Review: A Season for Fireflies by Rebecca Maizel

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Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: June 28, 2016
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 256
Goodreads || Book Depository

A year ago, Penny Berne was the star of her high school’s theater department, surrounded by a group of misfit friends and falling in love for the first time. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, her new best friend is the most popular girl in school, and her first love, Wes, ignores her. Penny is revered and hated. Then, in a flash, a near-fatal lightning strike leaves Penny with no memory of the past year—or how she went from drama nerd to queen bee.

As a record number of fireflies light up her town and her life, Penny realizes she may be able to make things right again—and that even if she can’t change the past, she can learn to see the magic where she never could before.

MY THOUGHTS

25 stars

A Season of Fireflies is a book about redemption and second chances. It’s a short and summery +read if you’re looking for a quick contemporary but if you’re after something emotional with lots of character development, I think you’ll be disappointed.

This story follows Penny, a sophomore in high school who is dealing with some problems at home. Her mother is an alcoholic and it’s tearing her family apart and ruining her friendships as she tries to hide this secret from those around her. She ends up ditching her group of friends and hanging out with the popular girl at school, who doesn’t try to get her to spill her secrets. But when Penny gets struck by lightning and loses over a year’s worth of memories, she doesn’t recognise the person she currently is and realises that she may be able to make things right again.

I thought the redemption arc in this book could have been a lot stronger. The book felt very rushed and unfocused and I didn’t really see that much development in Penny. This was probably due, in part, to the fact that she had no memories of the past year and had no idea who she became after the incident that causes her to ditch all her friends. Therefore, she kind of had more of a blank slate to work with and didn’t have all that great character development that I always look for in these types of books. I also felt that there were some things that were not resolved very well. The novel has a big focus on Penny’s mother’s alcoholism but I didn’t feel that this was explored particularly well. It was definitely just used as a plot device and wasn’t given the attention that the issue deserved. I also didn’t really understand the role of the fireflies in this book. It kind of flew over my head and I didn’t understand the symbolism or why they were in the book.

On top of that, I thought that there were some things that were a bit too unrealistic for my liking. Penny ignores and behaves terribly towards her friends after just one incident. She turns into a completely different person after that single occurrence and I found it a little bit hard to believe. This was exacerbated a little bit by the fact that the transitions in the story were quite poor in my opinion. I never got a good sense of who Penny was before this incident that caused her to lose her friends and I had no idea who Penny was during the time when she had a different group of friends. My overall opinion on the plot is that the book is missing 100-150 pages. It needed more exploration of issues and better plot and character development.

I didn’t really connect with Penny as a main character. I never got a true sense of who she was because there were so many different versions of her in the book. I thought she was quite dislikable at the start of the novel and, while she did kind of redeem herself towards the end, there wasn’t enough growth in her character for me to fully connect with her and root for her. I did like some of the side characters but the book was so short that I didn’t really get a chance to know them. I enjoyed the romance between Wes and Penny but also felt that it was underdeveloped and resolved a bit too quickly.

Overall, while I did enjoy the reading experience and thought it was cute summery read, there were a lot of aspects that were lacking for me. I thought the book just needed to be longer in general so that we could get more development and resolution.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Favourite Character Voices

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This week is freebie week for Top Ten Tuesday! Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week I’m going to feature some books with strong character voices that I really connected with.

1. Adam (The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten)

I read this novel very recently and Adam’s character and his voice really made this book for me. He’s probably one of my favourite protagonists of all time and I couldn’t stop rooting for him.

2. Simon (Carry On by Rainbow Rowell)

Another one of my favourite characters, I mostly love Simon because of his voice. He’s so incredibly funny and adorable, and I sped through this 500 page book because Simon’s voice was so great. I also really loved Baz’s voice too!

3. Todd (Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness)

The thing that you notice immediately when you read the Chaos Walking trilogy is Todd’s voice and the unique writing in the book. It’s very distinctive and really shows who Todd is as a character.

4. Max (Max by Sarah Cohen-Scali)

The thing that made Max such a wonderful book for me was the main character, Max’s, voice. He’s arrogant and vocal about his opinions but that’s kind of why I love him. His character and personality really come through his voice and it was just so interesting to read from the perspective of a fetus and really young child.

5. Solomon (Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley)

Solomon is an agoraphobic who hasn’t left his house in over three years. But that doesn’t make him a boring character. He was such a funny and interesting person and that really came through in his voice. I thought the writing in this book was super strong.

6. Simon (Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli)

Simon is hilarious. He’s somebody that you automatically connect with from the very first chapter. He has a great personality and his voice is extremely relatable.

