Review: Sophie Someone by Hayley Long

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Publisher: Bonnier
Release date: May 25, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 272
Goodreads || Book Depository || Booktopia

“Some stories are hard to tell. Even to your very best friend. And some words are hard to get out of your mouth. Because they spell out secrets that are too huge to be spoken out loud. But if you bottle them up, you might burst. So here’s my story. Told the only way I dare tell it.”

Sophie Nieuwenleven is sort of English and sort of Belgian. Sophie and her family came to live in Belgium when she was only four or five years old, but she’s fourteen now and has never been quite sure why they left England in the first place. Then, one day, Sophie makes a startling discovery. Finally Sophie can unlock the mystery of who she really is. This is a story about identity and confusion – and feeling so utterly freaked out that you just can’t put it into words. But it’s also about hope. And the belief that, somehow, everything will work out OK.

Sophie Someone is a tale of well-intentioned but stupid parenting, shock, acceptance and, ultimately, forgiveness, written in a brave, memorable and unique language all of its own.

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

I received a copy of this book from Allen & Unwin for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sophie Someone is a very interesting story about identity and figuring out who you are and where you belong. It’s written in a very unique way and is a powerful story, despite being quite a short book.

The first thing you’ll notice about Sophie Someone is that it’s written in its own unique language. There are words that are replaced by other words throughout the entire book, like ‘noodle’ instead of name and ‘freckle’ instead of friend. For the first half of the book, I thought that this was because Sophie was dyslexic but as the book progressed, it didn’t seem like this was the case, which had me very confused. However, the reason why this strange language was used is explained at the end of the book so you’re not left in the dark after the story is over. I’m not really sure how I feel about this kind of writing. It made the writing really hard to read at the beginning because it was like a code that you had to crack. But the reading experience did become much smoother once I had decoded the words and what they were supposed to be. While I did find some of the language to be really funny, I’m just not sure that it was completely necessary and I think the story was strong enough to stand on its own without this quirky writing style.

I really loved Sophie’s story in this book. She’s a teenage girl who is confused about her origins and where she came from. Her family lives in Belgium but are English and can only speak in English. Sophie’s unsure of why her last name is foreign or why they moved to Belgium in the first place. Throughout this book, Sophie recounts her memories of her childhood, putting together pieces of the puzzle and trying to form an idea of who she really is and why her parents have been lying to her about everything. It’s a very heartwarming story about family, the secrets that people keep hidden inside and what you would do for the people you love. I absolutely loved the story and fell in love with Sophie and her family. I enjoyed the mystery surrounding Sophie’s past and piecing together everything as Sophie was at the same time. But what I enjoyed the most was Sophie discovering it all and her journey towards finding out the truth about who she is.

I’m not a nobody. And I will never be while I’m Comet Kayembe’s best freckle.

I loved Sophie in this book. Her voice was so strong and unique and I felt very connected to her. She’s a very strong character who stands up for what she believes in and will do anything to find out the truth. She’s kind and caring when it comes to her friends and her younger brother but she isn’t afraid to express her feelings on her mother being an agoraphobic and a terrible mother. The characters in this book are definitely flawed. Sophie’s parents definitely have something to hide but they try to be there for their kids and to give them everything that they need.

I highly enjoyed this story and Sophie’s journey of self-discovery. I thought it was an extremely emotional and heartwarming story with some very relatable  characters. I liked Sophie’s special language that was used in the book but I’m not sure that it was completely necessary because it made the book a little bit hard to get into. But I really enjoyed the novel as a whole and would highly recommend it.

Sophie Someone was published on May 25th 2016 by Bonnier and is now available at Australian retailers for $16.99AU.

Review: Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie N. Holmberg

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Publisher: 47North
Release date: June 28, 2016
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 306
Goodreads || Book Depository

Maire is a baker with an extraordinary gift: she can infuse her treats with emotions and abilities, which are then passed on to those who eat them. She doesn’t know why she can do this and remembers nothing of who she is or where she came from.

When marauders raid her town, Maire is captured and sold to the eccentric Allemas, who enslaves her and demands that she produce sinister confections, including a witch’s gingerbread cottage, a living cookie boy, and size-altering cakes.

During her captivity, Maire is visited by Fyel, a ghostly being who is reluctant to reveal his connection to her. The more often they meet, the more her memories return, and she begins to piece together who and what she really is—as well as past mistakes that yield cosmic consequences.

From the author of The Paper Magician series comes a haunting and otherworldly tale of folly and consequence, forgiveness and redemption.

