DNF-ED

The Chimes – Anna Smaill

While the writing in this book was undoubtedly beautiful, it was much too flowery and purple for me to get into the story. The syntax was strange and there were so many big words that I didn’t know the meaning of that I pretty much was just skimming over the text. I pride myself on my wide range of vocabulary, and to read a book that made me consult a dictionary every second page… was just not enjoyable. I just didn’t understand what I was reading so I DNFed this at 30%.

T10T

I posted 5 Top Ten Tuesday posts in March:

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Recent 5-Star Reads

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It’s Tuesday, which means another Top Ten Tuesday post. Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and I’m super excited about this week’s post because I love talking about my favourite books. I haven’t actually rated very many books 5 stars in recent weeks so some of these go back to January and December…

1. Frankie by Shivaun Plozza

This is Shivaun Plozza’s debut novel and I absolutely loved it. I read this one a couple days ago and was just immersed in the story from the first page. It was heartwarming and heartbreaking and I loved the characters. This book focuses on disadvantaged youths and those who come from a lower socioeconomic status. I thought it handled everything really well and I can’t wait to read Shivaun Plozza’s next book! (A review of this book will be up on Happy Indulgence tomorrow!)

2. A Tangle of Gold by Jaclyn Moriarty

A Tangle of Gold is the third and final book in The Colours of Madeleine trilogy. I thought the first two books were great but this third book blew my mind with its twists and how everything was tied up in the end. I loved it so much and it’s currently one of my favourite series.

3. Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

I really enjoyed this novella bind-up. I’ve been going through The Lunar Chronicles withdrawals and Stars Above helped fill that hole in my heart. I enjoyed every single one of the stories and thought The Little Mermaid retelling and the wedding/epilogue story were absolutely amazing. I also enjoyed how the book came full circle, despite the stories being largely unrelated.

4. The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

I didn’t write a review for this book because I loved it so much that I didn’t think I could put that love into words. This book has magical realism, which is one of my favourite things in the world. It was just really well-written, with lots of interesting and diverse characters that you can’t help but fall in love with. I thought it was a really magical and unique book.

5. Max by Sarah Cohen-Scali

Max is one of my favourite YA WWII historical fiction novels. This one was super unique and was written from the perspective of Max. We follow Max’s story from before he was born, up until the end of the Hitler regime. Reading from the perspective of a fetus was a really interesting experience and if you’ve ever wanted to know more about the Lebensborn program, I really recommend this one!

6. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

This book is now one of my favourite contemporaries. I love Morgan Matson’s writing and I think this one if my favourite of all of her books that I’ve read. It had the most wonderful coming of age story that had a great balance of romance, friendship, family and grief.

7. The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

The second book in The Winner’s Trilogy, The Winner’s Crime is one of my all-time favourite books. It was so full of tension and anticipation, and I highly enjoyed the atmosphere and how epic the book felt, despite not having a lot of action. I can’t wait to read the final book and I have no idea why I haven’t picked it up yet.

8. Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods by Rick Riordan

This was a highly entertaining guide to the major Greek Gods. It’s narrated by Percy and he just made the whole book really fun to read. I loved the learning experience and it definitely did not fail to make me laugh.

9. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

This is the third book in Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle. Blue Lily, Lily Blue is my favourite of the three books that are out at the moment. It was just a really great continuation to the series and the pacing was just right for me. I love where this series is headed and I can’t wait to see how it all ends. Not long to go now!

10. The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

The final book of Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Last Olympian had everything that I could have wanted. It was a really epic end to a really fun and action-packed series. It had action from the very beginning and it made me really excited to pick up some of Rick Riordan’s other series.


Did you rate any of these books 5 stars? I hope I convinced you to read some of these because I really love them!

Winning with Jenna: Whimsical, Magical Books

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Welcome to the second installment of my recommendations series. Today I’m going to feature three of my favourite books with magic. These are all whimsical and fun.


carry on Title: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Release date: October 6, 2015
Rating: 5 out of 5
Goodreads || Book Depository || Amazon

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here – it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On: The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost story, a love story, and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story – but far, far more monsters.