7. Audrey (Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella)

Audrey is a 14 year old girl who suffers from severe anxiety and depression but she doesn’t come across that way in the book because her voice is so unique and interesting. You can feel her anxiety and shyness but at the same time, you also can feel that she’s a sarcastic and fun-loving character.

8. Frankie (Frankie by Shivaun Plozza)

If you’re looking for a spunky character with lots of sass and attitude, Frankie is the girl for you. Her voice is feisty and sassy and makes her a character who you can’t turn away from.

9. Allyson (Just One Day by Gayle Forman)

Allyson can seem like a little bit of a bland character to some, but to me, she’s so full of life and her voice was completely relatable. I really connected with her character and I thought her voice was really, really strong.

10. Alice (The Stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard)

In this novel, Alice has been through a traumatic incident and now has trouble expressing herself verbally. So she writes poetry to express herself. This book was super interesting and had a great mix of prose and poetry. Alice’s voice and personality was so unique and strong in this book, and is the main reason why I loved it so much!


What are some of your favourite character voices?

Review: The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten

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Publisher: Walker Books
Release date: March, 2015 (Originally August 27, 2013)
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Pages: 272
Goodreads || Book Depository

When Adam meets Robyn at a support group for kids coping with obsessive-compulsive disorder, he is drawn to her almost before he can take a breath. He’s determined to protect and defend her–to play Batman to her Robyn–whatever the cost. But when you’re fourteen and the everyday problems of dealing with divorced parents and step-siblings are supplemented by the challenges of OCD, it’s hard to imagine yourself falling in love. How can you have a “normal” relationship when your life is so fraught with problems? And that’s not even to mention the small matter of those threatening letters Adam’s mother has started to receive . . .

Teresa Toten sets some tough and topical issues against the backdrop of a traditional whodunit in this engaging new novel that readers will find hard to put down.

MY THOUGHTS

5 stars

Where do I even begin with these 270 pages of goodness? It was a harrowing look into OCD and the effect it has on not only those suffering from the disorder but those around them too. But even though it was an emotional book about serious issues, there’s an abundance of humour and wit that made it an absolute delight to read. This is my favourite book about OCD that I’ve read so far and I cannot recommend it more highly.

While the book ostensibly is about the romance, there was so much more to it. In fact, I think the romance was the least important aspect of the book. It’s really a book about OCD and the struggles that our main character, Adam, has to go through and the impact OCD has on his daily life. It’s about the friendships that he forges and the relationship he has with his family members. It was a truly beautiful book and a very honest and accurate depiction of OCD and the extent to which it can significantly affect a person’s daily life. I really loved that the novel really focused on this debilitating effect that compulsions can have on a person and their ability to go about their day to day activities. I feel as though most OCD books that I’ve read have focused on obsessions with cleanliness or perfection and haven’t really addressed how people suffering from OCD aren’t able to do a lot of things that others would consider normal because they spend so much time performing rituals to make themselves feel better. I thought The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B dealt with this exceptionally well, along with other ways OCD can manifest. If you want something that’s very impactful, while remaining genuine and realistic, you can’t go wrong this book’s depiction of OCD.

“I sweat terror, Robyn! I’m scared every single second about every singled goddamned thing. I worry obsessively about being buried under an avalanche of fear. Jesus, Robyn, I’m scared like only the truly crazy can be.”

“But that, you dope, is the definition of courage: you go on, despite the fear.”

But even more than the accurate portrayal of OCD, I loved the characters in this book. If you love a character-driven story, you will really enjoy this book. Adam is now one of my favourite protagonists of all time. He was so endearing and sweet and I loved him to bits. It’s just almost impossible not to love him and be swept into his life from the very first page. He was so relatable and, despite him having to deal with his crippling anxiety, he was supportive of others around him and took care of those who needed help. His voice was unique and wonderful to read from. I felt like I completely understood him and was with him every step of the way. I also absolutely loved the side characters. There was such an eclectic set of characters all with their own little quirks. Adam attends a weekly support group with other teenagers and young adults who suffer from OCD. Together, they take on superhero alter egos and it’s just so crazy adorable and funny. They take their alter egos so seriously as well, purchasing merchandise to wear and styling their hair to match. I just really enjoyed the group dynamic and how they really supported each other inside and outside of their support group. It was just so wonderful to see them develop friendships and look out for each other (I love Thor so much!). There was no judgment and only understanding between them and I really appreciated that they gave each other space to deal with their own issues. My heart was just swelling with love for those characters. If you’ve read this book, I think you’ll understand.

I also really loved seeing Adam’s family and the role they played in this book. They all have their own problems too and it’s not always the case that they’re supporting and caring for Adam; he does the same for them too. When his 5-year-old half-brother struggles with his own anxiety problems, Adam is always there to soothe him, take care of him and be his superhero. When his mother receives some terrifying and threatening letters from an unknown source, Adam is there to give her reassurance and act as a semblance of normality in their household. He’s there to help her with her own hoarding issues. I really loved all of the relationships in this book but it was the way that Adam and his family interacted that really had me emotional.