MY THOUGHTS

3 stars

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

Where do I even begin with this review? I can’t really find the words to describe what this book was about. It was just so strange and bizarre and I liked it while not liking it at the same time. There’s magic, baking and Hansel and Gretel elements, which made it a very interesting and unique read but there were also many things that I really did not enjoy. This is technically an adult fantasy novel but it reads like young adult and would appeal to a lot of younger readers.

This book is about Maire, a talented baker who is able to infuse certain qualities into her baked goods by imagining events that inspire those emotions/qualities as she’s baking them. However, she wasn’t always a baker. In fact, Maire has no recollection of who she was before she woke up in her small town four years ago. When her town is invaded and she’s taken as a slave and used for her magical baking abilities, she starts to get closer to remembering who or what she was. On top of being worked to death by her mysterious master, Maire keeps running into a ghost/otherworldly being who seems to know who she is but isn’t very forthcoming with his knowledge.

My struggle with this book was that there was a little bit too much going on. For 75% of the book, I had no idea what the story was about or where the book was going. It had a really great beginning that hooked me with the unique ‘magical baking’ (as Cait from Paper Fury originally called it) and I felt a little bit cheated when I realised, after pushing and pushing through the book, that it wasn’t going to be about Maire’s magical abilities (well not really). Her magical abilities weren’t really explored or developed and I didn’t get a good sense of how it worked or why she had those abilities. These questions were cleared up to some extent at the end of the novel but it ultimately felt very unsatisfying because I expected a lot more from this magical baking concept. All that really happened was that Maire made a whole heap of cakes that were apparently different from each other but seemed completely the same to me. It just felt kind of flat. I also didn’t get a good sense of the world and felt that the world building was sorely lacking. There were some settings that were magical and some that weren’t and I had a hard time putting it all together and imagining what the world looked like.

I also really struggled with the pace of the book and the plot. There really isn’t a lot that happens in Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet. There’s action in the first 30% of the book but then it drags and drags until the 75% mark when the explanations start coming. The only reason why I pushed through and didn’t give up on the story was because I really wanted to know what was happening and my questions really weren’t answered until the last part of the book. It was just a really confusing reading experience that had me a bit bored for most of the middle section. The writing was simplistic and easy to read but it wasn’t a writing style that I connected with, so overall the reading experience wasn’t that great…

It also didn’t really help that the characters lost their initial appeal throughout the book. There was very little character development and I wasn’t a big fan of the characterisation. I didn’t get a good sense of who any of the characters were and I felt that the characterisation wasn’t always consistent. Maire’s captor and master is violent and aggressive until he’s not. He’s then passive and meek until he’s violent and volatile again. I just had no idea who he was as a character and it bothered me a lot. I also didn’t really know who Maire was and I felt like there were times when she did things that were a little bit out of character. She’s portrayed as a caring and loving, innocent young woman who loves to bake but when she was first captured she wanted to “scale the side [of a two storey building] and reach the roof” to escape. She’s not really a Celaena Sardothien, is she? And then we have Fyel, the ghostly visitor, who’s the typical useless ghost who knows everything but isn’t able to help and gives mixed messages throughout the novel. It was just incredibly frustrating and I couldn’t connect with any of the characters at all.

I do have to applaud the author on coming up with a really unique concept but I thought the execution was kind of subpar. The plot just wasn’t very engaging and I didn’t think the world building or the characters were very strong. I did like the concept of magical baking and I loved that there were elements of Hansel and Gretel incorporated into the story. There were also parts that reminded me of The Gingerbread Man, which I thought was pretty cool. All in all, it was a little bit of an average read but I recommend checking it out if you’re intrigued by the idea of magical baking or just want to read a book with lots of baked goodies in it.

Book Haul: June 2016

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Whoops. I bought way too many books this month again. Like why do I even bother pretending that I’m going to be good next month? Cos I’m probably not going to be.

BOOK DEPOSITORY

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I finally did it! I bought the boxset of the new covers of The Infernal Devices. Omg the spines are so beautiful and the gold detailing is stunning. I’m dying! I saw really great review of Underwater so I decided to pick it up too. How it Feels to Fly, A Season for Fireflies and My Lady Jane were preorders that were finally released this month. I bought Something Real, which has been on my wishlist since I read I’ll Meet You There and Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios. I bought Girl Against the Universe after Aila @ One Way or an Author raved and raved until I caved. And of course I had to get Sarah Andersen’s collection of comics, Adulthood is a Myth.

