Wrap Up: April 2016

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I read 13 books this month, which is a little less than what I usually read each month but I’ve been really overwhelmed by work and the PhD life recently so I don’t feel too bad. I’m still way ahead with my Goodreads goal (currently 29 books ahead) so that’s all that matters right now.

April16

Reading summary header

1. Dreamology – Lucy Keating  4 stars

This was a really interesting and cute read about two people who have dreamed about each other and had multiple interesting experiences together in their dreams. However, they meet in person one day and have to figure out why they’ve been dreaming about each other for years. I liked the majority of this book but thought some of the dream aspects were a little bit unresolved. Things just worked themselves out without explanation and I didn’t like that at all.

2. A Hollywood Deal – Nadia Lee  2 stars

I don’t read adult romance novels a lot because I find that they all sound the same. But I’ve read some of Nadia Lee’s novels in the past and they’ve been pretty entertaining. When I heard that she had a new release, I bought the ebook straight away. However, it was super underwhelming. On top of that, it was like part 1 of the story and ended on a cliffhanger to be continued in the next book, which is something that I don’t think any of her other books have been like.

3. The Winner’s Kiss – Marie Rutkoski  45 stars

This was one of my most highly anticipated series finales of this year. The Winner’s Crime was such an amazing second book that I had really really high expectations for The Winner’s Kiss. It wasn’t as epic and intense as I wanted it to be so I felt a little bit disappointed with it. But I still really enjoyed it and thought it was a great end to the series.

4. The Book of Broken Hearts – Sarah Ockler  45 stars

The Book of Broken Hearts is about Jude who comes from a Hispanic family. Her father has early onset Alzheimer’s and Jude thinks that the only way to cure him is to restore his motorcycle, which holds a lot of precious memories. However, the only person who can fix this bike is a sworn enemy of her family’s…I can confidently add this book to my list of favourite summer contemporaries. It had wonderful characters and was a really great book about family, romance and resilience.

5. The Forbidden Wish – Jessica Khoury  3 stars

I’ve heard so many great things about this Aladdin retelling and had really high expectations. But this book fell flat in so many different ways for me. I absolutely hated the romance and thought that it didn’t work at all. The plot for me was okay but there were so many things that were just really convenient or ridiculous. I just wasn’t a fan of this one.

6. Exquisite Captive – Heather Demetrios  45 stars

This was a really great book about jinn that I flew through in less than a day. I adored the complex characters in this one and thought the urban fantasy setting was really unique. It was just a super addictive story and I loved the plot so much. It was definitely a much better novel for me than The Forbidden Wish.

7. The Haters – Jesse Andrews  2 stars

This is the second Jesse Andrews book that I’ve read and haven’t enjoyed. I hated Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and this one wasn’t much better. I didn’t really connect with the humour of the book and since the whole book was carried by the humour, I had a hard time getting through it.

8. The Passion of Dolssa – Julie Berry  4 stars

I love historical fiction and when I found out that this one is set in the 13th century, I had to check it out. Religion plays a huge part in this book and initially I had some trouble getting into it because of the themes. The writing style was also really difficult to get into but once I’d gotten past the first 50 pages, I was hooked. The characters were fantastic and easy to love and I absolutely loved the plot.

9. Love, Lies and Spies – Cindy Anstey  3 stars

The synopsis of this book promises a Jane Austen-inspired 19th century story about a young lady who would rather be a scientist than get married and a man who is a spy. However, I felt like this blurb was a bit deceiving because there was almost no science in this book and not as much spying as I would have liked. It was mostly about the romance, which was pleasant to read about, but I was completely underwhelmed because I was expecting so much more from the characters and the plot.

10. Bittersweet – Sarah Ockler  4 stars

This book is about Hudson, a girl who’s a talented figure skater but whose life fell apart when her dad left. Now she’s stuck in her small town, making cupcakes and waitressing at the diner that her mother owns. She’s given the opportunity to get back into figure skating and her life slowly starts to change. I didn’t always enjoy Hudson in this book but I loved her coming of age story and how she developed throughout the book. It had a lovely wintery setting that I love to read about in books (but hate to experience).