Carry On was one of my favourite books of 2015 and if you’ve known me for a while, you’ll know how absolutely obsessed I am with this book. The world and the magic of Carry On were hilarious and lots of fun! The characters were so amazing and I loved the relationships between them. SnowBaz is also one of my favourite ships of all time. I just love this novel so, so much, and you’re definitely missing out if you haven’t read it yet!


a corner of white Title: A Corner of White (The Colours of Madeleine #1) by Jaclyn Moriarty
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Release date: September 18, 2012
Rating: 4 out of 5
Goodreads || Book Depository || Amazon

Madeleine Tully lives in Cambridge, England, the World – a city of spires, Isaac Newton and Auntie’s Tea Shop.

Elliot Baranski lives in Bonfire, the Farms, the Kingdom of Cello – where seasons roam, the Butterfly Child sleeps in a glass jar, and bells warn of attacks from dangerous Colours.

They are worlds apart – until a crack opens up between them; a corner of white – the slim seam of a letter. Elliot begins to write to Madeleine, the Girl-in-the-World – a most dangerous thing to do for suspected cracks must be reported and closed.

But Elliot’s father has disappeared and Madeleine’s mother is sick. Can a stranger from another world help to unravel the mysteries in your own? Can Madeleine and Elliot find the missing pieces of themselves before it is too late?

A mesmerising story of two worlds; the cracks between them, the science that binds them and the colours that infuse them.

The Colours of Madeleine is my most recent obsession. I absolutely love this series and the world Jaclyn Moriarty has created. The novels are colourful and magical, and it’s difficult to comprehend the fact that I won’t ever be able to visit the exciting Kingdom of Cello. The first two books in this series are lots of fun but the final book absolutely BLEW MY MIND. It was sooooo good! I highly recommend this one if you’re looking for something that’s unique and lots of fun.


the sleeper and the spindle Title: The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman (illustrated by Chris Riddell)
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release date: May 3, 2014
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Goodreads || Book Depository || Amazon

A thrillingly reimagined fairy tale from the truly magical combination of author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Chris Riddell – weaving together a sort-of Snow White and an almost Sleeping Beauty with a thread of dark magic, which will hold readers spellbound from start to finish.

On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment. She casts aside her fine wedding clothes, takes her chain mail and her sword and follows her brave dwarf retainers into the tunnels under the mountain towards the sleeping kingdom. This queen will decide her own future – and the princess who needs rescuing is not quite what she seems. Twisting together the familiar and the new, this perfectly delicious, captivating and darkly funny tale shows its creators at the peak of their talents.

This was a very interesting retelling of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. It was imaginative and empowering. I thought the illustrations by Chris Riddell really enhanced the story. The story is a little bit dark, unlike the previous two books I featured, which were more fun and magical, but I really liked that hint of darkness and thought it was a beautiful reimagining of some well-known fairytales.


I hope you enjoyed these recommendations. I love these books so, so much and hope you check them out, if you haven’t already!

Review: The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith

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Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release date: March 22, 2016
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 384
Goodreads || Book Depository

Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes.

What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be.

Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year—this provocative debut reveals the deep cuts of trauma. But it also demonstrates one young woman’s strength as she navigates the disappointment and unbearable pains of adolescence, of first love and first heartbreak, of friendships broken and rebuilt, and while learning to embrace a power of survival she never knew she had hidden within her heart.

MY THOUGHTS

2 stars

This book was a missed opportunity. Ostensibly, this book explores rape and the effects of rape or sexual assault on victims, but what I read was a four year journey of self-destruction and recklessness on the part of the main character. For me, it was 300+ pages of not much substance.

At the beginning of the novel, 14-year-old Eden is raped by her older brother’s best friend. She doesn’t tell anybody what happened to her and holds the secret inside of her throughout high school. This book follows her journey from freshman year to senior year. Which was the first problem that I had with it. Because the book spans such a long amount of time, nothing is really explored in detail. There were lots of time skips and things just seemed to happen out of the blue. One day she’s chugging along nicely at school and the next she’s being bullied and called a whore. One day she’s calling her parents ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ and the next she’s calling them by their first names (which was really confusing when it first happened because I thought they were new characters that randomly appeared). I would have preferred to see the catalysts for these events, rather than a general overview of her high school life. The story just lacked depth and I felt really disconnected from everything that was happening. I also didn’t think that the novel was very well-resolved at all. I just wanted a lot more from the plot.