And of course, there was the romance between Adam and Robyn, which was simultaneously a massive part and a tiny part of what the book was about. From the very first page of the book, Adam is in love with Robyn. He thinks she’s perfection in every single way and wants nothing more than to marry her and be with her forever. He’d do anything for Robyn, including saving her from her OCD and fixing himself so that he can be the best person he can be for her. There were times when Robyn came across as a little bit of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl but I never ended up minding that she was portrayed that way. Sure, she was put on a bit of a pedestal but she had her own flaws and the way that her and Adam’s relationship unfolded was so realistic and genuine. Their relationship progressed at the perfect pace and it was just so, so adorable and sweet. I loved that they were really there for each other and that they were able to be honest with each other and push each other to be better.

I have so much more that I want to say about this book but this review is getting out of hand. Just know that I absolutely loved this book and will now recommend it to everyone for the rest of my life as one of my favourite books of all time. The plot was great. The characters were great. And the feels were so, so real.

Review: The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

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Publisher: Faber & Faber
Release date: June 22, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 272
Goodreads || Book Depository

Alaska, 1970: growing up here is like nowhere else.

Ruth wants to be remembered by her grieving mother.
Dora wishes she was invisible to her abusive father.
Alyce is staying at home to please her parents.
Hank is running away for the sake of his brothers.

Four very different lives are about to become entangled. Because if we don’t save each other, how can we begin to save ourselves?

Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock’s extraordinary, stunning debut is both moving, and deeply authentic. These intertwining stories of love, tragedy, wild luck, and salvation on the edge of America’s Last Frontier introduce a writer of rare and wonderful talent.

MY THOUGHTS

5 stars

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

I’ve just finished this book and I am now a crying and sobbing mess. If you’re looking for a book that will give you a good punch in the feels, The Smell of Other People’s Houses is the one. This novel was one of my most anticipated releases of 2016 and my gut was completely right about this one.

A heartfelt and honest depiction of love and loss, this story was everything I wanted it to be and more. It was a beautifully conceptualised and executed story that really captures the atmosphere of the Alaskan setting and the culture of the people who live there. I know nothing about Alaska but I knew without a doubt that the descriptions were authentic and I felt like I was there in 1970s Alaska. The historical feel of the book was there and I enjoyed the slow pacing that I feel is unique to historical fiction. It was really beautifully done and progressed at what I thought was the perfect pace for this kind of story.

What I loved the most about The Smell of Other People’s Houses was the writing. It had a literary feel to it. There was great flow and lyricism and I just drank it all in. I felt everything that the author wanted to convey and the writing definitely pulled me into the story and made me feel like I was part of the experience. It was just so beautifully complex, yet simple at the same time and it brought out all of the emotions in me.

This novel contains four different perspectives and I actually really enjoyed that aspect of the book. I thought it worked very well and I never felt like I was being pulled around in different directions. I really liked being able to see from all four of the perspectives and it definitely made the story more intimate for me. But it wasn’t just the four perspectives that made this book interesting to me. This book actually contains four separate stories that come together at the end. We follow the lives of Ruth, Dora, Alyce and Hank and I was in awe of how seamlessly their four stories tied together in the end. There were times when I felt like everything was a bit too interconnected but I also loved that about the book and really appreciated all the links between the four narrators and their lives.

The characters in this book were perfection and it was impossible for me not to completely fall in love with every single one of them. I felt so connected to the four protagonists of the book and enjoyed every single one of their journeys. I loved Ruth, the girl who was abandoned by her mother when she was just 5 years old and now lives with her grandmother who is strict and controlling. Ruth was definitely my favourite of the four characters and her strength and resilience really resonated with me. There was also Dora, who was probably my least favourite of the main characters. She was very bitter about her circumstances and while I did understand her family struggles, it was a little bit hard to like her. She did grow on me towards the end and I thought her character growth was amazing. We also followed Alyce, an aspiring ballerina who feels a little bit trapped because of the conflict between her dreams and her duty towards her family. She was probably the character that I felt like I knew the least and wished her character had been explored a little bit more. But I enjoyed her story arc and her character. Hank was another favourite character of mine. We follow him as he runs away from his neglectful mother with his two younger brothers. He acts as the father figure to his brothers but he just wants to be his own person and live his own life. I loved his relationships with his brothers and how he forged relationships with others.

I don’t really have anything negative to say about this book. I did have a little bit of a hard time remember who all the characters were during the first two chapters but each character was so different and unique that it took me very little time to figure it all out. This book is so full of wonderful characters, relationships and love. It was just beautiful to see how each character overcame their hardships and leaned on others for support. It’s become one of my favourite books and I would recommend this to everyone in a heartbeat.

