Friday, 11 December 2015

Review | My True Love Gave To Me edited by Stephanie Perkins

 photo MyTrueLoveGaveToMe_zpsmhhyvozz.pngMy True Love Gave To Me edited by Stephanie Perkins
Published On: October 9, 2014
Published By: Macmillan
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 355
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★★★

Amazon | Goodreads

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins. Whether you enjoy celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or New Year's there's something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love.

This anthology of twelve holiday love stories features very interesting and unique stories from twelve bestselling YA authors. The stories contained in this book are so different that it is impossible to give a brief synopsis overview. The stories range from cute contemporary to intriguing fantasy, so there is a story for everyone in this book.

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell – This is the first story in the anthology, despite it being set during New Year. This story follows two best friends who have been attending the same New Years’ party for four years but have yet to share a midnight kiss. This was one of my favourites stories. I thought the story was adorable and I really loved the characters. It’s amazing how Rainbow Rowell can give me so many feelings towards a couple in only a few pages. I would rate this story 5/5.

The Lady And The Fox by Kelly Link – The second story was very confusing for me. As far as I could understand, it is about a girl who sees a man outside of the house she is staying at for the holidays, but only when it snows. I found it very difficult to keep up with the magical realism element of this story and I felt as though there was not enough time for the author to properly explain what was going on. I would rate this story 2/5.

Angel’s In The Snow by Matt De La Pena – This story was just average for me, though I have seen a lot of people who love it. It follows a guy who is apartment sitting when he meets the girl upstairs. I didn’t feel much for the characters and I found the story to be a little boring for a lot of the time. I would rate this story 3/5.

Polaris Is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han – This follows a girl who was adopted by Santa Claus and lives amongst the elves in the North Pole. However, the elves have yet to accept her. Initially this story felt a bit too much like the movie Elf but I was curious about where it would go. However, this is another story that was just average for me, which is a shame, as I usually love things set in the North Pole. I would rate this story 3/5.

It’s A Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins – Of course, with this being written by Stephanie Perkins it was bound to be one of my favourites. This follows a girl who is attempting to enlist the help of the boy from the Christmas tree lot so befriends him first. I really loved these characters and the very cute story was an enjoyable read. I would rate this story 5/5.

You’re Temporary Santa by David Levithan – This story follows a boy who is asked by his boyfriend to dress up as Santa Claus in order to keep the magic of Christmas alive for his younger sister. I liked this story, especially the LGBT aspect of it, however I didn’t feel any connection to the characters. This was one of the stories that I think needed more than a few pages to be properly developed. I would rate this story 3/5.

Krampuslauf by Holly Black – I don’t really know what to say about this story, or really what it was about. I had to speed read this story as I really did not enjoy it, but I didn’t want to miss any of the stories out. I would rate this story 1/5.

What The Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman – This story is about a girl from a big city who feels like an outsider in her small town university. However, when she meets a fellow outsider, things don’t seem so bad. As silly as it sounds, I initially loved this story because the main characters name is Sophie (which is my name, if you didn’t know). As well as that, I did actually really enjoy this story. I thought the characters were pretty great and their story was just really cute. I would rate this story 4/5

Beer Buckets And Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire – This follows a boy who, following an incident in which he almost sets the local church on fire, is punished with community service which includes helping out with the church nativity play. It is through this that he meets the pastor’s daughter. This story reminded me a little of A Walk To Remember by Nicholas Sparks, which I loved, so it had a lot to live up to. Obviously it was not going to reach those standards in a few pages but I did kind of enjoy it. It was another average read but not anything terrible. The characters were enjoyable and the story was reasonable cute but there was nothing that particularly stood out to me. I would rate this story 3.5/5.

Welcome To Christmas, CA by Kiersten White – This is another one of my favourite stories. It is about a girl who is desperate to escape the small town she lives in. However, when she meets the new chef at her mother’s Christmas themed restaurant where she works, her views on life start to change. I loved this story for so many reasons. There was so much more to it than just a love story as it covered some more serious issues, and to have done so that well in such a short story was admirable. While there was an adorable love story, there was also a further family aspect that I really enjoyed. To me, this was the most Christmassy of all the stories, which I loved. I would rate this story 5/5.

Star Of Bethlehem by Ally Carter – If this story hadn’t followed one of my favourites in the book I may have liked it more, but I did really enjoy it. This is about a girl who switches her plane ticket with a stranger and ends up spending the holidays pretending to be an Icelandic exchange student in a small town in Oklahoma named Bethlehem. This story was not only really sweet but it was very funny. I loved the witty banter between the main character and the love interest, but again this story had an added family aspect which played just as much of a role as the love story. I would rate this story 4/5.

The Girl Who Woke The Dreamer by Laini Taylor – I did not understand this story one bit. From what I could gather, it is about a girl who lives in a society where marriage is really the only option when they reach a certain age. This society has a tradition in which gift are given to the girls during the 25 days of Advent. I really struggled with this story. I think the fantasy elements needed much more than the few pages in order to be explained enough to be understood. I found this to be very confusing and felt no attachment to any of the characters or the story overall. I would rate this story 1/5.