Eden is probably my least favourite main character I’ve ever read about. She was so incredibly dislikeable and just… nasty. Initially, she was an okay character. I enjoyed that she wasn’t the typical popular girl who became reclusive after going through a traumatic experience. She was the nerdy girl who blended in with everybody around her, and I appreciated the message that these things can happen to anybody. However, Eden quickly became very frustrating and dislikeable. She reinvents herself to disconnect from the naive and innocent person who went through that traumatic experience. But I was extremely frustrated by the fact that she thought that the person she wanted to be and the person she “could stand to be” was somebody who smokes multiple cigarettes a day. She ditches her friend because she doesn’t want to be seen with someone uncool, and pretty much just acted like a bitch to everybody around her. She was selfish and constantly lied to everyone. She was just a horrible person who used the people around her without a thought for their feelings.

I just didn’t think that this book delivered very good messages to young readers. I didn’t approve of any of the things that Eden did in this book. She engages in a lot of drinking, smoking and pretty much has sex with every guy who looks at her (she mentioned that she’s been with 100 guys). She  throws tantrums and snaps at everyone around her, especially her parents, who seem to always be either absent or extremely passive. While I can appreciate that this is a depiction of one fictional character’s experience with rape, and the confusion and thoughts that come with having gone through such an experience, I don’t think this book presents a good message for readers who might have gone through a similar experience. Younger readers might think that it’s acceptable to behave in the same reckless and irresponsible way that Eden behaves, or that people aren’t victims of rape if they don’t act in such a way. I thought that the whole issue was handled terribly and I had no idea what the message of the book was besides the fact that you should probably report these things if they happen to you. Oh, and that it’s okay to be extremely rude and disrespectful to your parents and everybody around you because you’ve been through a tough time.

My opinion seems to be an unpopular one since most people on Goodreads have rated this 5 stars and loved it. But for me, this was a total let down. It hardly explored the issues that I thought needed to be addressed and ultimately, it was just a 300 page book about a dislikeable girl who engaged in reckless and undesirable behaviour until she lost all of her friends and hit rock bottom. If you’re looking for a book about rape or sexual assault, I wouldn’t recommend this one at all.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That I Love But Haven’t Talked About Enough

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, there is a topic and bloggers create a list based on that topic. This week’s theme is books that I loved but haven’t talked about enough.

1. The Colours of Madeleine trilogy by Jaclyn Moriarty

This is an Australian YA fantasy trilogy and I absolutely loooove it. I’ve actually talked about this book quite a bit over on Happy Indulgence, where I reviewed all three of the books. But I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned how much I love the series, on this blog! The first two books were good but the final book, which came out in February, was AMAZING. This series is like a wonderful mix of contemporary and fantasy elements. It’s magical, colourful, funny and exciting, and I highly recommend it.

2. The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

This is a book that I enjoyed so much that I was scared to review it. Which sucks, because you guys probably didn’t know that it’s currently one of my favourite books of the year so far. This is a Romeo and Juliet story about forbidden love. Cluck and Lace come from rival families and fall in love. Their romance was soooo great and is definitely one you can root for! There’s magical realism in this book, which just speaks to my soul.

3. Just One Day by Gayle Forman

I’ve recommended this one a few people individually but I thought I needed to profess my love for this book in this post. Just One Day is my favourite of all of Gayle Forman’s books. If you were disappointed with I Was Here (don’t worry, I was too) and you didn’t love If I Stay as much as you thought you would, I recommend her Just One Day duology! Both Just One Day and Just One Year are fantastic! The epilogue novella, Just One Night, was also absolutely amazing. If you want a great coming of age story with lots of travel, please check out this duology!

4. Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

I’ve given both of Robyn Schneider’s books 5 stars. Severed Heads, Broken Hearts (aka The Beginning of Everything) was amazing, but I enjoyed this one even more. It was bittersweet and fun, with lots of amazing characters. It had the fun, as well as the depth, and I thought it was a really well-balanced story.

5. Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Saint Anything is the epitome of a great contemporary novel. It has intriguing and relatable characters, realistic friendships and romances and it actually explores the issues that it sets out to explore. On top of that, there’s a lot of mention of pizza in this book, which just warms my heart.