KINOKUNIYA

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I bought the first volume of Lumberjanes because I really enjoyed Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. And when I saw the beautiful hardcover edition of A Tyranny of Petticoats, I just had to have it! It’s an anthology that includes short stories by some of my favourite authors. And from what I hear, the print run has already ended?!

DYMOCKS

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I picked up some exciting stuff from Dymocks this month. When I saw Summer Days & Summer Nights, I had to bring it home with me. It has beautiful yellow sprayed pages ❤ . I also bought One Would Think the Deep because Jeann @ Happy Indulgence absolutely loves Claire Zorn. The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B was one that I picked up to fulfill a reading challenge but it’s now one of my all-time favourites. I bought Stitching Snow because Aila really enjoyed it and recommended it to me. Finally I found Kissing in America and How to be Bad in the sale section! They were $4 and $5, so I picked them up because I’d been eyeing them for a while.

RECEIVED

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I requested the Disruption duology from HarperCollins Australia and they were kind enough to send it to me. The new editions are absolutely beautiful (as were the old covers)! I received Sophie Someone and Hold Me Like A Breath unsolicited from Allen & Unwin (on behalf of Hot Key Books and Bloomsbury). Bloomsbury also sent me Burning unsolicited.

EBOOKS

Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet and The Improbability of Love were both review copies that I got via NetGalley. I first saw Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet on Cait @ Paper Fury’s blog and it sounded so intriguing that I had to check it out. It was a ‘read now’ on NetGalley. I also saw The Improbability of Love on NetGalley and because it’s been catching my eye every time I walk around Dymocks, I decided to check it out. I didn’t really have any intention of reading Akarnae but it was a free ebook on the Kindle store, so I thought I’d get myself a copy anyway, in case it tickles my fancy one day.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Great Books with Under 2000 Ratings

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the team at The Broke and the Bookish. This week I’m featuring ten books with less than 2000 ratings on Goodreads that I enjoyed. For this list, I excluded books that are only available in Australia and books that were first released within the last three months because I wanted to feature books that are truly underrated. I chose books that I rated 4 stars or above as well.

1. A Tangle of Gold by Jaclyn Moriarty (51 ratings)

This is actually an Aussie YA novel but it’s available around the world too so I’ve included it on this list. A Tangle of Gold is actually the third and final book of The Colours of Madeleine trilogy by Jaclyn Moriarty. It’s a wonderful and magical series and this book wraps it all up neatly!

2. Max by Sarah Cohen-Scali (356 ratings)

I love all WWII historical fiction novels and this one was no exception. It was unique and emotional and I couldn’t have asked for a better WWII YA novel.

3. The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry (556 ratings)

I had some major reservations about this one when I first started the book. The writing style was hard to get into but when I got used to it, it was absolutely amazing. I cried so much while reading this and I really recommend it if you’re looking for a book set in Medieval Europe.

4. The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock (1136 ratings)

This book is one of my new favourites. It’s set in Alaska in 1970 and follows four different perspectives. I thought it was so well written, full of rich description and this one also made me cry bucketloads.

5. The Faster I Walk, The Smaller I Am by Kjersti Annesdatter Skomsvold (1404 ratings)

I read this book back in 2012. It was a book that I picked up because the cover was so beautiful. It’s follows an elderly woman and what she gets up to day to day. I don’t really know why I enjoyed it so much but there was a wonderful message about living life to its fullest potential.

6. The Next Together by Lauren James (1458 ratings)

This was a book that I enjoyed probably more than I should have. It’s about reincarnation and love that transcends time. There were some faults with it but it was a really enjoyable read.

7. A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman (1687 ratings)

This is a WWI historical fiction novel with magical realism. The book follows Marvellous Ways, a 90-something year old woman and the relationship/companionship that she develops with a young male who washes up near her riverside home.

8. The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore (1733 ratings)

This is another one of my all-time favourite books. It’s book about star-crossed lovers with a sprinkle of magical realism (or a pouring of magical realism). I loved everything about this book and I highly recommend it. I loved it so much that I haven’t been able to put all my feels together into a review.

9. Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit (1796 ratings)

Another WWII historical fiction novel, this book follows Anna, a young Polish girl, who loses her family during the war and finds herself wandering around Poland with the Swallow Man who has taken her under his wing. It’s a confusing book but it’s absolutely beautiful and the journey that Anna takes is breathtaking and emotional.

10. The Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin (1833 ratings)

This novel features a gender fluid character and explores what it means to be gender fluid. It’s an important book to read and even though I didn’t always connect with the main character, I think this book needs to be out there in the world.


Have you read any of these underrated books and what did you think of them? Which underrated book have you read that you think the world needs to read?