11. Hate is Such a Strong Word – Sarah Ayoub  4 stars

This book is one that every Australian teen should put on their radar. It has such a strong message about culture, ethnicity and racism. In this novel, the main character, Sophie, lives in a tightknit Lebanese community in Sydney. She attends a Catholic school where everybody is Lebanese and everybody’s family knows each other. She feels completely stifled by the old-fashioned rules and traditions that her family imposes upon her and is struggling to be heard. I absolutely loved Sophie’s character and how she transformed and blossomed throughout the book. It was a highly enjoyable read.

12. The Rose and the Dagger – Renee Ahdieh  45 stars

I’ve been looking forward to this sequel to The Wrath and the Dawn ever since I finished the first book and it didn’t disappoint. I went into it without any expectations as to what would happen next and was really delighted by what I read. I thought the characterisation was really strong and, although the plot wasn’t as intense as I would have liked it to be, I really enjoyed everything… and even shed a couple of tears. I’ll have a full review up for this sequel in a couple of days!

13. Honor Girl – Maggie Thrash  4 stars

This is a graphic memoir about Maggie Thrash’s teenage years and her first crush on a girl. It was a really lovely and honest story that I felt really connected to. The artwork was great and I could reread this one over and over. I’ll have a full review up on Happy Indulgence next week.

REREADS

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell  5 stars

I could never get sick of rereading this book. It was just as relatable and adorable this second time around and I love Rainbow Rowell so much! I can’t wait to read her next release (or you know… finally read Eleanor and Park).

DNFed

Dreaming the Enemy – David Metzenthen

I just couldn’t get through more than 50 pages of this book. This is a historical fiction novel about the Vietnam War, which is something that I’m interested in but don’t know a whole lot about. Unfortunately I couldn’t get past the writing style and confusing plot. I had no idea what was happening and it was too much of a struggle to keep going.

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I posted four Top Ten Tuesdays this month:


How many books did you read in April and which was your favourite of the month?

Review: The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry

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Publisher: HarperCollins
Release date: March 21, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 336
Goodreads || Book Depository

Dolssa is a young gentlewoman with uncanny gifts, on the run from an obsessed friar determined to burn her as a heretic for the passion she refuses to tame.

Botille is a wily and charismatic peasant, a matchmaker running a tavern with her two sisters in a tiny seaside town.

The year is 1241; the place, Provensa, which we now call Provence, is a land still reeling from the bloody crusades waged there by the Catholic Church and its northern French armies.

When the matchmaker finds the mystic near death by a riverside, Botille takes Dolssa in and discovers the girl’s extraordinary healing power. But as the vengeful Friar Lucien hunts down his heretic, the two girls find themselves putting an entire village at the mercy of murderers.

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

Thank you to HarperCollins Australia for providing a review copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I didn’t know much about this book going into it, even though I’ve been highly anticipating it since I heard about it at the HarperCollins BTCYA event in November last year. And I definitely was not disappointed. I did have a really hard time with the first 50 pages of the book. The writing was very hard to get into and I wanted to DNF the book so many times. But I pushed through and it just kept getting better and better.

Despite the title of the book, The Passion of Dolssa is not really about Dolssa. It’s definitely a book about Botille and how her life is impacted by the presence of and her friendship with Dolssa. Botille is a girl who lives a pretty ordinary life in a small seaside town. But one day, she finds a malnourished Dolssa who is on the run for being a heretic and her life changes dramatically. Now, her life revolves around Dolssa and keeping her a secret from the village and from those who seek her, and that’s definitely easier said than done…

I absolutely loved Botille in this book and wasn’t too sad that there wasn’t more of Dolssa. Botille was strong, passionate and stood up for the things that she believed in, no matter the consequences. She was a fantastic character who was easy to love and empathise with and I was just so invested in her story. And this was the case with many of the other characters too. Initially, I had lots of doubts about the book but as I read more and more of it, I realised how connected to all of the characters I felt and I wasn’t able to put down the book because I needed to know what was going to happen to them next. The Passion of Dolssa is definitely a very character-driven story and I thought all of the characters were amazingly developed and written. I enjoyed all of the relationships between the characters and how they looked out for and supported each other. I also really enjoyed the little bits of romance that we got in the book and they were definitely some of my favourite moments in the book.