Overall, I liked this anthology as a whole although there are definitely some stories I enjoyed more than others. My favourite stories were those by Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins and Keirsten White and I found the contemporary storied much more enjoyable. Those with fantasy elements, I felt, needed more space to be developed and while it was good to include a vast range of stories within the anthology, some just didn’t work for me with only a limited number of pages. I would definitely pick this up in future to reread some of my favourites.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Haul | November 2015

This year, for the first time ever, I decided to take advantage of some of the Black Friday deals. Though I wasn't brave enough to go out to the shops, I did a fair bit of online shopping and managed to pick up some really good deals on books. I have been relatively good with my book buying in the past few months so I think these purchases are a well deserved little treat.

 photo Nov01_zps6l5lqef8.jpg

Legend trilogy by Marie Lu -
I have heard so many great things about this series, both online and from friends, so when I saw the amazing deal on The Book People, I decided to pick it up to give it a go. I managed to get the set of three books for just £4, which is just over £1 a book! I don't even know that this series is about but I am excited to just dive right into it blind, though I may not get to it until the new year.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan -
I managed to bag myself another 'box set' deal in the form of the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. This was on sale for just £10 (originally almost £35) at The Works, and is still available at this price here if you're interested. I read this first book in this series this time last year but never got around to picking up the rest of the series. I really enjoyed the first book, especially the Greek Mythology aspect,  so I am excited to continue with the series.

Those are the books I bought in the month of November, and I must say £14 for 8 books seems like a pretty good deal to me. What book did you buy in November that you are most looking forward to?

Sophie :)

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Wrap Up | November 2015

It has been a bit of a theme recently that my wrap ups contain an embarrassingly small number of read books and my November wrap up is no different. I have been really struggling with reading slumps recently but I am really hoping to read a decent amount in December, although considering how much I am working I may have no time.

My Life In November...
- I had a great night at a quiz night with some of my closest friends.
- I got a new car!! It was an early birthday present and I am in love.
- I started, and almost finished, my Christmas shopping.
- I took advantage of Black Friday (from the comfort of my sofa) for the fist time.
- I put up my Christmas tree and started to get very festive.
- I watched A LOT of Christmas movies!

Watched In November...
- A Bride For Christmas (rewatch) - 4/5
- Crazy For Christmas - 4/5
- Window Wonderland (rewatch) - 4.5/5
- Naughty Or Nice - 4/5
- Greys Anatomy Season 7 (rewatch) - 5/5
- Christmas Under Wraps - 4/5
- Christmas Oranges - 3.5/5
- Elf (rewatch) - 4/5

Read In November...

 photo November01_zps4h0igkfd.jpg

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling -
So I may have only read one book in the month of November but it was an 800 page book so I guess that's some kind of achievement. I am attempting to power my way through the last few books in the Harry Potter series in the hope of finishing it before the new year. I am really enjoying it so far, even more now that I am reading the books I have not watched the movie adaptations for, as the story is new and exciting. For some reason, though, as much as I am loving these books, something is stopping me from giving them 5 stars and I don't know what it is. 4.5/5

Blogged In November...
- I shared my October Wrap Up and Haul.

That was my month of November. What did you read in November? Have you watched any Christmas films yet?

Sophie :)

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Review | Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

 photo SecondChanceSummer_zpszljrcixk.pngSecond Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
Published By: Simon & Schuster
Published On: May 8, 2012
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 468
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
Rating: ★★★★

Amazon | Goodreads

Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit—everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled—but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains. 
Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve. 
As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance—with family, with friends, and with love.

After Taylor’s family receive some terrible news, they decide to spend their last summer together at their old family lake house. However, for Taylor this means not only being around her family, with whom she has distanced herself in recent years, but being reunited with her first love and her former best friend. As the summer speeds by, Taylor must learn to put the past behind her and make the present count, before it’s too late.

This is a truly great, heart-warming story of family, friendship and first love. This is definitely my favourite Morgan Matson book I have read so far as it is a genuinely lovely story that pulls at your heart string while also giving you that warm and fuzzy feeling.

What I really loved about this book was how well all of the individual aspects intertwined. This was not a story primarily about family, or friendship, or love. Every one of these aspects was as important as the others and the importance of each of these things in our lives was emphasised.

While I read this in the summer, and I would suggest it is technically a ‘summer read’, it’s definitely not your average summer read. I generally consider a summer read to be a cutesy contemporary that doesn’t take a lot of thinking about. This, on the other hand, will have you constantly thinking about what is going on and evaluating your life and the things you place importance on. This book was constantly on my mind while I was reading it, and for a while afterwards as well.

As you can probably guess, this book deals with some difficult, hard-hitting topics. I was so impressed with how well these were dealt with as Morgan Matson told this story with such sensitivity and some very difficult topics were given so much respect within the writing. For a book like this one, the sensitivity and the way such topics are written can really make or break the story and this was definitely done successfully.

The thing that really made this book for me were the great characters. I really enjoyed Taylor as a main character and although she has some issues to deal with, she was very easy to connect to and I really felt for her with everything she was going through. In fact, every character was very easy to connect to and enjoyable to read about but it was also easy to understand what they were going through and the struggles they were dealing with.

Though I have not gone through anything similar to the situation in this book, it was written in such a way that made it easy to relate to. Through the characters, the story itself and the way it was written, I found it very easy to relate to what the characters were going through despite having no experience of it. I found myself able to understand their struggles and truly feel for them in the situation.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and the story, and the message it gave, will stay with me for a long time. I really enjoyed listening to this on audiobook as it felt as though I was listening to the characters tell me about the struggles in their lives, rather than listening to someone reading a book as it often does. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys a sadder book with a great message that really makes you appreciate the people you have in your life.