Review: London Belongs to Us by Sarra Manning

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Publisher: Hot Key Books
Release date: July 27, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 272
Goodreads || Book Depository || Booktopia

One girl, 2 boys and a whole lot of hipsters in one crazy 12 hour adventure through the streets of London. Twelve hours, two boys, one girl… and a whole lot of hairspray.

Seventeen-year-old Sunny’s always been a little bit of a pushover. But when she’s sent a picture of her boyfriend kissing another girl, she knows she’s got to act. What follows is a mad, twelve-hour dash around London – starting at 8pm in Crystal Palace (so far away from civilisation you can’t even get the Tube there) then sweeping through Camden, Shoreditch, Soho, Kensington, Notting Hill… and ending up at 8am in Alexandra Palace.

Along the way Sunny meets a whole host of characters she never dreamed she’d have anything in common with – least of all the devilishly handsome (and somewhat vain) French ‘twins’ (they’re really cousins) Jean Luc and Vic. But as this love-letter to London shows, a city is only a sum of its parts, and really it’s the people living there who make up its life and soul. And, as Sunny discovers, everyone – from friends, apparent-enemies, famous bands and even rickshaw drivers – is willing to help a girl on a mission to get her romantic retribution.

A fast-paced, darkly funny love letter to London, boys with big hair and the joys of staying up all night.

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

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

I have been a fan of Sarra Manning’s since I was 12 or 13 years old. Her Diary of a Crush trilogy were probably the first YA books that I read as a pre-teen/early teen and I’ve been following her career ever since I discovered those books. I borrowed, renewed, re-borrowed and renewed that trilogy from my local library over and over until I had enough money to buy my own copies! Let’s Get Lost was one of my favourite books of all time up until I was about 16 or 17, and it still holds a precious place in my heart and my reading history. And Unsticky, her first adult novel, was released around the time when I was transitioning into reading adult fiction and I reread that book countless times too. Needless to say, I was super excited when I heard about her new YA release, London Belongs to Us, which is essentially a love letter to London.

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London Belongs to Us takes place in London within a 12 hour period. We start at 8pm at Crystal Palace and travel all around London with the main character, Sunny, until we reach Alexandra Palace at 8am the next morning. (Disclaimer: I’ve never been to London and I have no idea where all these places are.) The story begins with Sunny making plans to meet up with and have sex with her boyfriend, Mark. But soon after, she receives some very incriminating photos of Mark kissing another girl in a different part of London. Sunny then spends the whole night travelling around London trying to track down a very elusive Mark. Along the way, she meets some crazy characters and new friends, and discovers a whole new side of herself that she’s never been able to let out.

This was such a fun novel and I finished it in one sitting. It was a crazy and exciting adventure around London and Sunny gets up to all sorts of crazy antics, like dancing the Charleston on top of a freezer unit in a convenience store, doing illegal u-turns in a rickshaw pulled by an Australian, and carrying a broom around for the whole night. She went to so many different places around London and I enjoyed going along with her. What I really loved about London Belongs to Us is that each chapter is set in a different place in London and there were a couple of paragraphs about the history of each location and also what is distinctive about each location now. Even though I didn’t really know much about the city, I discovered so much as I read the novel and it was a really great learning experience. For readers who are familiar with London, I think this would be a very relatable book and you’d probably find yourself laughing out loud or agreeing with how these places are portrayed.

But then I think about riding pillion on scooters and seeing off rude boys and dancing the Charleston and I think that Mark has never seen the best of me.

Despite being a short novel, Sarra Manning packs quite a bit of character development into it. Sunny starts off with being a bit of a pushover. She’s afraid to say and do what she wants, and she allows Mark to charm her and walk all over her. She follows her mother’s rules to a tee and always aims to please. But throughout this book, she learns to speak her mind and be herself, while going on a wild adventure that she’d never dream of going on. Sunny is biracial and the book explores what this means for Sunny as well as other people of colour in London. I really loved that this was an issue that was explored in the book and I highly enjoyed the diversity. There were also  LGBTQIA+ side characters and I just loved how this book celebrated diversity. There wasn’t a single side character in the novel that I didn’t like, but of course I especially loved the two cute French boys that accompany Sunny on her all-night adventure around London. I loved the banter and all the bickering between the French boys, as well as the fact that the first thing they do after taking off their scooter helmets is to drown their hair in hairspray to poof it up. It was just all so much fun!

Sarra Manning has never disappointed me and I absolutely loved London Belongs to Us. It was crazy and energetic and just a really great feel-good read that made me laugh a lot.