This book focuses on religion, which is something that I almost never read about. I’m not a religious person and I don’t read very many books about religion because I find it difficult to connect with and comprehend the ideas. But I felt like this book had just the right amount of religion and was done in a way that wasn’t preachy and was easy for me to understand and connect with. And because it’s based on real events in history, it made it even more interesting and relevant to me. I really enjoyed that the book showed the positives and negatives to religion – how religion can save people but also how those who are religious can abuse their power and use it to oppress others. It was an eye-opening read, especially because it’s not something that I’ve ever thought about in much detail.

What I had a little bit of a problem with was the writing, especially at the beginning of the book. It took me a good 50 pages to really get into it, and it’s definitely a style that you need to get used to. There are a lot of different perspectives and the chapters are quite short, so I felt like I was being pulled all over the place at the beginning. However, once I started getting into the story and the plot, this became less of an issue. The writing also switches constantly between first and third person narration, which was very confusing at first because it seemed like there was no pattern to it, but I quickly realised that Botille and Dolssa’s chapters were written in first person, while the other perspectives were in third person narration. The writing style and format of the book just takes a little bit of getting used to, so I’d recommend just pushing through if you’re thinking of DNFing the book.

The Passion of Dolssa was quite heavy and sad but I think it’s definitely worth the read. It’s a very interesting glimpse at a part of history that isn’t explored very much (or at least I haven’t read very much about it). It’s impossible not to fall in love with the characters in this book and become invested in their story.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Bookish Delights

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the team at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme are bookish delights, or bookish things that make me really really happy, and I’m sure everyone can relate to. The first five are related to covers and book designs, and the last five are related to the reading/shopping experience.

1. When title names in a series match

Think Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices series. I love how the title names all match. Or Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s trilogy. Or J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. How beautiful are the titles of those series?

2. Embossed or debossed covers

I love it when covers have lots of texture because I love feeling up my books. It’s kind of boring when book covers are just glossy and have nothing to touch. I really liked Passenger‘s cover and how the title was embossed. And I also like the debossed bits on the cover of I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson.

3. Matte, buttery-feeling covers

These are probably my favourite kinds of covers. I love just stroking them and they feel so good!!

4. Gold sprayed pages

I have the Barnes and Noble bind up of The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and it’s got the prettiest gold sprayed pages and a gold built-in bookmark to match. I looks so luxurious and beautiful. I also really love the black pages that Six of Crows has.

5. Cool designs on the naked cover/under the jacket

Don’t you just love it when you undress a hardcover book and it’s just beautiful underneath the jacket? I love the pretty silver tree that’s on the Passenger naked hardcover, and the awesome drawing that’s on the Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda naked cover. Also, can we talk about the naked cover of the UK edition of Carry On?!  I also really love when the jackets themselves have a beautiful design on the inside of the jacket, like Since You’ve Been Gone. And I’ve been led to believe that Morgan Matson’s new release The Unexpected Everything also has a beautiful picture on the inside of the jacket.

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6. Reading a book in one sitting

I’m a pretty fast reader but the feeling of being so immersed in a book that you finish it in just one sitting amazes me every single time it happens.

7. Getting to the last 100 pages of a book

I love the last 100 pages of a book. It means that I’m really close to the end and I usually don’t stop reading until I get to the end, no matter how late at night it is. The last 100 page is usually when things start getting really good and ugh I just love it!

8. Discovering indie bookstores in different cities

When I’m in Sydney, I always go to the same bookstores. But when I’m in a different city where I don’t have a routine and regular stores that I’m attached to and go to frequently, I really get the chance to explore and check out indie bookstores.

9. The sound of a new package being ripped open

I don’t think this one needs to be explained…

10. When other people read and love your favourite book

all-the-light-we-cannot-see All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Read it. Please and thank you.

You’re welcome.

Review: The Haters by Jesse Andrews

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Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Release date: April 5, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 325
RRP: $19.99 AUD
Goodreads || Book Depository

Wes and Corey are convinced nothing cool can come of their lame summer at jazz camp, when along comes Ash – all blonde hair and brash words – and cracks their world wide open. Finally, something they can’t seem to hate. When Ash convinces them that a great musician is made on the road, the three friends flee camp and begin an epic, hilarious road trip: The Haters 2016 Summer of Hate Tour.

