Thursday, 2 October 2014

Monthly Recap: September

This month has had it's ups and downs. I really needed the mini-break away from work and the blog that I gave myself. I spent six days, mostly indoors, relaxing, reading and spending time with the boyfriend. It helped me feel a lot better and I wasn't as stressed afterwards. It made going back to work even harder but I have three weeks off to look forward to at Christmas. The break allowed me to read a lot more than usual. I had more time on my hands and felt calmer which made reading a lot easier for me. 


I read 12 books.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Mini Reviews: Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang and Four by Veronica Roth

Falling Into PlaceTitle: Falling Into Place
Author: Amy Zhang
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Buy This Book: Amazon / Book Depository

On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road. 
Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? (Goodreads summary.)

Falling Into Place is an interesting debut novel, it's definitely made me curious to see what the author does next. Amy Zhang chooses a narrator that I wouldn't have expected and one I haven't seen before. I feel it's important to mention that I knew who was narrating the story before I even started it, having seen it in Cait's review over on Notebook Sisters. I am really pleased I knew who the narrator was, but I'm sure you figure it out pretty early on anyway. I don't know if not knowing would have changed my reading experience at all, I don't know. It's hard to tell, because I already knew, whether it would be clear and obvious or if it would be something that would keep you guessing for a lot of the book.

I feel Falling Into Place has some similarities to If I Stay, it had an If I Stay vibe about it. I think that's more to do with Liz in the hospital and how it keeps getting brought up that it's all up to her. Even the doctors are suggesting that it's up to Liz and her determination to live that will decide whether she wakes up or not. 

Liz was a very complex character, one that it was actually hard to get to know because I didn't always like what I was discovering. Liz has run her car off the road, in an attempt to kill herself whilst trying to make it look like an accident. She doesn't want her family and friends to know that she had given up, that she wanted to die. She wants them to believe it was all a tragic accident. But it doesn't go the way Liz plans, she doesn't die. She finds herself fighting for her life in hospital, while her friends and family gather in the hospital to see if she'll pull through. Liz is a mean girl, which can make her very hard to like at times. The way she treats people at times is just disgusting, at those times I could definitely understand why she hated herself. At other times I did feel bad for her and feel a lot of sympathy for her and her situation. I went back and forth a lot on Liz, I could hardly tell whether I liked her or not. I also did feel like she blamed herself for so much that wasn't really her fault. She seemed to forget that other people make their own decisions, she wasn't holding a gun to their heads and forcing them to do anything. 

3.5/5 Butterflies

I enjoyed the book enough, but the longer it went on the more I came to dislike Liz. I found her character hard to root for and like at times. The story kept me reading, but I wasn't completely satisfied with it. This book did break my heart a little with how accurately it portrays having to watch someone fight for their life in intensive care. The ending was so frustrating though, I was not satisfied by the ending at all. It was all too quick and sudden, I wanted and needed a little bit more to the story and to see what happened next. It's a good debut, I'll be interested to see what the author does next.

*I received a copy of this novel from the author/publisher/publicist via Edelweiss in exchange for a free and honest review and received no monetary compensation for this review.

Four: A Divergent Collection (Divergent, #0.1 - 0.4)Title: Four
Author: Veronica Roth
Buy This Book: Amazon / Book Depository

Readers first encountered Tobias Eaton as "Four" in Divergent. His voice is an integral part of Allegiant. Readers will find more of this charismatic character's backstory told from his own perspective in Four: A Divergent Collection. When read together, these long narrative pieces illuminate the defining moments in Tobias Eaton's life. The first three pieces in this volume – "The Transfer," "The Initiate," and "The Son" – follow Tobias's transfer from Abnegation to Dauntless, his Dauntless initiation, and the first clues that a foul plan is brewing in the leadership of two factions. The fourth story, "The Traitor," runs parallel with the events of Divergent, giving readers a glimpse into the decisions of loyalty – and love – that Tobias makes in the weeks after he meets Tris Prior. (Goodreads summary.)

After the absolute disaster that was Allegiant, it's safe to say that I was nervous when picking up Four. I hadn't enjoyed Four's POV in Allegiant, mainly because he sounded exactly like Tris. He suddenly became a male version of Tris. He wasn't anything like the character we met in Divergent and Insurgent, he really came to annoy me in the same way Tris did. Allegiant almost completely ruined Four for me. I really hoped that the Four novellas might redeem him a little bit and give him an actual POV.

I don't really know if Roth succeeded in making Four's POV better than it was in Allegiant. At times I felt like he did sound more like the character we meet in the first two books. But then he would sometimes slip back into sounding just like a male version of Tris. And then I would get annoyed.

My favourite part of the whole book, and the part I was most excited about, was getting to see more of Four's life before he joined Dauntless. I'd been itching for more of his back story since we first learned who he really was and where he came from. I preferred all the stories that took place before Tris came into the picture. Although his friendship with Amar left a lot to be desired, they didn't really have much of a friendship at all.

I enjoyed the majority of this book, The Traitor was my least favourite novella and really began to bore me. I had to force myself to get through that one, which surprised me as I had thought it would be the one I would enjoy the most. It takes place after Tris arrives in Dauntless and she apparently ruins everything for me because that's when I started to lose interest in the book. That story bored me so much, I just thought it was so dull.

3/5 Butterflies

After reading an amazing set of novellas like The Assassin's Blade, my expectations for novellas are now pretty high. Four definitely didn't deliver for me. I did enjoy getting to know more of Four's story and what his life was like before Dauntless. But I lost interest near the end of this book, the last novella bored me and I had to force myself to finish. Four's voice still doesn't sound right to me and it bugs me the whole time I am reading anything from his point of view. This book is okay but I don't think it's an amazing addition to the series. 

