Wednesday, 23 May 2018

TBR | YALC 2018


Something crazy exciting is happening this year; I'm going to YALC!! For anyone who doesn't know, YALC is the Young Adult Literature Convention held in London at the end of July. I've wanted to go for the past couple of years but it has never worked out. I'm so excited to finally be able to go this year and experience the excitement for myself, especially as there are some really great authors attending. 

As there are several authors attending YALC whose books I have not yet read, I have made myself a TBR list of the books I most want to get to. I have already made a start to my YALC reading so a couple of the books that were on my TBR, such as I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman and Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman, I have already managed to tick off. As of right now I have a somewhat ambitious TBR of 10 books that I really hope to get to in the next two months. I'm not entirely sure that will happen but I'll try my hardest.

1. Eve Of Man by Tom & Giovanna Fletcher - This was one of the author announcements I was most excited about. I love Tom & Gi and was thrilled when they announced their first novel together, Eve Of Man. This is the first book in a dystopian series about the first girl born in 50 years. I am currently reading this and enjoying it so far, I can't wait to see where the story goes.

2. Super Awkward by Beth Garrod - I hadn't heard anything about this book or author until the YALC announcements but as soon as I read the synopsis I was interested. This book just sounds hilarious. It follows a teenage girl who is very awkward and geeky and is trying to navigate life and love. I'm expecting this to be a really fun read.

3. The Truth And Lies Of Ella Black by Emily Barr  - To be quite honest, I don't have a clue what this book is about. I read the first chapter and still was none the wiser but I'm pretty sure this is one of those books that you go into knowing very little. I haven't heard too many great things about this book but I want to give it a go.

4. Solitaire by Alice Oseman - I've had this book on my shelf for a few years now and never picked it up. Now, though, YALC has given me a reason to finally give it a go. This is another one that I know nothing about but I have heard so many amazing things about this book, and this author in general, so I'm excited for this one.

5. Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard - Again, I have owned this for years and not yet gotten around to reading it. Sara Barnard is another author I have heard great things about, I don't know why I haven't read any of her books yet. All I know of this book is that it is about friendship and follows two best friends as a new girl at school joins their friendship group.

6. Toxic by Nicci Cloke - This one isn't actually being published until the weekend of YALC but I was lucky enough to be accepted for an ARC of it from Netgalley and I can't wait to read it. It is about a girl who is tagging along on a boys holiday, with a group that includes her ex-boyfriend, when things turn toxic. This definitely sounds like my kind of book.

7. The Art Of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson - Yet another book I have had on my shelf for years and haven't picked up. This book follows a boy who wants to be a girl and a boy who wants to be invisible. I haven't read any books with transgender protagonists so I'm looking forward to finally getting around to this one.

8. The Summer Of Us by Cecelia Vinesse - This is another one I was lucky enough to get an ARC of and I'm so excited to read it as it involves travelling around mainland Europe! This book follows five friends as they spend ten days together travelling around Europe and, I assume, trying to work out all of their complicated relationships.

9. Big Bones by Laura Dockrill - I picked this one up on a whim without realising that Laura Dockrill was going to be at YALC, so now I guess I just have to read it before then. I've heard great things about this book, but all I really know about it is that the main characters is overweight. I have heard that this is a very refreshing, positive book so I am excited to see what I think.

10. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon - I know absolutely nothing about this book but it is available through my library audiobook service so I would like to try and give it a go if I have the time. This is probably the book I'm least likely to get to, but I have heard some really great things about it so I would definitely like to read it eventually.

Those are the books at the top of my YALC TBR. I doubt I'll get to all of them but I'll make a good effort. If anyone has been to YALC before, please leave me some top tips as I am a first timer so don't really know what to expect.

Which of these books should I make my top priorities? If you're going to YALC this year, what books are at the top of your TBR?

Sophie :)

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Mini Review | From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

Image and video hosting by TinyPicFrom Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon
Published On: May 22, 2018
Published By: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 384
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
Rating: ★★

Amazon | Goodreads

Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories to tell and universes to explore - if only the world would listen. So when nerdy classmate and fellow film-obsessive Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a film for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle can't wait. 
The chance to showcase her artistic voice? Dream come true. 
The opportunity to get closer to longtime crush, Neil Roy-aka Sahil's twin brother? Dream come even truer. 
When Twinkle receives an email from a secret admirer - the mysterious 'N' - she is sure it's Neil, finally ready for their happy ending. The only problem is that, in the course of their movie-making, she has found herself falling for Sahil - the wrong brother. Twinkle soon realises that resistance is futile. 
The romance she's got isn't the one she scripted... But will it be enough?