Amid sneaking into seedy bars, evading their parents and the police, and spending every minute together in a makeshift tour bus, romance blossoms and bursts, and hygiene takes a back seat. Wes begins to realise the limitations of hating everything: it keeps you at a convenient distance from something, or someone, you just might love.

When you can find something to hate about every band, how do you make a sound you love?

MY THOUGHTS

2 stars

Thank you to Allen & Unwin for sending me a copy of The Haters. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I think a certain population of people will really love The Haters. I just didn’t happen to fall into that group. I couldn’t really connect with the characters or the humour in the book, and it all became a little bit flat and boring. Having said that, I absolutely hated Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and The Haters was a much better reading experience for me.

This book is about Wes, Corey and Ash who meet at a two-week jazz camp. None of them are actually into jazz and find the camp environment to be a bit stifling. Ash decides that the only way that they can be real musicians and play the music that they want to play is to go on a tour around the country. They have absolutely no plan and are absolutely terrible together as a band. Together, they travel around the country looking for new experiences and opportunities to show off their music. Now, this sounded like an amazing idea for a road trip book. It had the potential to be crazy, funny and exciting, but I found it to be kind of plotless. Almost nothing happens in this book! There’s lots of descriptions of travelling and of music but they hardly played any music at all. I felt like it was just pages and pages of dropping names of bands and talking about how great they were together and not actually that much music playing. I was baffled by the lack of practice and rehearsal. I mean, sure, let’s just go on tour and not practise together at all.

What we did get in this book were pages and pages of descriptions and jokes. Everything was described with unnecessary detail, including a pretty disturbing description of ‘dick harming’. I just felt like the book dragged on forever and at the end of it, I was left with nothing but a deep knowledge of how bad their car smelt and the names of a million bands that I’ve never heard of before. I didn’t understand a lot of the music references, and I’m sure that people who actually know about the things that are mentioned will love the book. But it just wasn’t for me and it came across as pretentious. I also couldn’t really connect with the humour and didn’t find the book to be that funny. People who are able to connect with the humour will absolutely love this novel because the jokes just run on for pages and pages. For those who don’t, there’s just not much to latch on to and it can be a pretty long journey to the end of the book… Having said that, I did find some parts to be funny but those were few and far between. There were lots and lots of dick jokes that I honestly just don’t find amusing at all.

The characters in this book reminded me a lot of the trio in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, with the two male best friends and the addition of a female friend. I did enjoy Wes, our main character, for the most part. Apart from all the dick jokes and him just acting like a ‘dude’, he wasn’t a bad character to read from. I enjoyed all of his insecurities and how he kept the group together, but he also frustrated me at times with some of his actions. The character that I had a huge problem with was Ash. She came across as extremely selfish and inconsiderate, and there wasn’t a single point in the book where I thought she had Wes and Corey’s best interests at heart.

The Haters was quite an easy book to read and was relatively fast-paced, apart from the long jokes and descriptions that I couldn’t care less about. I thought the formatting of the book was a bit odd though. The book switches constantly between normal prose and a script format. I didn’t really understand why the author chose to do this. It came across to me as lazy writing – like the author couldn’t be bothered to write proper sentences with proper punctuation anymore, and decided to just have dialogue in the format of a script. I understood the use of the script in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl since that book was about film-making, but there was really no reason to do it in this novel at all.

Overall, I wasn’t overly impressed with The Haters. It was definitely a step up from Me and Earl and the Dying Girl for me, but there were too many elements that I either didn’t understand or didn’t like to convince me to pick up anything else by Jesse Andrews in the future.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books That Made Me Chuckle

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today, I’m sharing ten books that made me laugh. I don’t really read a lot of funny books but here are ten that are on my shelves.

1. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Carry On was one of my favourite books of last year and it was because it was so incredibly funny! The characters and their relationships were wonderful but the humour was also a massive standout for me. It was just a really enjoyable and lighthearted read.

2. Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

This is a book about anxiety and depression but, like most of Sophie Kinsella’s other books, it was full of funny moments. If you see this novel at the bookstore, I highly recommend just reading the first scene. It was absolutely hilarious!

3. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

If you love Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory and all of his hilarious awkwardness, you will love Don in The Rosie Project. They have the same social awkwardness and it was just so funny to watch him navigate his first experience of falling in love.

4. The Colours of Madeleine trilogy by Jaclyn Moriarty

This isn’t supposed to be a funny trilogy but it’s set in the most magical and whimsical world that was full of quirks, and a joy to read.

5. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

This series is adventurous and thrilling but it also has a whole load of funny moments. Percy’s voice is just so great to read from and I laughed out loud at some many things that he said and thought.

6. The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak by Brian Katcher

This book is set during one afternoon and night at a sci-fi convention. It’s full of crazy antics and was just so funny to read. I loved everything that happened and all of the outlandish moments.

7. Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin

Despite the ominous sounding title, this book was surprisingly funny. In this world, everybody knows their deathdate and there are all these crazy preparations and events that happen before the deathdate. It was all super crazy but really entertaining to read about.

8. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

This is another book that isn’t intended to be funny but it features a big, crazy family with lots of young children. I chuckled so many times as I read this book and it’s impossible to fall in love with baby Patsy and the insanely paranoid 4 year old, George.

9. YOLO Juliet by Brett Wright

This is Romeo and Juliet written in the form of text messages. I have to admit that not everything worked – there were just some bits that were kinda boring, and some things that just didn’t make sense as a text message – but there were lots of really funny messages and I really enjoyed the reading experience.

10. THE HATERS by Jesse Andrews

This is the novel that I’m currently reading. I wasn’t a fan of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and I think you just have to be a certain kind of person to connect with Jesse Andrews’ books and humour. But there were some bits in this book that I found to be funny and laughed at.


What are some of your favourite funny books?

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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Publisher: St Martin’s Griffin
Release date: September 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 433
Goodreads || Book Depository

CATH IS A SIMON SNOW FAN. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan… But for Cath, being a fan is her life–and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fanfiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath that she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend; a fiction-writing professor who thinks fanfiction is the end of the civilized world; a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words…and she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

MY THOUGHTS

5 stars

This review is based on a reread of the book.

Fangirl is a book that I’ve wanted to reread for a very long time, because I enjoyed it so much the first time I read it. And it was just as good the second time around. This book is so relatable and I think all readers will be able to find something to connect with, whether it’s being part of a fandom, starting college for the first time or having a slightly dysfunctional family.

I really enjoyed the plot of this book and thought it had a really good balance of romance, family and fandom goodness. Both times I’ve read this book, I was completely immersed in Cath’s story and everything that was happening. There’s something that’s just really addictive about this book. Because I saw so many similarities between Cath and myself, I was really rooting for her and wanted to see what was going to happen next. It was definitely a hard book to put down. I read Fangirl in one sitting the first time, and two sittings the second time. I also really liked the pacing of the book. It progressed at the perfect speed for me – nothing felt rushed but the story didn’t drag either.

The book also included extracts of Simon Snow, as well as Cath’s Simon Snow fanfic, Carry On. The first time I read this book, I skimmed over and pretty much skipped all of the Simon Snow extracts because I was just so keen to see what would happen to Cath next. But having now read  and loved Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On, I read through all of the extracts and little snippets more carefully this time and really enjoyed them. I still would have preferred if there were fewer of these extracts because they sometimes broke up the main storyline, but I liked that they were included and I liked the role that they played in the book (and Cath and Levi’s relationship).

I enjoyed Cath’s character so, so much in this novel. I saw so much of myself in Cath and it was just impossible not to love and care for her. Her worries and insecurities were so relatable and I definitely felt like I was on her journey of self-discovery with her. I also loved Levi in this book. He’s not really my usual type of book boyfriend but he was so caring and adorable and just all the good things. He complemented Cath really well and I loved him to bits. I also enjoyed Reagan a lot and thought she was the perfect friend for Cath. She was tough but also kind at the same time, which was exactly what Cath needed to come out of her shell. And finally there’s Wren, Cath’s twin sister. I hated her the first time I read this book, and nothing has changed since then. I wrote in my notes “Wren is still a cow”. She came across as very self-centred and annoying, and I hated how she treated Cath for most of the book. She did redeem herself at the end by being the sister she should’ve been but I’m pretty sure that I’ll still hate her the next time I reread this novel.