6. My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

Last year, I read a whole pile of books about teen suicide, all at the same time. My Heart and Other Black Holes was one of the standouts (along with The Last Time We Say Goodbye, which topped the list). Forget All the Bright Places. Forget I Was Here. My Heart and Other Black Holes is where it’s at! What I think it has that the ever popular All the Bright Places doesn’t, is an accurate representation of depression and suicide. All the Bright Places kind of shocked me into liking it with all of the emotions and feels (when honestly it wasn’t even that great). My Heart and Other Black Holes really sucked me in with the writing and the realism, and it received a 5 star rating from me because it was a great book, and not because it shocked me into loving it.

7. Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

I don’t think I can explain why I loved Finding Audrey as much as I did. It was just a really adorable and funny book about anxiety that still managed to portray it well. The characters were hilarious and I loved the format of the book. I also liked that it wasn’t a ‘love cures all’ kind of book. It was just wonderful!

8. What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

I always seem to talk about My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick, but I love What I Thought Was True almost just as much. The characters are wonderful and the love interest is a super nice guy. What more could you ask for from a contemporary romance? It also has a lovely summer setting and you will just absolutely fall in love with. As with all of Huntley’s books, the writing is beautiful to read and your eyeballs will sign with happiness!

9. Every Day by David Levithan

This is one of my favourite LGBTQ+ books. There are so many diverse characters in Every Day and I appreciated all the representation that was in this novel. Every Day has a really intriguing premise and I enjoyed every single page of this book. I cannot wait for the sequel to come out!

10. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

This is one that everybody loves, so I probably don’t need to profess my love for it. But I’ve realised that I rarely talk about how much I loved it. It was a wonderfully conceptualised and crafted world that you can’t help but be sucked into. I loved most of the characters and were really intrigued by them. Most of all, I just really want Kell’s coat. I’ve been putting off reading AGOS because I really want to reread the last third of this book to refresh my memory first. But I hear people raving about AGOS left and right, so I might just jump straight into it.


Are any of these books on your favourites list? Which ones have I convinced you to pick up? 😄

 

Winning with Jenna: Australian YA Contemporary

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I’ve been in a bit of a reading and blogging slump lately, and I’ve been wracking my brain for post ideas. So I’ve decided to do a recommendations series on this blog. I love talking about books that I enjoyed and you guys seem to love getting recommendations from me. I’ll feature three books in each of my posts and hopefully, you’ll discover something new to fall in love with!

Full credit goes to Joey @ Thoughts and Afterthoughts for the title, ‘Winning with Jenna’. Last year, I had planned to do a bookish awards post to talk about my favourites of the year and Joey came up with the title for me. I never ended up creating that favourites post so I thought I’d use it now.

Today, I’m going to kick off my recommendation series with Australian YA contemporaries. A lot of my readers seem to be really interested in Aussie YA but have no idea where to start. Here are three of my favourite contemporaries, written by Australian authors.


the flywheel Title: The Flywheel by Erin Gough
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
Release date: February 1, 2015
Rating: 5 out of 5
Goodreads || Book Depository || Amazon

Seventeen-year-old Del drops out of high school when her romance with another girl goes horribly wrong. Preferring chaos to bullying, Del makes it her mission to save her dad’s crumbling café, the Flywheel, while he ‘finds himself’ overseas.

Accompanied by her charming troublemaker best friend Charlie, Del sets out to save the cafe, keep Charlie out of prison, and maybe get a date with Rosa, the beautiful flamenco dancer from across the road. But when life is messy enough as it is, can girl-on-girl romance ever have a happy ending?

This was a wonderful LGBTQ+ novel that fans of Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda would love! It was heartwarming and funny and I absolutely adored the characters in this book. This book is set in Sydney and features lots of places that I’m familiar with. When I read this one last year, it was unavailable outside of Australia but now you can get the ebook from the Kindle store and the physical book from Book Depository.


the stars at oktober bend Title: The Stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Release date: February 1, 2016
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Goodreads || Book Depository || Amazon

Alice is fifteen, with hair as red as fire and skin as pale as bone, but something inside her is broken. She has acquired brain injury, the result of an assault, and her words come out slow and slurred. But when she writes, heartwords fly from her pen. She writes poems to express the words she can’t say and leaves them in unexpected places around the town.

Manny was once a child soldier. He is sixteen and has lost all his family. He appears to be adapting to his new life in this country, where there is comfort and safety, but at night he runs, barefoot, to escape the memory of his past. When he first sees Alice, she is sitting on the rusty roof of her river-house, looking like a carving on an old-fashioned ship sailing through the stars.