London Belongs to Us was published by Hot Key Books on July 27, 2016. It is available at Australian retailers for $16.99.

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Review: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

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Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release date: July 25, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Pages: 496
Goodreads || Book Depository

Destined to destroy empires Mia Covere is only ten years old when she is given her first lesson in death.

Six years later, the child raised in the shadows takes her first steps towards keeping the promise she made on the day that she lost everything.

But the chance to strike against such powerful enemies will be fleeting, so if she is to have her revenge, Mia must become a weapon without equal. She must prove herself against the deadliest of friends and enemies, and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and demons at the heart of a murder cult.

The Red Church is no Hogwarts, but Mia is no ordinary student. The shadows loves her. And they drink her fear.

MY THOUGHTS

45 stars

I attended the launch of Nevernight in Sydney last week, where we were able to get finished copies of the book two weeks before release and have them signed by Jay Kristoff himself. It was a super fun event and I had loads of fun with other Sydney bloggers and fans.

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Nevernight is a dark fantasy about an assassin who attends The Red Church, a school that breeds assassins, in order to become skilled enough to take down the men who ruined her family six years ago. Along the way, she meets friends and foes and the path to revenge isn’t as easy as Mia thought.

I absolutely loved this book and it exceeded all of my expectations! I had heard so much pre-release hype and I was a little wary going into it since I’m more of a contemporary fan but I adored it and devoured it in a few sittings. It was dark and gruesome but so completely engaging and exciting and I couldn’t put it down. I did have some problems getting into the book at the start. The narration took me a few chapters to get used to and I found myself constantly having to reread sentences in the first few chapters. But once I got used to it, it was wonderful. The narrator has a very distinct voice and really enjoyed reading from his perspective (I’m assuming it’s a ‘he’). The other thing that made it hard for me to get into the book were the footnotes. There were lots and lots of footnotes for the first quarter of the book and they really took me out of the story and I felt like there wasn’t much flow to the book because of that. I tried ignoring the footnotes and read the story as it was but the footnotes contained some crucial information that I didn’t feel comfortable missing. Thankfully, there were far fewer footnotes in the second half of the novel and I was really able to just enjoy the story and the characters.

I was a big fan of the world in this book. It had an Ancient Rome-inspired fantasy setting and I thought the world building was brilliantly done. My only negative is that some of the world building is achieved through the footnotes and, like I mentioned above, they didn’t really work for me. Having said that, I got a really good sense of the culture, customs and religions of the world and thought it was nicely conceptualised. I also loved The Red Church and thought it was such a fun (errrrr… well brutally fun?) and interesting place. It had a really magical feel to it and the library in the school was magnificent!

“Your mind will serve you better than any trinket under the suns,” she’d said. “It is a weapon, Mia. And like any weapon, you need to practice to be any good at wielding it.”

Mia is one of my new favourite YA characters. She’s not afraid to do what it takes to get what she wants but she also displays a softer and more sensitive side. Even though she’s ruthless and has murder on her mind, she cares deeply for those around her and has a good sense of morality. Her decisions and thought processes were logical and I never once felt that she was overly dramatic or did things that were unrealistic. I absolutely loved her and I really cannot wait to read more about her and see her grow further. I also highly enjoyed some of the side characters, particularly Tric, who becomes somewhat of a love interest. I fell in love with Tric from the very beginning and my love for him only grew as the book progressed *clutches chest*. There were also other great characters at The Red Church but I won’t mention them by name because this post would last forever if I did. Just know that all of the characters were complex and multifaceted and I didn’t find any of them to be boring.

Overall, I loved Nevernight and thought it was a wonderful start to a new trilogy. The book isn’t even technically out yet but I cannot wait to get my hands on book 2!!!

#ReadThemAllThon TBR Pile

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I’m so excited to be participating in the #ReadThemAllThon, created and hosted by the brilliant Aentee @ Read at Midnight. This readathon celebrates our love of books and our newfound obsession with Pokemon Go! To find out more about the challenges and rules, check out Aentee’s sign up post and her TBR pile!

All graphics in this post were made by Aentee except the trainer card that I made below.

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I’m a pretty fast reader so I think I can handle having Magikarp as my chosen Pokemon. Even though it’s kind of useless, it evolves into the fiercest and most wonderful Pokemon there is, Gyarados. In this readathon, Magikarp doesn’t evolve until it reaches 450CP, so I have lots of work and reading ahead of me!