If you’re looking for a book with characters you can really relate to, I highly recommend Fangirl. It was sweet but serious, and explored so many themes that I love to read about in YA.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books Every Budding Psychologist Should Read

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the group over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week I thought I’d feature some books about various mental illnesses that I think are very well handled.

1. The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

This book deals with depression and teen suicide very well. It was one of my favourite YA releases of last year and just one of my favourite mental illness YA novels.

2. When We Collided by Emery Lord

The main character in this book suffers from bipolar disorder and I thought the disorder was very well represented in this novel. Both the depression and mania aspects were handled well and it’s probably the best novel about bipolar disorder that I’ve read so far.

3. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

This one is an absolute tear-jerker. But it’s completely worth it. Like if you want a good punch in the feels, read this one. But there are a whole heap of trigger warnings: self-harm, suicide, rape, emotional abuse, child abuse… the list goes on.

4. Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Finding Audrey is about a 14 year old girl who suffers from severe anxiety and depression. Despite its heavy themes, it’s actually quite a funny and lighthearted read. It’s super relatable and a highly enjoyable read.

5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

This novel is confronting but so well written and conceptualised. It’s dark and hard-hitting but so worth the read. It’s written in epistolary format and definitely one that you should dive into and experience for yourself.

6. The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

This novel deals with schizophrenia and is a great one to read if you’re looking to transition from YA to adult. The writing is impactful and you get a really good sense of schizophrenia and how it affects those suffering from it from just the main character’s voice.

7. Paperweight by Meg Haston

Paperweight is about eating disorders and is set at an institution for eating disorders. The author herself has previously battled an eating disorder and I thought the setting and how eating disorders were represented were really authentic.

8. My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

This is another one of my favourite books about depression and suicide ideation. I really liked the characters in this novel and connected with them straight away. I liked how suicide ideation was explored in this book and it stood out from all of the other books I’ve read that deal with teen suicide.

9. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

I wasn’t enamoured by the first half of this book but it came home really strongly. Another book about depression and suicide (gosh, I just love these sad books), I thought it was really unique and I enjoyed the combination of LGBTQ+, mental illness and sci-fi elements in this one a lot!

10. Dreamology by Lucy Keating

This one isn’t really about mental illness but I liked the dream and consciousness aspects of Dreamology a lot. It wasn’t the best and I’d say that it was halfway there because most of those dream elements weren’t actually resolved. It felt like the author didn’t know where to go and didn’t want to do the research so she took the easy way out and decided not to explain ANYTHING. But I still thought it was a unique and interesting concept.


Thanks for reading! See you next time!

Review: The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

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Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s
Release date: March 24, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 484
Goodreads || Book Depository

The Winner’s Kiss is the third and final book in The Winner’s Trilogy, which means that this review contains spoilers for the first two books. I highly recommend this trilogy so check out my review of The Winner’s Curse instead if you haven’t started this series!

THE WINNER’S KISS SYNOPSIS

Wishes don’t win wars

The empire is at war and a heartbroken Arin leads his people to battle. But he can’t forget Kestrel – or how she’s betrayed him. Kestrel is a sly, ruthless killer, caring more for the glory of the empire than for the lives of innocent people – and certainly more than for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is sentenced to life imprisonment in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for an escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

MY THOUGHTS

45 stars

Thank you to Bloomsbury for sending a review copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I was expecting big, big things from this third and final book because of how much I enjoyed The Winner’s Crime, and all of the tension and anticipation that that book contained. Sadly, The Winner’s Kiss didn’t reach the epic heights that I expected, but I have to acknowledge that my expectations were really really high. But even though it didn’t quite meet all of my ridiculously high expectations, I still highly enjoyed it and thought it was a great ending to the trilogy.

Just like the previous two books, The Winner’s Kiss is quite slow in pace but quick to read because the writing is so addictive. There wasn’t very much action in the first half of the book and it felt like 200 pages of fluff but ultimately, I thought it was still really satisfying to read. I wasn’t the biggest fan of something that happened in that first part of the novel because I thought that it added a lot of unnecessary drama to the book. Having said that, it was still fun to read and I completely respect the author’s decision to incorporate that aspect (I know, I’m being super vague).