*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

It's time to accept that Sandhya Menon is not for me.
I wanted to love When Dimple Met Rishi and was disappointed. However, I was determined, for whatever reason, that I would love the next book she published. Sadly, I really did not like From Twinkle, With Love. Therefore, I think I have to accept that she is not an author whose books I fall in love with.

Everything about this book annoyed me.
I want to say nice things about this book but I was just constantly annoyed the whole time I was reading. Whether that was down to the characters and their actions or whatever was happening in the plot, something always got to me. 

The characters were frustrating.
To me, the characters all seemed much younger than they were. They were all very immature and often their actions did not seem like those of young people their age. Twinkle, especially, seemed like a young 14-year-old in the way she was behaving and I found her incredibly annoying. There was also a lot of unnecessary drama and girl-hate, which added to the younger feel. I found the majority of the characters annoying, and those that didn't annoy me were not particularly well developed.

Film-making was supposed to be a more integral part of the story.
As with the coding aspect of When Dimple Met Rishi, Twinkle's passion for film-making was much less prominent in the story than I would have liked. It was used as a way of introducing characters and to facilitate some of the drama but it seemed to blend into the background as all of the boy and friend drama became the main focus of the story. It was such an important part of Twinkle's life and, for the majority of the book, it became simply a way to get the boy and reconnect with her friend.

I still don't understand what a 'groundling' is.
Twinkle was obsessed with the idea that no one liked her because she was a 'groundling' and everyone else was rich and had big houses. For me, this was probably the most annoying part of the whole book. She lost her best friend because she wasn't rich and had a small house, yet to me it just seemed like she was jealous that her 'best friend' had dared to make other friends so pushed her away. Also, all of the spoilt rich kids were terrible and she wasn't one of those terrible people, but neither was Sahil who was rich and lived in a huge house. It just doesn't make sense to me and didn't seem essential to the story.

Did we really need a love square?
Speaking of things that weren't essential to the story; a love triangle just wasn't enough. I was already not loving the love triangle with Twinkle and the two brothers and then this random email admirer, N, was introduced and I wanted to scream. I found this strange as it didn't even last long enough to be properly developed. It didn't become a major part of the story as they were arranging a meeting only a few pages after the first email was mentioned. For me, it needed to either be a love triangle involving a more developed email admirer and Sahil, or no email admirer at all.

It didn't need to be written in letter/diary format.
A book written in the form of letters, if only that had been done before! The idea of Twinkle writing letters in her diary to inspirational female film-makers is nice. It's a nice idea, but it didn't work. It added nothing to have the book written this way and it read no differently to a book written normally. 

Overall, I was extremely disappointed as I had really hoped to enjoy this book. Sandhya Menon seems to be a much loved new author but her books are not for me. I found most of this book annoying and much of the content felt unnecessary. I would definitely recommend When Dimple Met Rishi over this book but I  doubt I will be reading more from this author in the future.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Review | Leah On The Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Image and video hosting by TinyPicLeah On The Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
Published On: May 3, 2018
Published By: Penguin Random House
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 368
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
Rating: ★★★★

Amazon | Goodreads

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon. 
So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

I never had much interest in Leah's story. I read Simon earlier in the year and didn't consider her a stand-out character that I wanted more from. I did, however, want more of Simon and Blue. They was my sole reason for wanting to read this book, and there they were as adorable as ever. However, that ended up not being the only thing about the book I enjoyed.

If I'm being honest, I didn't like Leah in Simon. I found her quite annoying and didn't like some of the things she did. Strangely, she felt like a completely different character in this book. Perhaps this was because we were able to get to know her better and find out more about her life. I actually kind of liked her, and definitely related to her more than I did previously.

I didn't really like the friend group in general in Simon, but again my opinion changed this time. That could also just be because we were getting to know them better in this book. I actually really loved this friendship group and I think there was more of a focus on friendship in this book, particularly with the build up to prom and graduation. Leah's friends are all so different and I really loved getting to know them all more, I just wanted to be a part of the group.

Leah's friendship with Simon was possibly my favourite thing about this book. I adore the two of them together, they have such a genuine, loving friendship that it made my heart melt. They reminded me a lot of myself and my high school best friend so I think that made me love them even more. I was so rooting for them to stay friends through college rather than drifting apart like my friend and I.