TBR Pile

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So my TBR for this readathon is actually made up of books that I’ve been meaning to read for a very long time. They’re all super popular and I’m finally getting to them now. To break things up, I’ve included one new release but I’m hoping to use these three weeks to finally catch up on some books that I should have read ages ago.
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It’s been a long time coming but I’m hoping to finally read The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson. The Mistborn series has been sitting on my shelf for far too long and I’m finally going to conquer it next month!

647 pages, potential +64CP

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I’m not sure if Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys will make me cry, but I’ve read so many rave reviews that have said that it’s emotional and heartbreaking. I’m a book cryer… I cry super easily so I’m sure this one will fit the category.

400 pages, potential +40CP

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For this one, I’ve gone with Vicious by V.E. Schwab. I’ve heard countless good things about it and everyone says it’s their favourite Schwab book so I’m going to trust the hype and dive in.

340 pages, potential +34CP

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The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle is the only newish release in my TBR stack but I’ve been dying to read this book! In fact I want to read it right now but I have too many other books that I need to read first T_T. This will probably be the first book I’m going to pick up for the readathon.

288 pages, potential +28CP

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I’m going to be meeting Rainbow Rowell at the end of August and early September so I’m going to finally read Eleanor & Park this month. It was the first Rainbow Rowell book I ever bought and I actually started it as soon as I bought it… but somehow it remains the only book of hers I haven’t completed. I’ve heard that Eleanor and Park are great together in this book so I’m looking forward to what the romance has to offer 🙂

325 pages, potential +32CP

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For this challenge, I’ll be reading one of my most anticipated releases of the year. I’ve had All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders for months but still haven’t found the time to pick it up. This one has a really interesting synopsis with lots of cool fantasy elements. I’m excited!

432 pages, potential +43CP

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I had a hard time choosing a book for this. I couldn’t really find an unread book on my shelf that had a cover that was entirely red. Until I remembered that I still haven’t read A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab. The UK cover for this book is red!

508 pages, potential +50CP

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Everyone’s going to yell at me in the comments about this one… but I’ve never read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Yup. But I do plan on reading at least the first book for this readathon.

374 pages, potential +37CP


There is a +20CP bonus for each gym badge/book I complete, so if I finish all 8 books, my potential total is 488CP!

And since my Magikarp can evolve into Gyarados (+120CP) when it reaches 450CP, I should have a grand total of 608CP before Twitter and review bonuses. BRING IT ON!

Review: Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

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Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Release date: May, 2011
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Pages: 228
Goodreads || Book Depository

In the remarkable, bizarre, and heart-wrenching summer before Cullen Witter’s senior year of high school, everything he thinks he understands about his small and painfully dull Arkansas town vanishes. His cousin overdoses; his town becomes absurdly obsessed with the alleged reappearance of an extinct woodpecker; and, most troubling of all, his sensitive, gifted fifteen-year-old brother, Gabriel, suddenly and inexplicably disappears.

As Cullen navigates a summer of finding and losing love, holding his fragile family together, and muddling his way into adulthood, a young, disillusioned missionary in Africa searches for meaning wherever he can find it. And when those two stories collide, a surprising and harrowing climax emerges that is tinged with melancholy and regret, comedy and absurdity, and above all, hope.

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

I’m having a hard time putting to words what this book was about. On the surface, When Things Come Back is an emotional mystery about a boy dealing with grief and the strange disappearance of his brother but the novel is about so much more than that. It explores religion and the meaning of life in an intricate and complex way.

When Things Come Back was beautifully written. It has wonderfully constructed prose that draws you into the story and the refuses to let you go. It was philosophical, emotional and, strangely, it also felt like magical realism even though this book is definitely realistic fiction. I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the book and how writing set up the melancholy and stuffiness of this small, sleepy town in Arkansas. I also really loved the occasional third person omniscient narration, which is probably my favourite kind of narration in fiction. I really connected with it and highly enjoyed it. This book is however, mostly written in first person, from Cullen’s point of view. I loved his voice in the book and thought he was very honest and real. However, he did refer to himself in third person a lot and it really threw me off and made the book a little bit confusing. Other than that, I thought the writing was wonderful.

While the book is beautifully written and emotionally impactful, it’s really the last section of the novel that makes this book brilliant. The entire novel is written in alternating chapters, following Cullen and a young missionary called Benton Sage who is sent to Ethiopia at the beginning of the book. I have to admit that I was quite confused for a good 5 chapters of the book because Benton’s story was quite distinct from Cullen’s and I had no idea how they were connected. For a while, I thought Benton’s story was a story that Cullen was writing (because I obviously don’t read blurbs carefully enough) and I just had a hard time seeing how they were connected. However, these stories are connected and they are connected brilliantly. It doesn’t become clear what the connection is until the last 25% of the book, but I thought it was very well done and I definitely didn’t see any of it coming.