I absolutely loved this book when I read it back in January. It was beautifully written, with a strange combination of prose and poetry. The characters and relationships in this book are fantastic and they’ll stay with me for a long time to come.


the sidekicks Title: The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Release date: February 29, 2016
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Goodreads || Book Depository || Amazon

The Swimmer. The Rebel. The Nerd.

All Ryan, Harley and Miles had in common was Isaac. They lived different lives, had different interests and kept different secrets. But they shared the same best friend. They were sidekicks. And now that Isaac’s gone, what does that make them?

The Sidekicks is a masterpiece. It is such a relatable book and really packs a punch, despite being under 250 pages long. It was a powerful story about grief and camaraderie, and how even the most different of people can become friends. I highly recommend this one to anyone who wants a realistic and relatable read!


I hope you liked my first Winning with Jenna post. I’ll probably feature Australian YA fantasy novels in my next recommendations post but let me know what else you’d like to see.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books On My Autumn TBR

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You’ll probably have noticed that I don’t do TBR posts because what I read really depends on my mood. But the topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, which is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is books that are on my Spring TBR (which I’ve changed to Autumn TBR because southern hemisphere), so I thought I’d list a couple of books that I plan to read in the next two months. Most of these books I’ve either preordered, requested or already own copies of, but I’m super excited to get to all of these.

The Goodreads page for each book is linked!

1. The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

I absolutely loved both The Winner’s Curse and The Winner’s Crime and I have to get my hands on this as soon as it’s released! Like, you don’t understand how much I need to know what happens next. I’m about to implode from the need.

2. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

This is another series finale that I’m super excited for. The Raven Cycle so far has been magnificent and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

3. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

I’m pretty sure ACOMAF is on everybody’s TBR and wishlists. I thought A Court of Thorns and Roses was really great and I’m so excited that ACOMAF is inspired by the Hades and Persephone story. I’m slightly iffy about it though because Rhysand is going to get a lot more page time and I don’t know how I feel about him.

4. The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

I absolutely love Morgan Matson and everything she’s written. I’ve already heard really good things about The Unexpected Everything and I can’t wait to have it in my hands. It’s going to be fantastic!

5. The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

The Wrath and the Dawn was another 2015 release that I really enjoyed and I have really high hopes for this sequel.

6. The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

Out of all of Rick Riordan’s books, I’ve only read Percy Jackson and the Olympians but I want to eventually catch up and binge read everything else. Apollo is probably my favourite of the major gods and I’m so excited to read about him as a mortal.

7. The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan

I’ve had the first four books of the Heroes of Olympus on my shelves for a few months now but I still haven’t read them because I want to marathon the whole series. I have the US paperbacks of the books and the last book, The Blood of Olympus, doesn’t come out in paperback until early April. So I’m holding off until I have all of the books in my possession. I’ve already preordered The Blood of Olympus, so hopefully it gets here soon.

8. Dreamology by Lucy Keating

I’ve had an eARC of Dreamology sitting in my Kindle app since last year. I was planning to review it for Happy Indulgence but the awesome Aila read and wrote up a review for it in like a day. So it’s kind of continued sitting in my Kindle app… It sounds fascinating and Aila really enjoyed it, so I’m really keen to see what I think of it.

9. This is Where the World Ends by Amy Zhang

This is one of my most anticipated contemporary releases of this year and I have an ARC of this one! I cannot wait to read this and will have a review up closer to release date, which is in April.

10. Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

This sounds like a really cute contemporary and there’s been quite a bit of buzz about it around the community. But let’s be real, I’m excited about it because the author and I share the same name.


What books are you really keen to read in the next few months?!

Review: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

lady-midnight

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release date: March 8, 2016
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 720
Goodreads || Book Depository

In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.

A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other – but they can never fall in love.

Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip and faeries – the most powerful of supernatural creatures – teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge – and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks… and before the murderer targets them.

Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents – and can she bear to know the truth?

MY THOUGHTS

45 stars

Lady Midnight is the first book in Cassandra Clare’s new Shadowhunters trilogy, The Dark Artifices. Even though Lady Midnight is the first book in the trilogy, if you haven’t read The Mortal Instruments or The Infernal Devices and you plan to in the future, I’d recommend reading those first because Lady Midnight contains spoilers for those books and will ruin your reading experience if you plan to go back. (If you haven’t read The Infernal Devices, what are you doing with your life?) Lady Midnight also has spoilers for Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, which is a collection of short stories that you should read after TMI. I was waiting for the hardcover bind-up to be released at the end of this year before reading them, and I regretted that decision because my reading experience with Lady Midnight could have been enhanced if I’d read those short stories first.

