Book Haul: February 2016

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Oh man, I failed again this month. I was on a book buying ban last month, which went quite well, but it’s not really a system that’s going to work long term. I also don’t really like the idea of read 5, buy 1… because I can totally see myself cheating. I decided that I would be happy if I acquired fewer books than I read each month, because it would mean that my TBR is consistently shrinking. And I’m ashamed to report that I’ve failed this month already. I read 15 books in February (check out my wrap up here) and acquired 23. I’M SORRY!

BOOK DEPOSITORY

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After reading Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson last month, I wanted to catch up on all of Morgan Matson’s releases, so I ordered Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour and two of her Katie Finn books. I’ve already read Amy & Roger and I can’t wait to dive into the Broken Hearts and Revenge books! The rest of the books were highly anticipated releases of mine and I preordered them all a few months back. I’m usually pretty good at reading preorders as soon as they come in, but I had quite a few review books to read, which stopped me from reading my preorders. I’ve already read Stars Above but hopefully I can get to The Girl From Everywhere and A Gathering of Shadows soon too.

KINOKUNIYA

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One of my worst habits is walking around Kinokuniya aimlessly because I always end up leaving with something I didn’t intend to buy. And that’s exactly how I managed to buy these five books. I saw this really beautiful edition of Looking for Alibrandi and just had to have it. I happened to go to a book launch where Melina was present, and got my copy signed 😀 . I also ended up coming home with The Blackthorn Key which is Joey‘s favourite book… and I had to see what it was about. And finally, after hearing people rave about Captive Prince for the past couple of weeks, I had to pick up the trilogy. I was lucky enough to get signed copies of all three.

DYMOCKS

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I bought Hate is Such a Strong Word because I was super excited to be going to the book launch of Sarah Ayoub’s new release and thought I should probably read her debut novel first. I didn’t end up finishing it in time for the event but will definitely be picking it back up soon! YOLO Juliet caught my eye during that shopping trip and I just had to buy it because the cover was so funny! And I bought Ink and Bone due to Jeann and Aila’s glowing recommendations!!

RECEIVED

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And now to the books that I received from others this month. Jeann sent me When We Collided and Beautiful Broken Things to review on Happy Indulgence. I’ve already read When We Collided and I can’t wait to jump into Beautiful Broken Things too! I’ll also be reviewing The Sidekicks on Happy Indulgence next week, thanks to Penguin Teen Australia. I’m currently reading it so stay tuned for my review. I received How Not to Disappear from Simon & Schuster, and This is Where the World Ends and The Yearbook Committee from HarperCollins. I attended the launch of The Yearbook Committee last week and got to meet Sarah Ayoub and have my copy signed! I’m a gold member at Dymocks and was given the opportunity to receive a copy of Anna and the Swallow Man in exchange for writing an honest review on their website. Thank you to Dymocks and Penguin Random House for that! And lastly, I received Bullet Catcher unsolicited from Allen & Unwin. It’s a western, which isn’t really my thing but I might give it a go someday because it’s got great ratings so far.

EBOOKS

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iBooks had a Valentine’s Day sale on contemporary romances and I picked up Sweet Filthy Boy for $1.99. I’ve been hearing a lot about it lately and I hadn’t read any NA for a while so I decided to just go ahead and buy it.


I’ll do better in March. I have some preorders coming in though, so no promises 😀

Review: The Yearbook Committee by Sarah Ayoub

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Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
Release date: February 22, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 320
Goodreads || Book Depository || Booktopia

Five teenagers. Five lives. One final year.

The school captain: Ryan has it all … or at least he did, until an accident snatched his dreams away. How will he rebuild his life and what does the future hold for him now?

The newcomer: Charlie’s just moved interstate and she’s determined not to fit in. She’s just biding her time until Year 12 is over and she can head back to her real life and her real friends …

The loner: At school, nobody really notices Matty. But at home, Matty is everything. He’s been single-handedly holding things together since his mum’s breakdown, and he’s never felt so alone.

The popular girl: Well, the popular girl’s best friend … cool by association. Tammi’s always bowed to peer pressure, but when the expectations become too much to handle, will she finally stand up for herself?

The politician’s daughter: Gillian’s dad is one of the most recognisable people in the state and she’s learning the hard way that life in the spotlight comes at a very heavy price.

Five unlikely teammates thrust together against their will. Can they find a way to make their final year a memorable one or will their differences tear their world apart?

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Yearbook Committee is the new release of Aussie author, Sarah Ayoub. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the launch party in Sydney and have Sarah sign my copy of the book! The Yearbook Committee is a wonderful depiction of high school life in the inner west of Sydney. It’s written from the perspectives of five very different students who all attend an elite private school, and are thrown together to create the 2016 yearbook. Working together forces them to learn new things about themselves and the world, and create new bonds that will last forever.

This is very much a character-driven novel. I loved our core cast of characters and I thoroughly enjoyed following them on their journeys of self-development. We have Charlie, the smart and outspoken feminist of the group, who is determined to hate Sydney after being forced to move from Melbourne with her mum and stepdad. She quickly finds herself clashing with Ryan, the school captain, who is struggling to find himself after an accident causes him to lose the thing that defined him and his future. Also part of the yearbook committee is Tammi, the popular girl’s best friend, who doesn’t have any control over her own life. She’s pushed around by her best friend, her boyfriend and her father, and isn’t allowed to be who she wants to be. We also have the politician’s daughter, Gillian, who struggles with the spotlight that’s always on her and her family. She is constantly criticised and bullied because of her public presence. And finally, there’s Matty, the scholarship kid who doesn’t really fit in with the rich kids who attend the school. He works multiple jobs while he waits for his mother to snap out of her breakdown. But it’s been months and she doesn’t seem to be getting better…

Despite there being five different perspectives, I enjoyed all of them and how different each character was. Their personalities definitely come through in the writing and their voices. Their voices were distinct and it never felt like they were the same person. I also liked the multiple perspectives because I thought it was extremely interesting to see what they thought of each other, and how it differed to how I viewed them, especially at the beginning. I also appreciated that the book was never repetitive, despite having so many perspectives. It wasn’t the same story written from the points of view of five different people; it was five different stories that converged into one.