The Smell of Other People’s Houses was published on June 22, 2016 by Faber & Faber and is available at Australian retailers for $16.99.

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite 2016 Releases So Far This Year

favourite-2016-releases-so-far

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is favourite 2016 releases so far, which is one of my favourite things to post about. I love recommending books and I’ve rated all of these either 4.5 or 5 stars. These are in no particular order and my full reviews are linked.

1. The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

This was my most recent 5 star reads. I absolutely loved everything about it. It’s a beautiful historical fiction novel set in the 1970s in Alaska, following four teens who are each dealing with personal struggles and how their stories collide. I’ll have a full review up on Thursday.

2. The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

Morgan Matson is one of my favourite authors. She’s an auto-buy author of mine because she writes the most beautiful and relatable summery contemporaries. The Unexpected Everything was amazing and I loved the characters soooo much!

3. Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley

This was my first John Corey Whaley book and it didn’t disappoint. Featuring an agoraphobic and a wannabe psychologist, this book was moving, powerful and absolutely beautiful. The friendships and relationships in this book are GOALS.

4. Frankie by Shivaun Plozza

This debut novel absolutely blew my mind. Frankie was full of spunk, attitude and just screamed Melbourne and Australia to me. The novel made me laugh and cry and it was just such an experience.

5. A Tangle of Gold by Jaclyn Moriarty

This is the third and final book of Jaclyn Moriarty’s A Colour of Madeleine trilogy. It was mindblowingly good and wrapped up the series so beautifully. There were so many twists and turns and my heart was just beating out of my chest the entire time. If you want something magical and whimsical, this series will give you exactly that.

6. Max by Sarah Cohen-Scali

I love my WWII historical fiction and Max is the standout WWII novel that I’ve read this year. It’s translated from French and has such an interesting premise. It follows Max, a product of the Lebensborn program in Germany, from before he was born until the end of WWII. It was amazing and more people need to read this because it’s so underrated.

7. The Stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard

This book broke my heart and mended it at the same time. It was so beautifully written and had such wonderful relationships. The relationship between Alice and her brother, Joey, made me cry for ages during and after my read. It’s a must-read in my opinion.

8. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Another series finale, The Raven King is the fourth and final book of The Raven Cycle. It wasn’t everything that I expected it to be but what Maggie Stiefvater did give us was absolutely brilliant anyway. The characters are definitely the standout and I’ve enjoyed their journey immensely.

9. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

I loved this new Shadowhunters book so much!! It was an awesome start to a new series. It wasn’t quite as good as Clockwork Angel for me but I thought it was a superb first book with some really diverse and interesting characters.

10. The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis

Another amazing Aus YA book released this year. I really loved The Sidekicks, which is a story about three boys who are each dealing with grief in their own ways and what happens when they lean on each other.


These are just some of my favourite 2016 releases that I’ve read so far this year. I’m sure there will be many more amazing releases to come. What have been your favourite 2016 releases or 2016 reads?

Review: How it Feels to Fly by Kathryn Holmes

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Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: June 14, 2016
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 368
Goodreads || Book Depository

A struggle with body dysmorphia forces one girl to decide if letting go of her insecurity also means turning her back on her dreams.

Sam has always known she’d be a professional dancer—but that was before her body betrayed her, developing unmanageable curves in all the wrong places. Lately, the girl staring back at Sam in the mirror is unrecognizable. Dieting doesn’t work, ignoring the whispers is pointless, and her overbearing mother just makes it worse.

Following a series of crippling anxiety attacks, Sam is sent to a treatment camp for teens struggling with mental and emotional obstacles. Forced to open up to complete strangers, Sam must get through the program if she wants to attend a crucial ballet intensive later in the summer. It seems hopeless until she starts confiding in a camp counselor who sparks a confidence she was sure she’d never feel again. But when she’s faced with disappointing setbacks, will Sam succumb to the insecurity that imprisons her?

This compelling story from Kathryn Holmes examines one girl’s efforts to overcome her worst enemy: herself.

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

How it Feels to Fly is a beautiful coming-of-age, mental health story about overcoming anxiety and other barriers to become the person you want to be. It deals with body image, self-confidence and other anxieties that performers may suffer from.