Enough ramble. Lady Midnight is set 5 years after the events of The Mortal Instruments, and we get to meet Emma Carstairs as a 17 year old. Since coming back to Los Angeles from Idris after City of Heavenly Fire, she’s had the parabatai ceremony with Julian Blackthorn and has been secretly investigating the mysterious murders of her parents with little success. This book begins when a string of very similar murders occur in Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Institute is approached by the Fey to investigate. In return for identifying the murderer, the Fey promise to give Mark Blackthorn the opportunity to be returned to his family, but they must solve the mystery in 3 weeks. However, due to certain things that happened in TMI, Shadowhunters are not allowed to associate or work with faeries, so the LA Institute must investigate without the Clave (governing body of the Shadowhunters) knowing and without outside help.

I really enjoyed the plot of the story. It explored magic and dark magic, which is something that we didn’t see a lot of in the previous Shadowhunter books. We also get to learn more about the Fey and the different courts. In TMI, we mostly saw the Seelie Court and the Seelie Queen, but this book features the Unseelie Court and the Wild Hunt, which I thought was super interesting. I did find the pace of the book to be a little slow, particularly at the beginning. There wasn’t really much happening in the first 200 pages but the pace started to pick up gradually. I really enjoyed how the pieces of the puzzle came together and nothing felt rushed or sudden. It was a well thought out plot that developed nicely. Also despite this book not being particularly fast-paced or action-packed, I read it pretty quickly in 3 sittings. The plot had me immersed in the world and I was just keen to see how it would all play out.

Even though the plot was great, the characters in this book (as with most of Cassie’s other books) were the standout. I love reading about big families and the Blackthorns is definitely a big family with lots of unique and diverse characters. We have the twins, Livvy and Ty, who are almost inseparable and very protective of each other. Ty has an autism spectrum disorder, which made him a very interesting character and one that you hardly ever encounter in fantasy novels. I loved how much Cassandra Clare highlighted his little quirks and made it clear that his differences were completely okay. We also have Drusilla, who’s on the slightly chubbier side and the adorable Tavvy who’s the youngest of the family.

And then of course, we have Julian who’s spent all these years looking after his siblings and acting like the parent of the family. I really liked Julian’s character and the way that he cares for others and for Emma. He didn’t wow me or give me heart-eyes like the other male leads of Cassie Clare’s books (probably because I first met him in TMI when he was 12) but I still found his character to be wonderful. There were times when I was a little bit scared of Julian’s ability to lie and how far he would go to protect those he loves, but I can see where he’s coming from. I also really liked Emma, and I wasn’t really expecting to because I didn’t like her very much in TMI. She’s another one of Cassie’s headstrong female characters who rushes into situations without thinking. I did find it to be a little bit annoying at the beginning of the book but she quickly grew on me, and I definitely like her a lot more than I liked Clary Fray. I also really loved that she’s not new to the Shadowhunter world, like Tessa and Clary were. She grew up in a Shadowhunter family and she’s known that she’s a Shadowhunter her whole life, which allowed us to jump right into the story without having to go through the torturous “oh no, I can’t be a Shadowhunter” thing.

My favourite character in the book, though, was Mark Blackthorn. He was just such an interesting and complex character. He’s half-Shadowhunter and half-faerie and I really liked how we got to see both sides of him. I loved seeing how his time with the Wild Hunt had changed him and how he doesn’t really know how to interact with others in the real world anymore. I’m really glad that we got to see so much of him in the book. I wasn’t really expecting him to play such a large role in it and was really happy that we got to see him interact with his family. The other character who I really enjoyed was Cristina. She was fierce and fantastic but also very gentle and warm. I loved her back story and I wish we got to see a little bit more of her in this book. I can’t wait to read more of her story in the sequel though!