Potterhead July: Dramione and how it’s shaped my reading preferences

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I’ve been a long time fan and shipper of Dramione so I’m so excited to be talking about it today in my Potterhead July post. Potterhead July is a month-long celebration of Harry Potter, hosted by Aentee @ Read at Midnight.

Draco Malfoy is my favourite character in the Harry Potter series, and of course Hermione was my childhood heroine. Naturally my teenage self shipped the two of them and I spent most of my high school years reading Dramione fanfiction on harrypotterfanfiction.com. I remember going to the school library early in the morning and printing off one-shots or chapters of longer stories so I could read them during class. I remember doing particularly badly in science one year because I sat in the back corner of the room and read about Draco and Hermione instead. It’s a bit of a wonder that my career is in scientific research to be honest…

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There are certain tropes that appear in Dramione fanfiction over and over again. And these are tropes that I continue to love to this day. In fact, a lot of these tropes I will actively look for in books that I’m reading regardless of whether it’s fantasy or contemporary. Unfortunately, a lot of the fanfics that I read in the past are now unavailable and I haven’t been keeping up to date with new fics so I can’t really give many recommendations 😦

FROM HATE TO LOVE

I absolutely love the enemies to lovers trope. This was probably my favourite kind of plotline when I was reading Dramione fanfic as a teen. I think the reason for this is because a hate to love kind of story allows for lots of great development (if done well), and in some cases, lots of great banter between the characters. Any story where Draco and Hermione go from hating each other, to becoming friends and realising that they’re made for each other is a win in my book. And to be honest, it’s a fool-proof method. I mean, look at Pride and Prejudice and how well-loved it is.

Some of my favourite books right now have a hate to love romance, like What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick, Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, and Blue and Gansey from The Raven Cycle.

FORBIDDEN LOVE

Obviously Draco and Hermione are from rival houses, which makes any relationship they have kind of forbidden. And I love the forbidden relationship or star-crossed lovers storyline. It’s secretive, passionate and sometimes angsty, which I’m a huge fan of 😀 If there’s a story where Draco and Hermione have to keep their relationship secret from Harry and Ron or the Malfoys, I’m there!

I have so many forbidden romance favourites but two of my absolutely favourites are The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore and My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick. And of course, this explains why I love Cassandra Clare’s books so much! Ooh and The Winner’s Trilogy!

SECOND CHANCES

I love Dramione fanfics that take place after Hogwarts and after the war. And this is because I love a good redemption arc or a second chance story. I feel like there isn’t as much angst in these stories and they’re more just feel-good stories about someone who’s done some bad things and wanting to make up for it. Also I love reading about an older Draco who isn’t as bratty as the school-kid Draco. An additional bonus to post-Hogwarts second chance stories is that usually Draco and Hermione have the support and approval of their friends and family, which allows for a greater focus on the romance itself and not on the little things going on in the background. But of course, I love second chance romances set in Hogwarts too because second chances are just the best! If you’re looking for great post-war Dramione fanfiction, Anne M. Oliver on FF.net has some great ones.

Of course, I love Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson and the romance in Illuminae.

ARRANGED MARRIAGES

And finally, arranged marriages. In Dramione fanfiction, I love reading stories where a new marriage law requires purebloods to marry muggle-borns. Inheritance requirements have the same idea too I guess. This is a little bit similar to the hate to love trope but I like the idea of putting them in the same room and getting them to just deal with it. Or you know, just make out HAHA. I remember reading and loving one years ago called A Dowry of a Single Galleon. I’d like to reread it one day because I’m pretty sure I’ll still love it now.

The first favourite novels that come to mind with the arranged marriage or forced marriage trope is The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh and A Court of Thorns and Roses (which I actually liked before ACOMAF ruined the whole series for me).


But even though I love these tropes, I’ll pretty much read anything where Draco treats Hermione like a princess. Cos I can replace her with myself in my mind HAHAHA XD

Check out the Potterhead July schedule here! You don’t want to be missing out on other great Harry Potter-themed posts.

Wrap Up: June 2016

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I had the most wonderful reading month in June. I read 21 books this month and I’m ridiculously proud of myself for doing that. I’ve been feeling a bit slumpy for the past few months but I’m glad to have shaken it off now. I’m now 47 books ahead on my Goodreads challenge and can now almost touch my goal of 100 books. Only 4 books away!! I will probably increase it to 150 books once I do reach that goal. In addition to that, I also celebrated my 1 year blogoversary this month. Thank you to everyone to sent me beautiful messages and I hope you enjoyed my giveaways! Now on to my reading summary for the month.

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