This was such a relatable story. Our main character, Sam, is a ballerina and wants nothing more than to be a professional dancer. However, in recent years, she’s developed curves and her body is no longer the ideal body of a ballet dancer. This has led her to develop body dysmorphia and she’s unable to stop her inner voice that’s telling her she’s fat and unworthy. She finds herself at a summer therapy camp for performers, where she meets 5 other teens dealing with various anxiety issues. What I enjoyed most about this book was that it wasn’t only about Sam’s problems. The book also dealt with the issues that the other campers had and focused on their treatment and development throughout the book too. And because of the variety of anxiety issues that were explored, it’s impossible not to relate or feel connected to the book because we would have all experienced some of the same uncertainties or anxieties at some point in our lives. I also really liked that the book wasn’t about ballet. It was about Sam’s insecurities and the mental struggles she was having, rather than about ballet or the ballet world itself. The book was set almost entirely at the therapy camp and I loved that about it.

I thought the way Sam’s anxiety and body image issues were represented was very realistic. I felt extremely uneasy at times because her negative thoughts and the way she saw herself was very relatable and believable. Body dissatisfaction is probably something that everybody has dealt with at some point, including me, and it was so upsetting to see Sam taking it so hard and working so hard to get the perfect body. I thought her character development was wonderful and the progress she made was so heartwarming and inspiring. I didn’t always love her as a character but I really enjoyed and appreciated the journey that she took. The author has done a magnificent job at thoroughly addressing all of the issues and factors involved in Sam’s anxiety. I did, however, think that the problems she had with her mother were resolved a little bit too quickly at the end and I wanted it to be a bigger focus of the book.

There were a lot of great side characters in How it Feels to Fly. Even though I didn’t always like Sam’s character, there was always somebody else to latch on to and that made it a very enjoyable reading experience. The relationships between them were also great and there was just such a wonderful group dynamic. The only relationship that I didn’t like was the romance (if you can call it that) in the book between Sam and Andrew. The relationship between them made me feel uncomfortable from the very beginning and it started to go in a slightly “love cures all” direction. I really did not like the idea that you need a guy to tell you that you’re beautiful in order to believe it, and I felt that the book started to go in that direction a little bit. But I really appreciated that the author actually addressed this later in the book and made Sam’s development and progress about herself, rather than Andrew or any other guy.

Overall, I think this was a really emotional and powerful read that a lot of young adults would get a lot out of. There were a couple of things that I thought could have been delved into a little bit further and developed more. But as a whole, I thought it was a wonderful story with lots of relatable characters and issues.

Review: Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes

girl-against-the-universe

Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: May 17, 2016
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 382
Goodreads || Book Depository

Maguire is bad luck.

No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time the roller coaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch.

It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away may be harder than she thought.

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

I enjoyed this contemporary novel so, so much! It was a really fun and uplifting read that’s also kind of perfect for summer. I thoroughly enjoyed the friendships, romance and character development in this story.

Girl Against the Universe follows Maguire, a girl who may be cursed. Bad things tend to happen to people when Maguire is around. As a result of a few too many incidents, including one that killed her father, uncle and older brother, Maguire has distanced herself from the world and developed OCD. She’s unable to take public transport or be in public/crowded areas without feeling anxious and typically avoids being around people by staying in her own room. However, when her grandmother decides to hold an event to commemorate the 5 year anniversary of the death of Maguire’s family members, she decides to take treatment seriously in order to overcome her fears. She ends up joining the school tennis club, which opens up a lot of opportunities for Maguire, including forging new friendships and a relationship with cute tennis star, Jordy.

What I really liked about this novel was that it wasn’t a ‘love cures mental illness’ kind of story. Sure, Jordy plays a huge part in bringing Maguire out of her shell, but its through her own efforts and determination that she was able to overcome her anxiety. I liked how supportive Jordy was and how supportive all of Maguire’s new friends were, but she really made the effort and had the intention to get better. I loved the mental health aspects of the book and thought that it was nicely incorporated and well-researched. I did have a few problems with the therapy sessions because the way that Maguire’s therapist went about it goes against the most popular and effective method of treatment for anxiety, but Paula Stokes did acknowledge in the author’s note that she took some liberties with it. Overall, I thought anxiety was really well represented in this novel.

What I liked most about this book were the relationships between the characters. There were so many different relationships explored in this book and they were all wonderfully developed. I enjoyed her friendships with the girls from the tennis club and how they supported her through all of her therapy challenges and never judged her for her fears. I also really loved Maguire’s relationship with her mum and stepfather. It was really nice to see her open up to them and express how she was feeling. And I also really loved seeing them open up to her about their own fears and how the accident has affected them. And of course, I really loved Maguire’s relationship with Jordy. It felt very honest and realistic and I loved the way that she supported him during his struggles as well. Nothing feels better than reading about a relationship that goes both ways. I thought their romance developed at the perfect pace and while it did feel slightly insta-lovey at the beginning, there was a strong focus on the friendship between them that wasn’t eclipsed by the romance.