I was a bit disappointed with the lack of action in The Winner’s Kiss. After finishing The Winner’s Crime, I was expecting lots and lots of epic action and strategy, and that’s really not what you get from the first 50-65% of the book. And this was, in part, due to all that unnecessary drama that I mentioned before. Having said that, the first two books in this trilogy didn’t have very much action either, so I can’t say that the lack of action in this finale was completely surprising. What this trilogy did have in the previous two books was political intrigue and strategy and I wanted to see more of it in this book because that’s what I associate with Kestrel and with this trilogy. Instead, it kind of fell by the wayside in favour of the aforementioned unnecessary drama. But, once the action finally commenced in the last third of the novel, I really enjoyed it. There was one thing that I predicted before the reveal, which made it less epic and exciting for me, but I highly enjoyed how the whole novel and trilogy ended.

As always, the characters were really, really great. I highly enjoyed Arin’s character in this book and didn’t feel frustrated with him at all (which I did in previous books). We got to see the good, bad, strong and vulnerable sides of him and I just loved the complexity that Marie Rutkoski brought to his character. I also liked Kestrel in this book, but I do have to say that I loved her character a lot more in the previous two books. Because of something that happened in this novel, I felt like her character was slightly different to who she had been in the past. However, the intelligent and strategic side of her was still present and I was really happy to see that. What I was slightly disappointed with were the side characters. We got to meet so many interesting characters in The Winner’s Crime and they were hardly present in this book. I was expecting them to play a greater role and was really looking forward to what they would bring to story, but sadly they barely featured in this final book. We did get a good dose of Roshar though, and he was funny and a fantastic character.

Overall, I highly enjoyed this final book, even though it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. It had less action than I thought it would have and the whole book just didn’t have the intensity that I wanted. Having said that, it was still a highly exciting and satisfying read and I definitely recommend this trilogy.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Favourite Booktubers

ten-favourite-booktubers

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the team at The Broke and the Bookish. This week I’m spreading the love and featuring ten of my favourite booktubers. I’m a blogger who gets most of my news from the blogging community but I always find it interesting to hear and learn about books in a different medium. These are ten booktubers whose videos I always click on when I see them in my subscriptions box! They’re all pretty popular booktubers, but hey, you gotta start somewhere right?

1. Christine @ polandbananasBOOKS

Okay, is there anyone who doesn’t watch Christine? She puts so much effort into her videos and booktalks and I think she’s incredibly funny. She makes things super fun and exciting and her videos are just what I need after a long day.

2. Max @ WellDoneBooks

Max is like my guide to literary fiction. I trust his opinion and his reviews and I nearly always end up loving everything that he recommends. When I want to read something that’s not YA, I can always get a great recommendation from watching Max’s videos.

3. Regan @ PeruseProject

Regan is another person who I really trust. I find her book reviews to be really helpful and I’ve discovered a lot of great books because of her. I first heard about All the Light We Cannot See on her channel and now it’s my favourite book ever.

4. Catriona @ LittleBookOwl

Everyone in the Australian book community knows Caz. I’ve met her once in real life and she’s absolutely lovely. I love watching her videos because the books she talks about are all available in Australia and everything she says is super relevant.

5. Samantha @ ThoughtsOnTomes

Sam has wonderful reviews and I love hearing her opinions on everything. She does interesting discussion videos on a huge range of topics too. She’s very articulate and is very thoughtful in everything that she says. I always look forward to her non-spoiler reviews, as well as her ‘gush’ and ‘gripe’ in-depth reviews.

6. Kat @ Katytastic

Kat was probably one of the first booktubers that I started watching. I just find her to be really relatable and I love all of her hauls. She has an uncontrollable book buying problem like me and her videos are just easy to watch.

7. April @ Aprilius Maximus

April is another Aussie booktuber. She reads A LOT of books each month and I enjoy watching her wrap ups and hearing her opinions on books that I’m most likely reading at the same time. I also really enjoy her bookish news videos.

8. Jamie & Jeff @ ErmahgerdBerks

Jeff and Jamie are a Canadian couple and they’re SO FUNNY to watch. They leave in so many funny/bloopery moments that other people would cut out and I love them for it. They read quite different genres and I enjoy that about their channel.