This book is definitely unexpected. It is extremely unique and doesn’t go in a direction that is obvious. But having said that, I did find that I couldn’t connect to a large part of the story. There’s a very strong religious component and being not religious at all, I couldn’t really get a grasp on some of the messages in the book. Or put more honestly, I couldn’t really bring myself to care enough about those religious aspects to try to put it all together. However, even with this gap in my knowledge, I still really enjoyed the story. It’s a great exploration of grief and second chances, and it also has some really great friendships and relationships in the book. I loved the friendship between Cullen and his best friend, and I especially loved the relationship between Cullen and his brother, Gabriel.

“To lose a sibling is to lose the one person with whom one shares a lifelong bond that is meant to continue on into the future.”

While this isn’t my favourite John Corey Whaley book that I’ve read (I’ve only read two and Highly Illogical Behaviour is my favourite of the two), I think it brings a very unique and intricately woven story that is full of honesty and emotion. I think this is more appropriate for a more mature YA audience but would definitely recommend it.

Pokemon Go Book Tag

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I haven’t done a tag in months and months because for a while I’ve felt that my answers were the same for every tag. And I kind of just lost interest in answering the questions. But I’m currently obsessed with Pokemon Go and Aentee @ Read at Midnight created and tagged me in this awesome Pokemon Go Book Tag, so here I am doing it!

All the graphics in this post were also made by the talented Aentee. They’re all so adorable!

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The first books that I remember reading are the Disney Classics storybooks. I remember seeing them everywhere when I was a preschooler and begging my parents to buy them for me. I still have most of the Disney Storybook Collection at home right now. As I got older, I read a lot of Enid Blyton and my favourites of hers were The Adventures of the Wishing Chair and The Faraway Tree series. And of course, I read a lot of Harry Potter too.

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My favourite classic of all time is Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. But I’m not sure that it’s really an iconic classic. So for this one, I think I have to choose Romeo and Juliet. I just never get sick of reading it and I also love all books that have Romeo and Juliet elements.

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Made You Up by Francesca Zappia was a book that I actually preordered because I love mental illness books. But there was so much hype and everyone was talking about it that I completely lost interest. It’s still sitting there on my shelf taking up space and I’m not sure that I still want to read it. Especially since I’ve heard that it has a pretty inaccurate representation of schizophrenia.

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I read a lot of contemporary and a lot of them tend to use the same tropes and be reminiscent of other books so I couldn’t really pinpoint one book that I thought was a lot like other books. So I went with Carry On by Rainbow Rowell for this question. Obviously Carry On reminds me of Harry Potter and has a lot of tropes that are seen in other novels, but I still love it to bits! It was one of my favourite books of 2016.

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For me, this is the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson. I’ve had the trilogy boxset for over half a year now and I still haven’t reached for it even though I know it’s amazing. I like to binge series and I just can’t bring myself to read 600+ page books back to back. But I do hope to read them soon!

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There have been many books that have kept me up at night but the one that sticks out in my mind the most is Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I started reading this book at about 12am, intending only to read a couple of chapters. I ended up finishing the entire book at about 4-5am. It was kinda insane.

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I have so many bookish OTPs that I don’t even know where to start! And I definitely cannot pick only one so I’m just going to start listing them now:

SnowBaz from Carry On, Kaz + Inej and Nina + Matthias from Six of Crows, Blansey from The Raven Cycle, Wessa from The Infernal Devices (though I do absolutely love Jem. I just love the three of them together), Maggie + Quentin from the Disruption duology… and many more.

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Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin was fast-paced, action-packed, exciting and incredibly intense! I loved it so much and I cannot wait for the sequel, Blood for Blood, because I know it’s going to be amazing!

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As controversial as this is, I could never get sick of Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter Chronicles. Even though all of her series are set in the same world and contain similar tropes, I feel like each series is unique and really different to each other in terms of plot. And she never fails to give me lots and lots of feels.

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I recently read The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B and was definitely surprised by how much I loved it! Well… I knew I was going to enjoy it but I was completely unprepared for how emotional it made me and how much it blew my mind. If you’re looking for a great mental illness book, I highly recommend this one.

I was also pleasantly surprised by Red Rising by Pierce Brown. I know lots of people love this trilogy but going into it, I wasn’t sure if it was my kind of book. But it was epic and intense and blew me away.

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I don’t know if I’m excited to read it per se, but I do still intend to read the Vampire Academy series which is definitely overhyped. The main reason for this is because I own the first two books already and I want to meet these characters that people are always talking about.