As well as the friendships, I also really loved the relationship in this book. Leah's love interest is not who I would have expected after reading Simon but I was definitely on board with it. I thought the two of them were adorable together and I loved the questions around sexuality that were raised. The one thing I didn't like, though, was that the relationship appeared to come before friendships at one point, which I wasn't happy about.

My only other complaint was that I wanted a little bit more. The ending was a bit abrupt and didn't really explain how things happened. I also really wanted to get to see more of Leah and love interest following the pretty dramatic ending. We did get a little insight into that but I just wanted more. I could read about these characters all day.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book despite not being a huge fan of Leah going into it. I loved diving back in to this world and getting to know the diverse cast of characters a bit more, as well as catching up with Simon and Blue. I liked Leah a lot more in this book and loved seeing her learn more about herself while falling for the girl she, and I, least expected. It was just as adorable as Simon and just as enjoyable.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Mini Review | The Language Of Kindness by Christie Watson

Image and video hosting by TinyPicThe Language Of Kindness: A Nurse's Story by Christie Watson
Published On: May 3, 2018
Published By: Chatto & Windus
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Pages: 336
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
Rating: ★★★

Amazon | Goodreads

Christie Watson was a nurse for twenty years. Taking us from birth to death and from A&E to the mortuary, The Language of Kindness is an astounding account of a profession defined by acts of care, compassion and kindness. 
We watch Christie as she nurses a premature baby who has miraculously made it through the night, we stand by her side during her patient’s agonising heart-lung transplant, and we hold our breath as she washes the hair of a child fatally injured in a fire, attempting to remove the toxic smell of smoke before the grieving family arrive. 
In our most extreme moments, when life is lived most intensely, Christie is with us. She is a guide, mentor and friend. And in these dark days of division and isolationism, she encourages us all to stretch out a hand.

*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

This is my kind of book.
I feel like everyone has that one very specific type of book that they can never pass up and for me that is medical non-fiction or memoirs. I find different healthcare systems and the experiences of people working within them so interesting that I could read these types of books forever. If you are one of these slightly odd people like me, this book is definitely for you.

I loved so much of it.
If I was rating this book purely on the information within it and what I took from it, it would easily be a five star read. There is so much really great information about what it takes to be a nurse and how much the job takes from you. These are things I already knew, but reading about a person's real experience of their job and how the challenges of nursing made a real impact on their life made it all the more real. This is a perfect book for anyone in the nursing or healthcare field.

It is not for everyone.
Being in this field, I found this book so interesting and helpful. However, I don't think those outwith the field will be able to take the same from it. It is not a memoir filled with funny stories of interesting patients, it is a real, raw look at nursing and everything nurses face. There is a lot of nursing theory and almost academic discussion, which I learnt a lot from but is not likely to be the most interesting thing for non-nurses to be reading about.

The writing was hard to follow.
While the content was great, the writing didn't flow making it a little difficult to follow. We jumped from one story to the next without transition and it was often unclear when these stories took place in relation to the point in her career. This did not take away from the content but was a little confusing.

A must-read for anyone considering nursing.
I think this book should be compulsory reading material for anyone considering nursing as a career. I know many student nurses who could have benefited from this kind of insight into the career before starting their studies. It is a true representation of life as a nurse, warts and all, and emphasises the true fundamental aspect of nursing; kindness.

Overall, I think this is a great nursing memoir for those in the healthcare field but may not be the most accessible, easy to read book for others. Personally, I took a great deal from this book and have learnt things that I know I will put into practice in my own career. I would definitely recommend it to anyone in the field or considering nursing as a career, but it is not a book for everyone.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Wrap Up & Haul | April 2018


April was such a busy month and it has completely flown in! I can't believe it's nearly summer already! I had a lot going on in April but still managed to read 6 books, which seems to be my number this year since I've read 6 books 3 out of 4 months so far. I'm actually really happy that I'm managing to be quite consistent with the number of books I'm reading each month, hopefully that will continue throughout the rest of the year. Yet again, I read mostly ebooks in April meaning my physical TBR is continuing to grow. However, the one physical book I did read is one I have been wanting to get to for years, so that's pretty exciting. I also bought a few books in April after being good for a couple of months.