9. Raeleen @ padfootandprongs07

Another Canadian booktuber, I love that Raeleen reads super diversely. I find myself constantly going back to her book hauls and wrap ups to find new books to buy. She doesn’t only read and talk about YA, which I really appreciate.

10. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

And of course, here’s a little shout out to my co-blogger, Jeann. She doesn’t post very often but I love her monthly wrap up videos and getting short but in-depth summaries of the books she’s read. She’s super honest in her reviews and I always enjoy watching them.


Which booktubers do you regularly watch and follow?

Review: This is Where the World Ends by Amy Zhang

this-is-where-the-world-ends

Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Release date: March 21, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 304
Goodreads || Book Depository

Janie and Micah. Micah and Janie. That’s how it’s been since they were children, when Janie Vivian moved next door. Janie says Micah is everything she is not. Where Micah is shy, Janie is outgoing. Where Micah loves music, Janie loves art. It’s the perfect friendship – as long as no one finds out about it.

MY THOUGHTS

3 stars

Thank you to HarperCollins Australia for providing a review copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I first heard about this book last year at HarperCollin’s BTCYA event and I fell in love with it after hearing the pitch that was given. It was one of my most anticipated books of the first half of 2016, so I was a little bit scared and hesitant after hearing some mixed things about it from other bloggers. However, I found the story and plot to be wonderful and insightful, and I highly enjoyed it. What I wasn’t as big of a fan of were the characters, but I’ll go into that a little bit more later in my review.

This book is written in dual perspectives and from two different timelines that alternate with each chapter. I highly enjoyed this non-linear format and thought it was very reminiscent of I’ll Give You the Sun, which is my favourite YA novel of all time. From Micah’s perspective, we learn about the present (or the ‘after’) and what happens when he wakes up with no memory of something big that happened in his small town. From Janie’s perspective, we learn about the ‘before’ and the events that occurred in the months leading up to the big incident in town. Through the alternating chapters of past and present, we’re able to put together the pieces of the puzzle and figure out what happened. I really enjoyed this process and thought the format of the book was very successful in creating an atmospheric and suspenseful story. There were a couple of things that I thought were a bit predictable but they didn’t impact too much on my enjoyment of the book and its plot. I have to admit that for the first half of the novel, I wasn’t sure where the book was going and felt slightly apathetic about it, but something happened near the halfway point of the book, which pulled me into the story and gave me a better sense of what the book was trying to explore. I definitely enjoyed the second half of the book much more.

The writing in this book was wonderful and I was amazed by how well Amy Zhang can write. She uses some interesting syntax that added to the impact of the story. The writing was lyrical but easy to read, and I just loved how she was able to make me feel so many emotions with the way she put sentences together. The book also had some fairytale influences, which gave it a slightly magical quality. These were accompanied by beautiful illustrations/doodles, which brought the story to life. I thought it was highly creative and imaginative (and I recently found out from Aentee @ Read at Midnight that Amy Zhang did the illustrations in the book herself, which makes me admire her even more).

My problem with this book was that I couldn’t connect with and didn’t particularly like the two main characters. Janie is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl to the core and I couldn’t really handle her. She’s definitely put on a pedestal by Micah and I just couldn’t see what was so special about her. She was the larger-than-life and interesting character who we were all supposed to admire, but I thought she was quite dislikeable. She was manipulative and a terrible friend to Micah. She forced him into doing things and constantly told him how great they were as friends, but then ignored him when other people were around. And what really bothered me was that he kept coming back for more of this terrible treatment. The characterisation in this book just reminded me of everything that I didn’t like about Paper Towns by John Green.

I actually didn’t mind Micah’s character. For most of the book, he suffered from amnesia and couldn’t remember anything that had happened recently or retain new memories. I liked that he was an unreliable narrator because it added to the story and made me work hard at figuring out what had happened. However, I thought that he was far too passive at times and allowed Janie to push him around again and again. He just seemed like a lost puppy for most of the book and I wished that his character was stronger.

But despite the issues I had with the characterisation, I enjoyed the plot and thought the book explored a lot of issues that are relevant to today’s society, including mental health and sexual orientation. I definitely still do recommend this book even though the characters weren’t to my liking.