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Even though I own the regular illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, I would love to have the deluxe edition! It looks so beautiful but I definitely cannot justify the cost. And just like Aentee, I wouldn’t mind having the Harry Potter series with the Hogwarts House themed jackets either!

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I have two upcoming YA debut novels that I’m extremely excited to get my hands on! They’re both contemporary and both sound super intriguing and right up my alley. The first is Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner. It deals with grief and sounds absolutely wonderful. Its release date is set for September 13. The second debut novel that I’m really excited for is Everyone We’ve Been by Sarah Everett. It definitely reminds me of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as well as Adam Silvera’s More Happy Than Not. I don’t read a lot of speculative fiction but this one definitely caught my eye. This one will be out on October 4.

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Oh boy, I have so many auto-buy authors. Get ready for my super long list:

Huntley Fitzpatrick, Heather Demetrios, Morgan Matson, Rainbow Rowell, Cassandra Clare, Anna-Marie McLemore, Gayle Forman, Leigh Bardugo, Sarah Dessen, Sarra Manning, Marissa Meyer, Maggie Stiefvater. Should I keep going?

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I’ve been waiting for Crooked Kingdom since I finished reading Six of Crows last year! So I need to have Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Illustrated Edition right now! Good thing I’ve preordered them both already 😀 While we’re at it, can I have Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Illustrated Edition too please because that’s my favourite book of the series.


I TAG:

I’m going to be tagging 5 of my most recent blog followers. Thank you for following me 🙂

And of course anybody else who wants to do it!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Set Outside of the US

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the team over at The Broke and the Bookish. The theme for this week is books that are set outside of the US. The advantage of living outside of the US is that I have a lot of Aussie YA books (set in Australia) that I can use for this list. But I chose to go with a variety of different locations and settings for my TTT today. Be warned: I have a lot of WWII historical fiction novels on this list…

1. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Hehehe I’m so predictable. Of course, my favourite book of all time makes it on to this list. This WWII historical fiction masterpiece is set in France and Germany, as well as parts of Russia. READ IT!

2. Just One Year by Gayle Forman

Just One Year is the companion sequel to Just One Day. The reason why I’ve chosen to go with Just One Year is because it’s set completely outside of the US, whereas Just One Day was set partially in the US. In Just One Year, our protagonist, Willem, travels around Europe, India and Mexico and overall, it’s just a great time.

3. The Lake House by Kate Morton

This novel is set in Cornwall and was one of my favourite releases of 2015. It’s a historical fiction novel that’s set in the 1930s and has a great atmosphere and setting! The writing is absolutely beautiful too.

4. The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

Another WWII historical fiction novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North is set in Australia as well as Japanese POW camps in South East Asia. It was the Man Booker Prize winner of 2014.

5. Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Wolf by Wolf is an alternate history WWII novel that’s set across multiple continents. The story begins in Germany (I believe?) and features a cross-continental motocross race. We follow the characters across the Middle East, through South East Asia and into Japan. It’s fast-paced and exciting and I can’t wait for the sequel!

6. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

This novel isn’t my favourite of Stephanie Perkins companion series (I love Isla and the Happily Ever After the most) but I’m pretty sure that this one is set entirely outside of the US? I think it’s set entirely in France and I really enjoyed it when I read it.

7. Max by Sarah Cohen-Scali

And yet another WWII historical fiction novel, Max follows the story of a baby who was born as part of the Lebensborn program. We follow his journey from before birth, up until the end of the war. It’s a super interesting and eye-opening story and I highly recommend it. This one is set in Germany.

8. The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis

The Sidekicks is an Aussie YA novel that’s set in Australia. It’s a really short read but gives you a good kick in the feels. It’s about friendship and grief and is so, so good!

9. Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

This is my last WWII novel, I promise! In this novel, we follow Anna and a mysterious man known as the Swallow Man as they wander around Poland for years during the war. It’s a bit of a confusing book but it’s definitely worth the read.

10. The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

And finally, I had to include an urban fantasy novel and I’ve chosen The Infernal Devices. This trilogy is set in the London Institute during the 19th century and I love this series so much!

Review: Disruption and Corruption by Jessica Shirvington

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The Disruption duology by Jessica Shirvington was recently rereleased with new covers. Aren’t they just beautiful? I think they’re more representative of the story than the previous covers, even though they were extremely beautiful too! Let’s get into my thoughts on the two books.

Thank you to HarperCollins Australia for sending me review copies of the books. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

DISRUPTION

disruptionPublisher: HarperCollins Australia
Release date: June 20, 2016 (originally April 2014)
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 416
Goodreads || Book Depository || Booktopia

What if a microchip could identify your perfect match? What if it could be used against you and the ones you love?