Read

Sam & Ilsa's Last Hurrah by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan -
This was an odd book! I read Dash & Lily's Book Of Dares by these authors in December of last year and enjoyed it so decided to give this, their newest release, a go. It takes place over one night in which twins Sam & Ilsa throw one last dinner party before graduation. It was very pretentious and not a whole lot happened so I got a bit bored. It was a very quick read but I didn't really enjoy it.
Rating: 2/5 | Review

Cinder by Marissa Meyer -
I finally read it! I have had Cinder on almost every TBR list I have ever posted on this blog and always put it off, until April. I decided I had put it off long enough and it was time to give it a go. I went into it knowing nothing more than it is a Cinderella retelling with a cyborg main character but it ended up being a lot more than that. I really enjoyed it and found the world and story very interesting, particularly is it didn't completely follow the Cinderella storyline, it had an original story at the forefront. I found it to be very predictable and didn't love it as much as I expected to but I'm still really glad I eventually read it.
Rating: 4/5 | Review

I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman -
Gayle Forman is an author whose books I either really, really love or think their just average. For that reason, I didn't know what to expect from this book, particularly as the synopsis didn't completely intrigue me. It follows three people over the course of one day after their lives become randomly intertwined. I didn't expect to completely love it and I definitely didn't expect it to become my favourite book of the year so far! I loved the characters, I loved the story, I loved the writing. It caught me by surprise and I will recommend it to everyone.
Rating: 5/5 | Review

Bookshop Girl by Chloe Coles -
This book isn't published until June but I decided on a whim that despite being behind on the ARCs for the current month, I should just pick this one up instead. It was a really quick read about a girl trying to stop the local bookshop where she works from being shut down. It was fun and had a really great message but it wasn't the book for me. It featured so many of my bookish pet peeves and I wasn't really a fan of all the boy drama. It's one that I can see other people loving but it wasn't for me.
Rating: 2/5 | Review To Come

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty -
I've been wanting to read this book for a while but after it became a TV show it flew to the top of my TBR. It recently became available through my libraries audiobook service so I grabbed it, and I'm glad I did. This book follows a group of Kindergarten mothers and all of their family drama but also involves a mystery death. This book was unlike anything I have read before and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved the way it was written and how the mystery begins to slowly unfold as we learn about the lives of these women. It doesn't sound like much from the synopsis but it is such an interesting, entertaining book.
Rating: 4/5 | Review To Come

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman -
Following it's release in the UK at the beginning of April, everyone has been raving about this book. I have seen so many rave reviews that I expected to love it too. However, this is another book that wasn't for me. Starfish is about a Japanese-American girl who has grown up not being exposed to her Japanese heritage, with a mother who treats her pretty terribly. We follow her as she tries to figure out what she wants to do with her life after finishing high school. There were so many aspects of this book that I really enjoyed - the discussions regarding race, culture and beauty, the anxiety rep, some insight into the Japanese culture - but also aspects that I didn't enjoy. The plot was kind of dull despite all of the things going on in Kiko's life and I just felt underwhelmed. 
Rating: 3/5 | Review

Bought:

The Truth And Lies Of Ella Black by Emily Barr - I'm going to YALC (!!!) this year and Emily Barr has been announced as one of the authors attending. I've been wanting to read her books so this seemed like a good excuse to pick one up.

Super Awkward by Beth Garrod - Beth Garrod is another author announced for YALC so when I saw her book on offer I decided to pick it up to add to my YALC TBR. It sounds like a really fun, laugh-out-loud read.

Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli - I read this in February as an ebook but again decided to pick this one up when I saw it on offer. I'm slightly disappointed that it's the movie tie-in but I suppose it's still the same on the inside.

Tales From The Shadowhunter Academy by various authors - This was a completely random purchase as I haven't even finished the Mortal Instruments series yet. I saw it and something just made me add it to my basket, I don't know why.

I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman - I read this initially as an eARC but with it being my favourite book of the year so far I had to pick up a physical copy. Gayle Forman is another author announced for YALC so I also needed a physical copy to get signed.

That was a bit of a lengthy wrap up and haul for April! I would say that was a pretty good reading month, especially with another rare 5 star read thrown in. 

Did you read any great books in April? 

Sophie :)

Monday, 30 April 2018

Review | Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Published On: April 5, 2018
Published By: Ink Road
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
Rating: ★★★

Amazon | Goodreads

Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin. 
But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.


*A copy of this book was provide by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

I tried my hardest to go into this book with no expectations but for some reason, somewhere in the back of my mind, I expected to really enjoy it. Having read some reviews before picking it up, I had seen so many people rave about this book. I was seeing nothing but 5 star reviews and people claiming this as their new favourite book and I had thought I would be one of them. Sadly, not. For me, this book was average.

I didn't hate it, by any means. There are several aspects of the book that I particularly enjoy. For the most part, though, I just found it to be kind of 'meh' and not all that exciting. I didn't feel like very much happened and found there was nothing drawing me in and making me want to keep reading. I was a little bit disappointed.