On either side of me, Gillian and Matty reach out and grab a hand each, like guardian angels. And the tears give way to a smile, because I finally feel my worth for the first time in ages.

I loved the friendships that formed in the book. The five committee members start off as strangers and I loved being about to see them forming bonds and opening up to each other, especially because some of the characters didn’t really have any friends prior to being on the committee. I loved how much the characters were able to learn from each other and that they were able to use these new experiences to further develop their own identity. There were some time skips in the book, which at times made it difficult to see the full development of the friendships, but it never felt like things were happening too quickly or suddenly. I thought the author used the formatting of the book superbly to fill in the gaps. There were detailed notes about each committee meeting that helped fill the holes in our knowledge and I really liked those pages.

Who knew that after all those meetings, the five of us would not only accomplish what we set out to do but become better people just by knowing and learning from each other?

Besides the characters coming together as a result of working on the yearbook, there is actually very little focus on the yearbook itself. We don’t really see the characters work on it very much, which I actually preferred because the characters’ personal stories and journeys were so captivating. I enjoyed everything that I read. Everything felt realistic and the depiction of high school life was so accurate that I couldn’t help but connect with everyone’s stories. There were a couple of things that I wish had been resolved a little bit more. I kind of felt like I was left hanging about a couple of things that happened at the end of the book, but I didn’t mind the open endings that much because life goes on.

This is a wonderful Australian YA novel that I can confidently recommend to everybody. It’s completely relatable and has a cast of fantastic characters that will capture your heart from the very beginning.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books To Read If You’re in the Mood For A Realistic Romance

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, we create a list of ten (or however many books) based on a theme. This week’s topic is Books to Read If You’re In the Mood for X, and I’ve chosen to feature books with realistic romances. What I mean by a realistic romance is one that isn’t all-consuming and nonsensical. It starts and develops in a manner that is logical and realistic, and it takes a backseat to issues that are more important.

1. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

I absolutely love the romance between Samantha and Jase in this book. And that’s mostly because Jase is such a nice guy. He definitely has a lot of issues to deal with but he’s never broody and assholish. He really cares for/about and supports Samantha fully, and I loved the two of them together so much!

2. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

What I enjoyed about the romance in this book was that it wasn’t at the forefront. It didn’t overshadow all of the other issues in the book and it wasn’t the only relationship that was explored. So often in YA, it feels like the romance is the only relationship that matters or exists, but in this book, we see friendships and familial relationships too. I thought the romance developed very naturally and realistic decisions were made throughout the book.

3. The Stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard

While there was a bit of insta-love in this book, I enjoyed how the romance progressed. There wasn’t any dancing around each other and things just happened super naturally. I enjoyed how much Alice and Manny cared about each other and how they were there for each other during even the tough times. What I enjoyed most was that the book still left room for other relationships, particularly the beautiful relationship between Alice and her brother, Joey.

4. Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Amy and Roger’s relationship probably isn’t the most realistic that I’ve read, but I really liked that they started off as strangers who became friends and then something more. There was less romance than I thought there was going to be and I found that to be really refreshing. The book also ended in a really realistic way, for me.

5. The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

I absolutely loved Cluck and Lace’s romance in this book. It’s a hate to love kind of romance but I highly enjoyed it because it didn’t feel dramatic and forced. The decisions that were made in this book were sensible and I loved how they supported each other when nobody else was on their side.

6. The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

Blue and Gansey *deep sigh*. Another hate to love romance. I went into this series expecting lots and lots of Blansey from the very beginning since the first book mentions Blue killing her true love, who is Gansey (not a spoiler cos it’s revealed in like the first chapter). But it ended up very differently and I really enjoyed how it’s been playing out. It’s definitely very slow burn but it’s development is so natural that I can’t help but love it.

7. Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

The romance in this book is a little bit instant because Emmy and Oliver were kind of an item before Oliver moved away, but I can’t deny that the romance in this book is stellar! It’s a very supportive relationship and they both take it very seriously.

8. Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo

The attraction and romance in this book is probably one of the most realistic that I’ve ever read. This book really captures the feeling of unrequited love and what it’s like to have a large age difference (large for a high school girl). I loved how everything was handled in this book and how the romance wasn’t forced. I liked the decisions that were made and thought the book ended in the perfect way!

9. Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

The relationship between Sydney and Mac in this book was beautiful. It didn’t overshadow the themes of family, which I really appreciated. I liked how they leaned on each other during the tough times. I probably could have used a little bit more romance, but I appreciated how well Sarah Dessen explored the really important issues in the book.

10. What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler

All the right decisions were made in this book. I really enjoyed the relationship between Kate and Ben in this book, but when Kate begins to wonder where Ben was when a terrible crime was being committed, things start to fall apart. I loved the decisions that Kate made in this book and how she chose to protect herself.


What are some of your favourite romances and do you think they’re realistic? The majority of my list are contemporary romances. What are some of your favourite realistic fantasy romances?