Eight years ago, Mercer Corporation’s M-Bands became mandatory. An evolution of the smartphone, the bracelets promised an easier life. Instead, they have come to control it.

Two years ago, Maggie Stevens watched helplessly as one of the people she loved most was taken from her, shattering her world as she knew it.

Now, Maggie is ready. And Quentin Mercer – heir to the M-Corp empire – has become key to Maggie’s plan. But as the pieces of her dangerous design fall into place, could Quentin’s involvement destroy everything she’s fought for?

In a world full of broken promises, the ones Maggie must keep could be the most heartbreaking.

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

Disruption was a fantastic start to Jessica Shirvington’s dystopian duology. It was fast-paced and engaging, and has characters that you can’t help but root for.

The story begins 9 years after the US government made M-bands mandatory for all of its citizens. M-bands are a magnificent piece of technology that allows you to keep track of all things in life, including your heartbeat and other vitals, your medical history, your car keys (so to speak) and your money. Most importantly, M-bands allow you to find your true romantic match. As soon as you turn 18, your M-band is installed with Phera-Tech, which calculates a rating based on pheromones with everyone who has Phera-Tech activated within a certain distance. While you can have Phera-Tech turned off, each person must log at least four ratings each month and if four or more ratings are negative, you are taken to a rehabilitation camp because you are a ‘Neg’ and a danger to society. Or at least that’s what the public think.

Our main  character, Maggie’s father became a Neg overnight and was taken away two years ago. Since then, Maggie has been trying to locate her father by searching Neg camps and blackmailing people to help her. What Maggie’s discovered is that the rehabilitation camps are fake and the Negs are locked up in underground prisons and recruited into being soldiers and slaves… all controlled by the Mercer Corporation. In order to rescue her father, she must use Quentin Mercer and get him to empathise and open his eyes to the atrocities that his family is responsible for.

I absolutely loved the plot of this book. It was a really well thought out world and I highly enjoyed how the story unfolded. It was filled with twists that I never saw coming and I was really invested in everything that was going on. My criticism of the plot was that it dragged a bit in the middle section of the book. There wasn’t much happening for a large portion and it definitely felt like we had jumped from doing not much at all to the climax where everything was happening all at once. It was just missing a little bit of plot development for me. Having said that, it didn’t bother me too much because there was a lot of wonderful character development going on during this middle section of the novel.

I loved the characters in Disruption. Maggie starts off as a bit of a dislikeable and manipulative character who doesn’t care who she steps on in order to achieve her main purpose of rescuing her father. She blackmails those around her into doing her bidding and doesn’t care that she’s ruining other people’s lives in the process. However, Maggie’s growth throughout this novel was one of the highlights of Disruption for me. She develops lots of wonderful relationships with the people around her and it was wonderful to see her trust in them and confide in them. Her relationship with Gus, the black market computer genius and hacker, was so funny and they fought constantly like siblings. Gus was so snarky and had a great sense of humour. I loved his role in the book and how he became such a big presence in Maggie’s life.

And of course I loved Quentin, the love interest in the novel. He was just perfection – handsome, smart and most importantly, not evil. He brought out so many great qualities in Maggie and taught her to love and care about others. Even though their relationship started off a bit rocky, with Maggie manipulating him, I really enjoyed how their romance developed and I ship these two soooo much! It was a romance that had my heart racing and breaking throughout the book and I wanted to read more and more about them! And luckily, I could because there’s a sequel!

I’M NOW GOING TO GO INTO MY THOUGHTS ON CORRUPTION. THERE NO SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST BOOK, EXCEPT FOR THE SYNOPSIS THAT I’VE INCLUDED WITH THE BOOK INFORMATION.

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Review: Something Real by Heather Demetrios

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Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Release date: February 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 406
Goodreads || Book Depository

Seventeen-year-old Bonnie™ Baker has grown up on TV—she and her twelve siblings are the stars of one-time hit reality show Baker’s Dozen. Since the show’s cancellation, Bonnie™ has tried to live a normal life, under the radar and out of the spotlight. But it’s about to fall apart . . . because Baker’s Dozen is going back on the air. Bonnie™’s mom and the show’s producers won’t let her quit and soon the life that she has so carefully built for herself, with real friends (and maybe even a real boyfriend), is in danger of being destroyed by the show. Bonnie™ needs to do something drastic if her life is ever going to be her own—even if it means being more exposed than ever before.