In terms of the characters, Maguire was a character who was extremely easy to like. I was rooting for her from the very beginning because she was so likeable. It was a little bit painful to read about her constantly second-guessing herself and everyone around her but that made it even sweeter when she was able to overcome her anxiety. Her character definitely developed a lot throughout the book and I appreciated how realistic her character growth was. There were definitely setbacks but her strength was definitely evident throughout the story. As for the side characters, there honestly wasn’t anyone who I didn’t like. They were all wonderful and unique from each other and I loved all of them.

This book was uplifting, funny, and adorable. If you’re looking for a pick-me-up or something that will bring you out of a reading slump, this one would be perfect!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2016

top-ten-anticipated-second-half-2016-releases

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the team at The Broke and the Bookish. This week I’m featuring ten upcoming 2016 releases that I’m very highly anticipating. These will all be released in the second half of this year.

1. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

I absolutely loved Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. It was definitely a step up from her Grisha trilogy. The characters and the relationships between them were so good and I can’t wait to read more about them. I’m so sad that this is only a duology though. I’ve already preordered this one and it comes out on September 27 😀

2. Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

Wolf by Wolf was another book that I really loved when I read it last year. It’s such an exciting and action-paced story and I love that it’s an alternate history novel. I also really enjoyed the prequel novella, Iron to Iron. Cannot wait to get my hands on this sequel. Again, I’m sad that it’s a duology and not a trilogy. November 1 could not come soon enough!

3. Heartless by Marissa Meyer

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer is probably my favourite series of all time. So I cannot wait to get my hands on this upcoming release, which is a retelling of Alice in Wonderland. November 8 is the release date for this novel.

4. Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

I recently read ACOMAF by Sarah J. Maas and didn’t enjoy it very much so my excitement for this fifth book of the Throne of Glass series has dampened a little bit. But I’ve been enjoying where the series has been going so I guess I’m still excited to see where this next book goes. This is out on September 6.

5. Frost Like Night by Sara Raasch

I’m highly anticipating this third and final book of the Snow Like Ashes trilogy. I absolutely loved Snow Like Ashes and it became one of my favourite novels of all time… but Ice Like Fire really disappointed me. I have a feeling that this finale is going to be epic though! It comes out on September 20.

6. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

I really enjoyed Nicola Yoon’s debut novel, Everything Everything. It had really interesting formatting and lots of beautiful illustrations. I’m hoping that The Sun is Also a Star will have those elements too. The synopsis also sounds very intriguing and I love a female protagonist who loves science. This novel comes out on November 1.

7. Replica by Lauren Oliver

I haven’t read anything by Lauren Oliver yet but I’m drawn in by the gimmicky nature of this book. The book can be read four ways and I think it’d be great to experience it. Also, from what I’ve read of the synopsis, it sounds like an intriguing sci-fi read. This is out on October 4.

8. PS. I Like You by Kasie West

Who can resist a new Kasie West book? Her novels are so quick and easy to read and absolutely perfect for a reading slump. I’ve enjoyed all of her books so far and I’m keen to read more from her. Also, this one comes out on July 26, so not too long to go!

9. Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine

This is the sequel to Ink and Bone, which I read earlier this year and absolutely fell in love with. It’s such a great alternate history story that’s all about books and the Great Library of Alexandria. I can’t wait to continue the series and see how it all plays out. This one also comes out really soon on July 5.

10. Cure For the Common Universe by Christian McKay Heidicker

I honestly don’t know too much about this book but it has a really fun cover and the main character is sent to video game rehab. If that doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, I don’t know what does. And whoops, I thought this one was out in July but it’s actually out today! June 14.


Which one of these are you also highly anticipating? Also, if you haven’t already, check out my 1 year blogoversary giveaways.

It’s my one year blogoversary! Q&A + Giveaways!

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I started this blog one year ago today. During this one year, I’ve posted 227 times and I’ve met so many bookish friends around the globe. Thank you for always visiting and commenting on my reviews and other posts, even though lately it’s been taking me a long time to get back to you all. Here’s to another fantastic year!

In celebration of this wonderful day (since I never thought I’d get to this point), I have a few giveaways and a short Q&A. I posted on Twitter and asked you guys to send through questions for me and here they are:

Q&A

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My favourite moment of blogging in the past year is being chosen to be one of Jeann’s cobloggers at Happy Indulgence. I’ve made so many new friends because of coblogging and Jeann and Aila are definitely two of my blogging besties. I love them so much! The hardest part about blogging for me at the moment is replying to comments promptly. I feel really bad about not replying to comments (sometimes for weeks) and it can get me a little bit slumpy with blogging as well. Ooooh I have no idea which post is my favourite. Maybe this one? 😀

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Before I started blogging, I was already reviewing books on Goodreads regularly. I started a blog so that I could reach a bigger audience since I love to share my opinions, and make friends with others in the community, which is something that’s a little bit hard to do just on Goodreads.