Now on to the romance, which was a surprisingly small aspect of the book considering how much hype there was about the forbidden parabatai romance. I thought it was handled well for most of the book, until we reached the end. The ending felt a little bit tropey and dramatic, and I can already tell that I’ll probably dislike how the romance is going to play out in the next book. It also ended on an unbearable cliffhanger and I need to know what happens next! There was much more focus on the parabatai bond than the actual romance and I really, really appreciated that. However, pretty much every mention of parabatai made me cry because I kept thinking about Will and Jem’s bond in TID. I loved how much we explored the bond between parabatai and why certain rules exist. It was really interesting and I’m curious to see how Emma and Julian can find a way around it because I don’t really see any loopholes.

Overall, I was really impressed with Lady Midnight. It wasn’t as good as the Infernal Devices books but I liked it more than most of the Mortal Instruments instalments. It was a really great focus on family and friendship and I loved how the book wasn’t romance-heavy, which I expected it to be. The plot was great and I have zero idea about what’s going to happen next. I hope we don’t have to wait long for the sequel!

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters Everyone Loves But I Just Don’t Get

ten-loved-characters-who-i-dont-get

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the team at The Broke and the Bookish. Today I’ll be featuring some well-loved characters that I just don’t really like, or don’t understand the obsession with. I’m sorry if any of my responses offend anyone. Just know that I’m not judging anybody for their love of a character.

1. The Darkling (The Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo)

I don’t fully understand everyone’s obsession with the Darkling. I mean, I was intrigued by him in Shadow and Bone and was really excited to read more about him, but his character went downhill after that first book. There was hardly any character development and he went from being an interesting character to just being super evil and creepy. For me, his character was just a wasted opportunity.

2. Chaol Westfall (Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas)

I really like Chaol as a character but I was never Team Chaol. In Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight, I was Team Dorian and now I’m firmly in Team Rowan. I like Chaol’s personality and what he stands for but I don’t really understand why everybody is in love with him. But that’s the thing with ships I guess… we can’t always agree.

3. Jacob Black (Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer)

I feel like this is one that a lot of readers will understand. What was even the point of Jacob Black in that whole series? His character was so unnecessary (New Moon as a book was basically unnecessary) and it would have been a much more enjoyable series if he wasn’t in it.

4. Ron Weasley (Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling)

I’ve never really liked Ron… He’s kind of annoying and wimpy . He’s funny, I’ll give him that, but I would’ve enjoyed the series just as much if Ron wasn’t in it.

5. Mather Loren (Snow Like Ashes trilogy by Sara Raasch)

I’ve been Team Theron since the beginning of this trilogy, but even when Theron’s character went downhill, I wasn’t a big fan of Mather. I don’t really understand how people switched ships. I can understand people jumping off the Theron love boat but just because you no longer like one love interest as much, doesn’t mean that you need to fall in love with the other. It’s not a mutually exclusive thing for me. I dunno… someone please tell me what’s so great about Mather!

6. Charlotte Holmes (A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro)

A Study in Charlotte was a book that I was completely underwhelmed by and it was mostly due to the characters. Charlotte Holmes in this book is a carbon copy of Sherlock Holmes from the BBC tv show. There’s nothing original about her and she’s probably 3000x more annoying that a character should be. I was just completely unimpressed by her.

7. Safiya fon Hasstrel (Truthwitch by Susan Dennard)

This is one that I can kind of understand. I thought Safi was a really strong character but she was so super annoying for most of the book! I didn’t completely understand what was so special about her and she just came across as another badass female heroine.

8. Tarver Merendsen (These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner)

I just wasn’t a big fan of this book overall. I didn’t like either of the main characters and because the character development and romance was such a big part of the book, I ended up not really connecting with it. Tarver was a pretty boring character in my opinion. He was resourceful and strong but that’s all there was to him. I don’t really see what people are going on about when it comes to this book and the romance.

9. Adam Parrish (The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater)

I feel like there are so many people who are in love with Adam from The Raven Cycle and I don’t really see it. He was super annoying in The Raven Boys, and while his character does get a little bit better as the series goes on, I’m still not the biggest fan of him. I don’t really understand his actions or his thought processes and he kind of makes me uncomfortable…

10. Rhysand (A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas)

Okay, this is one that I’m still on the fence about. I can kind of see why people are interested in him and I can also see myself growing to like him as we get to see more of him… but based on his actions and what we did see of him in ACOTAR, I don’t really agree with everybody’s obsession with him. He’s a bit of a dick, if I’m honest.


Let me know if you agree with any of these!