MY THOUGHTS

45 stars

Something Real is a wonderful book exploring what it means to be a teenage reality TV star, as well as familial relationships. It’s a harrowing look into the pressures of fame and the lack of privacy that children are submitted to, often against their own will. Chloe Baker has been in the limelight her whole life. She was born on camera and has been part of the Baker’s Dozen TV show since that day. After a suicide attempt when she was 14 years old, the show was called off and her parents promised that they’d never go back. She even changed her name from Bonnie to Chloe to create a new life for herself.  But when Chloe comes home one day in her senior year of high school, she finds her house transformed into a reality TV set and her life back on display again. This time, she’s having none of it and will do anything to not have her life scripted and watched 24/7, especially now that she’s finally attending school and has a boy she likes.

I thought Heather Demetrios did a fantastic job of taking us into the lives of reality TV stars. She’s really captured all of the negative aspects of being in the public eye, including Chloe not having the freedom to wear what she wants, being late for school because she had to do multiple takes of her pouring cereal from a brand that’s sponsoring the show, and having no privacy even in her own home. On top of all of that, her mother ignores her concerns and forces her to participate in the show even though she continually expresses her dislike of it. Chloe’s relationship with her mother made me uncomfortable throughout most of the book and it was honestly really upsetting to see a mother treat her daughter with such little respect and care. There are very few parents in books that I hate but I have to say that Beth Baker is one of them. She forces her kids to be on a show that they don’t want to be on and punish them when they express their dislikes. There’s one scene where she even calls Chloe a name and hits her, which made me really angry and emotional. I thought she was just so extremely selfish and should definitely not be allowed to have 13 kids! It really angered me that her reason for bringing the show back was because the family didn’t have money to support 13 kids and two adults… because she shouldn’t have adopted all those kids anyway.

I thought Chloe was such a strong character. She had the courage to speak up even though it didn’t lead to results most of the time. And she also didn’t allow the show to stop her from having a life. She did have some weak moments where she gave in to the show’s demands or tried to be too self-sacrificing and ended her relationships with those around her but I thought it was all very realistic and I really connected with her struggles and feelings. I also really enjoyed her relationships with those around her. Even though her relationship with both of her parents were quite toxic, she had a beautiful relationship with her older brother, Benny, who’s also a senior at her high school. The two of them support each other throughout the book and it was just really nice to see siblings being so close. They understood what the other was going through and their relationship was supportive and empowering. I also loved her friendships with Tessa and Mer, her best friends at school. I loved that they never judged Chloe and were there for her when she needed someone to talk to. They were such great friends and I loved them to pieces.

But of course, my favourite relationship in the book was the romantic one between Chloe and Patrick. Patrick is just perfection. He’s smart and kind, and it was obvious from the first time we met him that he really cared for Chloe and her wellbeing. He was there for her during her meltdowns and was just such a supportive boyfriend. I also liked that they got together quite early in the book and that the whole novel was just filled with super sweet moments between them. Sweet, swoony moments. My heart was so satisfied with this romance.

I highly recommend Something Real if you’re looking for a contemporary romance with some deeper and more serious themes. The book does a great job of exploring what it means to be a reality TV star and how damaging it can be on relationships and other normal things that we take for granted. The writing in the book is wonderful and I just love everything that Heather Demetrios writes!

Check out my review of I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios.

Review: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows

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Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: June 7, 2016
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 491
Goodreads || Book Depository

The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane gets to be Queen of England.

MY THOUGHTS

5 stars

I don’t think I have the words to describe how much I loved this book and how brilliant I thought it was. It’s such an incredibly funny alternate history novel about Lady Jane Grey and the Tudors and I absolutely loved it. I devoured this in just two sittings because it was so fast-paced and hilarious to read.

This book is an alternative take on Tudor history and what happened during the last days of Edward VI’s reign and the 9 days that Lady Jane Grey was Queen of England. My Lady Jane doesn’t read like historical fiction at all. It doesn’t have the slow pace that historical fiction novels usually do and a lot of the time I actually forgot that this was set during the 16th century because the tone of it felt so modern. There were lots of funny antics and magic involved and I just found it to be a really fun novel to read. There was also a lot of hilarious author commentary strewn throughout the novel and I loved it so much!