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I don’t know, Joey. Why am I so ceebs?

(For those of you who don’t know, ceebs is short for cannot be bothered. It’s something that I say all the time and Joey makes fun of me for it.)

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This is something else that Joey makes fun of me for. I really, really, really hate the cold (I actually also really hate hot weather) and I just have super low tolerance for snow and wind and… just cold weather. But I’m from Sydney, where it doesn’t snow or even get that cold so that’s my excuse. When I visit Joey in Canada later this year, I’ll be complaining the whole time.

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I LOVE coblogging with Jeann and Aila over at Happy Indulgence. We just get along with each other so well and we have lots of daily chats. Jeann isn’t afraid to tell us what she wants and I feel so comfortable asking her questions. It’s been a really great time! We actually posted a discussion about the pros and cons of coblogging a few weeks ago.

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Hahaha I don’t really have any secrets. My full-time job is being a PhD student and at this point in my candidature, I don’t really have to do any work outside of work hours. So I pretty much only do work when I’m at uni and when I’m not, I just read. It’s been working pretty well for me. I don’t read when I’m at work and I don’t work when I’m at home.

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This is such a hard question! Obviously, the standard answer would be Harry Potter right? I’d love to go to Hogwarts! But I also really love the world that Marissa Meyer has created with her Lunar Chronicles series. It would be so cool to live in the future and have all the crazy technology that Marissa Meyer has come up with! But I would also love to be a Shadowhunter. It would be insane and I’d have to do so much training, but totally worth it if I can live in an Institute with one of those hot males 😛 Or maybe the Grisha world? I would love to have Grisha powers and also get to hang out with Kaz and Inej from Six of Crows.

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My reviewing process is actually pretty simple. I write down notes on my phone as I’m reading and I turn those notes into a longer review when I’ve finished the book. I write down my thoughts as I go, as well as beautiful quotes that I can use. My reviews pretty much write themselves as I elaborate on and connect my notes together. If I’m not procrastinating, it will usually take me about 30 minutes to write a review. But I don’t make graphics for my posts, so that cuts down on the time it takes. For a Happy Indulgence review, it usually takes me about 1 hour because of all the additional information I need to add in.

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Omg this is question is so hard to answer. I’ve read 84 books so far this year and a lot of them I’ve rated very highly. A few that stand out in my mind are I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios, The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore, A Tangle of Gold by Jaclyn Moriarty and Max by Sarah Cohen-Scali.

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Hehehe I’m pretty sure most of you will already know the answer to this one. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is my favourite book of all time. My second favourite book of all time is another adult book – A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. I’m always very hesitant to recommend it though because it’s very graphic and upsetting and isn’t for everyone. I also really love The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion if you’re looking for something light-hearted and funny. I also love The Lake House by Kate Morton.

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*gives Aila powers* She doesn’t need them though. She’s much better at this blogging thing than I am.

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This girl needs to stop flattering me. She’s also much more awesome than I am. You need to check out her reviews and discussion posts because they’re so deep and thoughtful.

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This question is cruel. Werner is the male protagonist from All the Light We Cannot See and I love him soooooo much! But Draco Malfoy was probably my first fictional crush. There’s just something about his obnoxious gelled-back hair that was super endearing. So I think I’ve gotta choose Draco. But hehehehe, my ultimate book boyfriend is actually Will Herondale XD

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I slay them both with my love every single day. You’re not satisfied with my response, are you?

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I literally have no social life. I’d much prefer to stay home and read every single night. I don’t think I read particularly quickly but I just spend a lot of time doing it.


GIVEAWAYS

Eeeep I’m so excited about these giveaways. I much prefer giving people gifts than receiving them and I’m so excited to be giving THREE winners awesome prizes!

GIVEAWAY RULES:

The rules are the same for all three giveaways.

  • All giveaways will end at the end of the month on June 30 at 11:59PM AEST.
  • Each person is eligible for two out of the three giveaways depending on where you live. Make sure you check which giveaways are open to your country because I will have to disqualify you if you enter a giveaway that isn’t open to you.
  • There will be ONE winner for each giveaway and the winners will be chosen at random through Rafflecopter.
  • I will contact the winners on July 1 and if I don’t receive a reply within 48 hours, I will choose another winner. I will be checking all entries so please don’t cheat!
  • I will require a postage address so please make sure that you have parental permission to give me your address if you’re under 18.
  • Book Depository will be sending out the orders for the first and third giveaways so I take no responsibility for lost or damaged parcels. I will send you a shipping confirmation and keep you updated on the process though. I will be personally sending out the prize for the second (Aus YA) giveaway and will provide the winner with tracking information.