Review: Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

amy-and-rogers-epic-detour

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release date: May 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 344
Goodreads || Book Depository

Amy Curry is having a terrible year. Her mother has decided to move across the country and needs Amy to get their car from California to Connecticut. There’s just one small problem. Since her dad died this past spring, Amy hasn’t been able to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger, the nineteen-year-old son of an old family friend, who turns out to be unexpectedly cute… and dealing with some baggage of his own.

Meeting new people and coming to terms with her father’s death were not what Amy had planned on this trip. And traveling the Loneliest Road in America, seeing the Colorado mountains, crossing the Kansas plains, and visiting diners, dingy motels, and Graceland were definitely not on the itinerary. But as they drive, Amy finds that the people you least expected are the ones you may need the most – and that sometimes you have to get lost in order to find your way home.

MY THOUGHTS

45 stars

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour was Morgan Matson’s first novel (the first one that she published as Morgan Matson anyway) and I really, really enjoyed it. It’s my least favourite of her books, but I gave both Second Chance Summer and Since You’ve Been Gone 5 stars and they’re pretty hard to top.

This book follows Amy who lost her father in a car accident. As a result, her family is in a bit of a transition phase as they try to adjust to being a family of 3 rather than a family of 4. Amy’s mother has moved to Connecticut for work and is in desperate need of her car. She assigns Amy the task of driving the car across the country but Amy has sworn off driving since the accident that killed her father. Roger, the son of a family friend, needs to get to Philadelphia and is asked to drive Amy and the car to Connecticut. However, neither of them are very fond of the route and itinerary that Amy’s mother has mapped out for them and they decide to go on an epic detour on their cross-country trip.

And the detour was truly epic. The characters visited so many different and interesting places along the way. What I really loved about their journey was that it was completely impromptu and they went to places that they felt like they needed to go to in order to resolve certain issues that they had in their lives. I really enjoyed every single location that was featured and the descriptions were so vivid that I felt like I was in the car with Amy and Roger the whole way. It was really interesting to see how the states differed from each other and how distinct even neighbouring states could be. The book  was not only fun but a really great learning experience for me. I learnt so many little facts about each place and the kinds of foods that each state was famous for. I discovered landmarks that I had never heard of before, such as the Loneliest Road in America, which is so long and lonely that you could easily run out of gas before reaching the next gas station. It was also really interesting to see how the states differed from each other and how distinct even neighbouring states could be.

The format of the book also really helped make the long journey interesting. Amy keeps a travel journal and the book included lots of notes about each state, as well as playlists for their trip. These little notes kept the book interesting, especially in the first half of the book where there was lots of driving and not much else happening. The book also contained receipts and photos of some of the things that were mentioned and I loved being able to see exactly what was being described. The formatting just really allowed us to be immersed in the story, as well as to get a really good sense of who the characters were. It brought the story to life for me.

I absolutely loved both Amy and Roger as our main characters. I thought they were completely relatable and I really connected with all of their struggles. I loved the way that Amy’s grief was explored and how the loss of her father has left her shut off from the rest of the world. I also connected with Roger’s desperation and persistence in understanding what went wrong in his previous relationship and trying to fix things. The development that both of these characters went through was definitely the most noteworthy aspect of the book. They’re both a little bit closed off and enigmatic in the first half of the book, but we slowly see them opening up and breaking free of all the things that held them back. The pace of the development felt very natural and I loved how the little things they encountered on their journey played a part in their development.

What I loved most about Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour is that it’s not just a coming of age story for Amy. The road trip and journey of self-development that they take is just as much for Roger as it is for Amy. Roger’s not just the love interest who tags along and serves as eye candy; we get to see his development and explore his story just as much as Amy’s. I loved how the two of them supported each other and encouraged each other to resolve their respective problems. And, of course, I absolutely loved their friendship and their subsequent romance. I thought the romance developed very naturally and realistically. It wasn’t rushed and it just worked. I would’ve liked to have seen just a little bit more of them together at the end, to satisfy the romantic in me, but I’m incredibly happy with how their relationship played out and the decisions they made.

The relatability of the characters and the character development is the main reason why I love Morgan Matson’s books so much. Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour certainly didn’t disappoint on this front. It had a wonderful emotional journey of self-discovery as well as a physical journey that will inspire wanderlust in anybody who reads the book.