The plot of this book is exciting and action-packed, with everything from treason to escape plots and a husband who transforms into a horse daily with the rise of the sun. The story begins with King Edward VI being diagnosed with the Affliction (or tuberculosis) and told that he must name an heir before he dies. His advisor, Lord Dudley, proposes a marriage between Edward’s cousin Lady Jane Grey and his own son, Gifford, and advises Edward to name their child as his heir. The only problem with this is that Jane does not want to marry… and Gifford is a horse… during the day. Also Edward’s condition is worsening by the minute and there’s no time for Jane and Gifford to produce a child. So, upon the suggestion of Lord Dudley, Edward names Jane as his successor and madness ensues because others are after the crown and you really can’t trust anyone in the 16th century. I loved the plot of this book so much! It was lighthearted and exciting, while still incorporating a lot of actual Tudor history. I did find that having knowledge about Tudor history made some things a little bit predictable, especially in the first part of the book, which follows history quite accurately. I had a pretty good idea of what was coming in the story based on what I knew happened in history. But this didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the novel and I still loved it immensely.

The magic system in My Lady Jane is so interesting and fun. There are a group of people called Eðians who are able to turn into animals. Most Eðians have control over their powers but there are some, like poor Gifford, who are unable to control it and turn into their animal forms even when they don’t want to. There are a group of people who are pro-Eðians and have no problems with their existence but there are also a large group of people who believe that Eðians are unnatural and shouldn’t be allowed to exist. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book and how the magic system was used as a lighthearted way of exploring religion in 16th century England. I thought it was clever how they used the different groups of people to represent the Protestants and Catholics and how it played into the politics of the time.

I have to say that there wasn’t a single character that I didn’t like in this novel. They were all so quirky and funny in their own ways and I was so attached to all of them by the end of the book. Jane is a feisty and strong young woman who is not only intelligent but also fearless and opinionated. She was a wonderful character to read about and I loved everything about her. I also really, really loved Gifford, who was portrayed as a little bit of a fool at the beginning but he grew on me so quickly, with his hidden love of poetry and his love of… hay? He was just such a great character and does so many funny things like carrying around an ink and quill set so he can compose poetry… even when he’s in a bit of a pickle. And of course we have Edward. He was probably my least favourite of the three main characters but this was because we really didn’t get to see into his head that much. His story was a little bit underdeveloped for my liking and I wish we got to see a little bit more of him. My favourite side character was probably Edward’s grandmother. She was soooo hilarious and I loved her so much. She’s an Eðian and her animal form is a skunk! Here’s the story about the first time she turned into an animal:

“One of my maids forgot the fruit with my breakfast. I became a skunk and sprayed her.”

As for the romance, I love Jane and Gifford together so much!!! It’s a bit of a hate to love romance, which is one of my favourite tropes. The development in their relationship was just really beautiful to see and I will be shipping them for a long time to come. It’s just a feel good kind of relationship that I can see myself reading over and over again.

My Lady Jane is just such a wonderful creation. I loved absolutely everything about it, from the humour to the characters and the magic system. It was so much fun to read and I can’t recommend it highly enough!

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Bookish Facts About Me

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is facts about me so I’m going to share ten bookish facts about myself.


1. I am a Ravenclaw. The first time I did the Pottermore quiz, I was sorted into Hufflepuff but every time I’ve taken the quiz since then, I’ve gotten Ravenclaw.

2. I can only read one book at a time. When there’s more than one book that I have to read, I get really confused and just end up reading one after the other anyway. The only exception I make to this is if I’m reading a short story collection. But even then, I have to finish each short story before moving on to reading something else.

3. I’ve recently started getting into reading more comics and graphic novels. My favourite one that I’ve read so far is Alex + Ada by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn.

4. Even though I’ve only recently started reading comics and graphic novels, I’ve been reading manga since I was about 13. The first manga I ever read was probably Fruits Basket but my favourite manga/anime/live action movie is Rurouni Kenshin.

5. I have a huge bookmark obsession, especially the magnetic bookmarks from HappyHelloArt. I also have a huge stack of the Book Depository bookmarks too.

6. I’ve recently started making my own watercolour bookmarks after rediscovering my watercolour supplies from back when I did art classes.

7. I own about 700 books (this is a pure estimate)… and I’d like to say that I’ve probably read about 500 of them but I’m pretty sure that’s not true at all. In my whole lifetime, I’m guessing that I’ve probably read about 700-800 books.

8. My favourite series besides Harry Potter is The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, followed very closely by The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare.

9. My favourite YA genre is contemporary and I have endless YA contemporary recommendations. My favourite adult fiction genre is historical literary fiction.

10. The authors who I most want to meet right now are Anthony Doerr (author of my favourite book ever, All the Light We Cannot See), Heather Demetrios (author of my favourite book so far in 2016, I’ll Meet You There), Marissa Meyer (author of my favourite series, The Lunar Chronicles), and Rainbow Rowell (author of some of my favourite books including Carry On).