Now for the giveaways!!!

GIVEAWAY 1: YOUR CHOICE OF ONE OF MY RECENT FAVOURITE CONTEMPORARIES & ONE PAPERBACK OF YOUR CHOICE (INTERNATIONAL)

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CLICK THE IMAGE ABOVE OR THIS LINK TO GO TO THE RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY PAGE

For this giveaway, the winner gets to choose one of the three books shown above, as well as one paperback of your choice from Book Depository.


GIVEAWAY 2: YOUR CHOICE OF ONE OF MY FAVOURITE AUS YA NOVELS & ONE MORE AUS YA OF YOUR CHOICE (OPEN TO NON-AUSSIES ONLY)

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CLICK THE IMAGE ABOVE OR THIS LINK TO GO TO THE RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY PAGE

This giveaway is open only to those who don’t live in Australia so that we can give those who don’t have access to these books a chance to read them too! For this giveaway, the winner gets to choose one of the five books shown above (I left my copy of Frankie on my desk at work…) and one additional Aussie YA book of your choice.


GIVEAWAY 3: A PREORDER OF ONE UPCOMING RELEASE IN US HARDCOVER EDITION (AUS ONLY)

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CLICK THE IMAGE ABOVE OR THIS LINK TO GO TO THE RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY PAGE

This giveaway is only open to those in Australia, to give them a chance to win a beautiful hardcover edition of a new release. The winner can choose a preorder for any upcoming release in hardcover. The ones pictured above are examples of upcoming releases you can choose from but you can pick any book you want! Of course, special editions like the illustrated edition of Chamber of Secrets are not included.


That’s it from me! Thank you for your support during my first year of blogging and good luck!

Review: Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick

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Publisher: Hachette Books
Release date: May 31, 2016
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 272
Goodreads || Book Depository

Nanette O’Hare is an unassuming teen who has played the role of dutiful daughter, hard-working student, and star athlete for as long as she can remember. But when a beloved teacher gives her his worn copy of The Bubblegum Reaper – the mysterious, out-of-print cult-classic – the rebel within Nanette awakens.

As she befriends the reclusive author, falls in love with a young but troubled poet, and attempts to insert her true self into the world with wild abandon, Nanette learns the hard way that sometimes rebellion comes at a high price.

A celebration of the self and the formidable power of story, Every Exquisite Thing is Matthew Quick at his finest.

MY THOUGHTS

45 stars

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

How do I even begin to describe this book and my reading experience? It was important and inspiring, but in the most unassuming way. It’s the kind of story that slowly burrows its way into the depths of your heart and, before you know it, it’s the only thing you can think about. It was relatable and honest… and one of the best coming-of-age stories that I’ve read so far this year (and I’ve read a lot of beautiful coming-of-age stories this year).

“You can’t live for someone else. At some point you just explode, which is probably why you began spouting curse words like a Roman candle.”

But I don’t think I can adequately tell you what this book is about. We follow 18 year old, Nanette O’Hare, a soccer champion and straight-A student who’s always done what she’s been told to do. Living in the suburbs of New Jersey, she’s always conformed with what everyone else has done but when her English teacher gives her an out-of-print book to read, the fire and rebellion in her is brought to life… I think that’s probably all you should know. It was really the reading experience and the deep connection that I had with Nanette that made me love this book as much as I did. I really felt like I was there with her, experiencing her highs and lows, her confusions and reservations, her imperfections… And it was just impossible not to understand what she was going through because I’ve been through the same thing.

The characters were fantastic and I loved, loved, loved Nanette. She’s determined, strong, and has a good sense of morality. I loved her acts of rebellion, which were more acts of putting herself first than acts of rebellion. I loved that she didn’t know who she was or who she wanted to be but that it was okay. Her journey of self-discovery was just so relatable and interesting, despite sometimes being tragic and dramatic, and (I’m repeating myself a lot here) but I loved it so much. I also really liked the side characters and the role that they played in Nanette’s life. They each had an impact on her growth and I was constantly rooting for them too. I enjoyed and appreciated the role of Nanette’s parents and how they treated Nanette as she was discovering herself. They were supportive, rational and present, and I liked them a lot.

“It’s okay to love people who aren’t perfect. People who still have work to do on themselves.”

This novel is full of beautiful writing. There are so many quotable passages and I just felt so connected to the story, the characters and the messages through the powerful writing of Matthew Quick. It had beautiful flow and was extremely easy to read. There was also a lot of beautiful poetry in this book that really touched and moved me. I just really enjoyed it and finished the book in two short sittings.

If you’re looking for a short but poignant coming-of-age story, I highly recommend this one because it has a beautiful story, beautiful characters and beautiful writing.