Despite there being so many different aspects to the story, I felt as though the plot dragged. The main character, Kiko, is dealing with so much in her life and all of that is explored within the story. However, it was all a little bit boring. I'm not even sure how to explain it but it almost felt to me as though there was a pretty boring main plot and then all of the complex, interesting stuff going on in Kiko's life were different subplots rather than being involved in the main story. It definitely had potential but I don't feel like it was executed as well as it could have been.

One of those "suplot" aspects that I didn't like was the romance. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't like Jamie! He was a very bland character with little substance to him, but he was also just not a great person. I really didn't like his attitude towards Kiko's anxiety. He didn't even try to be nice about it, despite promising at one point to try harder, and just made her feel worse about something she couldn't control. I may have been muttering some not very nice words while reading about him.

Kiko's anxiety is a very prominent part of the book, which I think is really great. While she doesn't let it define her, it is clear to the reader just how much it impacts her life and how much she struggles with it. While the representation in this book was great, for the most part, I did have a few small issues with it. For the majority of the book, I thought the anxiety rep was very accurate and often really related to what Kiko was going through and how the situation was being described. However, there were a few times where it felt very exaggerated or that things were inconsistent. I would say, though, that the representation was pretty good overall.

I loved how important Kiko's heritage was to the story. Kiko is half-Japanese, but has not really had the opportunity to explore the Japanese culture. I think the way this was discussed and incorporated into the story was really great. There is a real emphasis on how much not being exposed to that side of her heritage has impacted Kiko and caused her to feel so insecure in herself. There was also great discussion regarding beauty and how there is more than one idea of beauty, not just the blonde, blue eyed Caucasian models displayed all over the media. This was probably my favourite aspect of the book and I particularly loved getting a bit of an insight into Japanese culture myself.

Overall, this book has a great message and did have it's good qualities but it didn't live up to the expectations I had for it. I found the plot to be slow and a little boring, and had some issues with a few characters. However, I did really love the emphasis on embracing your heritage and exploring different cultures, as well as the anxiety representation throughout the story. I can understand why a lot of people have really enjoyed it, but for me it was just an average read.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Down The TBR Hole | Round 5


Down The TBR Hole is a meme created by Lost In A Story in which you attempt to reduce your Goodreads TBR. It basically involves organising your Goodreads 'Want To Read' shelf by date from oldest to newest, looking at the first 5-10 books and decided whether you're still interested or not.

Image and video hosting by TinyPicThe Rules For Disappearing by Ashley Elston

Ever since that Mary-Kate and Ashley movie where they were in the witness protection programme (which I was obsessed with back in the day), I've had a strange desire to find a movie/book following similar lines. This book follows a teenage girl who is on her seventh witness protection identity and she is desperate to find out what happened to her father to put them in that position. This sounds like my kind of book!


Judgement: Stay


Image and video hosting by TinyPicLove Letters To The Dead by Ava Dellaira

I recently read Ava Dellaira's newest release and really enjoyed it so had intended to pick this one up. It's about a girl who starts writing letters to dead famous people to help her come to terms with her sisters death. It sounded intriguing, but having read some reviews I'm not so sure. A lot of people have compared it to The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, which I didn't really love.



Judgement: Go


Image and video hosting by TinyPicRoomies by Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando

I didn't have a particularly positive experience of starting university so I often like to vicariously relive my uni days through books. This follows two college roommates and I'm assuming just the drama that surrounds moving away for the first time and dealing with the change. This is definitely the kind of book I think I would enjoy.



Judgement: Stay


Image and video hosting by TinyPicHung Up by Kristen Tracy

A wrong number leads to two teens forming some kind of connection through phone calls. This would definitely have interested me a few years ago and I would probably have devoured it and ended up loving it. Now though, it just seems a little bit too young for me. I don't see myself ever picking it up.




Judgement: Go


Image and video hosting by TinyPicIf You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

This is one I remembered nothing about when I saw it on my Goodreads shelf and was sure that meant I would be getting rid of it. Then I read the synopsis and was instantly intrigued again. I'm a sucker for a good mystery and this seems like just that, with so many different elements to it.




Judgement: Stay


I seem to be slowing down a little bit in terms of actually getting rid of books from my Goodreads shelf. I was doing pretty well before. being very strict about what books I was keeping. Perhaps these books just happened to be a pretty good bunch, meaning I saved 3 and only got rid of 2. There are still plenty more books to go though, hopefully I can get that TBR number down soon.

Sophie :)