Monday, 29 September 2014

The Bookshelf Tag

I really wanted to do the bookshelf tag, mainly so I could take pictures of my bookshelves. I keep reorganising the two in my bedroom because I never seem completely happy with them. I was planning to do this tag, even though I hadn't been tagged by anyone. But then Amanda from Book Badger tagged me and gave me an even bigger reason to do it. So, YAY!

My Shelves

This set up probably won't last too long. The only thing that will definitely stay the same are the top two shelves. I have fitted over 600 books on these two bookshelves, which is accomplished by having a row of pretties at the front. Then you have three columns of books hidden behind them. I am a master at shelf organising, it's the librarian in me!

Confession: I have another one in my spare room, but that's mainly got all of my adult fiction on it. You'd never know by looking at the books I've reviewed on the blog, but I own a lot of adult fiction.

1. Is there a book that you really want to read but haven't because you know it'll make you cry?

The Spectacular NowThis is a tough one because it kind of makes me want to say all of them. I never know when a book is going to turn me into a complete sobbing wreck. Sometimes the ones I expect to make me cry don't (TFIOS) and then ones that I never expected to make me cry do (My Life Next Door).

Looking at my shelves though, I am going to have to go with The Spectacular Now. I don't know much about that book or what it's about, even though I own two copies. But I'm nervous it's going to make me cry. I don't know why I think that, I just do. I blame the title. I mean, why is it only spectacular now? What's coming later!?!

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)2. Pick one book that helped introduce you to a new genre.

Easy. The Hunger Games probably wasn't my first ever taste of dystopian fiction but it's the first one that was good enough to make an impression. After that I was completely hooked. I hunted down as many dystopians as I could get my hands on and read them all.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)3. Find a book that you want to reread.

I have so many. Harry Potter for definite, it's been far too long now. I have plans to do it but not for a little while now. I also want to get to some old favourites that I haven't read in years - His Dark Materials series, The Sight series, Noughts & Crosses series. I plan to make more time next year for rereads and requesting less ARCs.

Divergent (Divergent, #1)4. Is there a book series you read but wish you hadn't?

I assume this means I had to have read the entire series. That's really easy: Divergent. Mainly because it's really disheatening to read and love the first book in a series, only for the series to get worse with each subsequent book. And the final book be one of the worst things you have ever read. I was kind of glad at the ending of that book. By the end I kind of felt they deserved it for all the whining I had to read through. 

5. If your house were burning down and all your family and pets were safe, which book would you go back in and save?

Can I say all of them?!? No, okay.
Both my Harry Potter sets because they're gorgeous and my favourites.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)6. Is there one book on your shelf that brings back fond memories?

I don't want to keep saying Harry Potter but it would definitely be Harry Potter. Especially the final book. It brings back memories of walking down at midnight with my best friend Kevin and my friend Adam to get it. Me and Kevin were meeting Adam at the end of a street at about 11.30pm and it was pitch black. We hid behind the fence and jumped out of him and scared the crap out of him. I also remember getting the book and reading it till the sun came up, with tears streaming down my face. J.K. Rowling did break my heart about a million times but I still think of fond memories every time I look at that book.

7. Find a book that has inspired you the most.

I have no idea. All of them? I feel like every book I read seems to inspire me in some way. Even the ones I hate. They inspire me to never write anything that bad, haha. 

8. Do you have any autographed books?

Yes, 27 in fact.

I am most fond of my Noughts and Crosses signed books! I have met Malorie Blackman three times now. The first was at the BBC, my first invite to an event because of the blog and it was amazing.

9. Find the book that you've owned the longest?

A lot of my childhood books are in the loft at my parents house. So it would probably be my original copy of Harry Potter which I've had for about 15 years now. 

Slammed (Slammed, #1)
10. Is there a book by an author you never imagined you'd read and enjoy?

I'm going to go with Colleen Hoover. Id never heard of her but, way before I started blogging, I was looking for new reads online and kept seeing Slammed pop up. I didn't really know if it was for me, it wasn't what I usually read and I was a little nervous. I ended up loving it and have read 5 of her books now and really enjoyed them all. I now have her on my auto-buy list.

I'm supposed to tag people but I get really confused about who has done this and who hasn't. So I tag anyone and everyone reading this who feels like doing it. You really should, it's a lot of fun!

In my blogoversary post I posted my giveaway to celebrate 1 year of blogging. I am giving one winner the chance to win up to £40 worth of books of their choice from Book Depository. I am also giving one runner up a book of their choice, worth up to £10 from Book Depository.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My Blogoversary Celebration and Giveaway
Day 21 by Kass Morgan (The 100 #2): 3.5/5 Review
Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis: 4.5/5 Review
Five Friday Favourites: Favourite Book Scenes
My Weekly Book Haul: 27/09/2014
The Young Elites by Marie Lu: 3/5 Review

Sunday, 28 September 2014

The Young Elites by Marie Lu: Review

The Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1)Title: The Young Elites #1
Author: Marie Lu
Publisher: Putnam Books for Young Readers
Buy This Book: Amazon / Book Depository

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.
Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumoured to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.
Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.
Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they've never seen.
Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.
It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt. (Goodreads summary.)

I wish I'd been given this advise.
The Young Elites is pretty hard for me to review, I find it difficult to explain my feelings and why this book didn't work for me. I really enjoyed Marie Lu's Legend series, so I was really excited to get my hands on The Young Elites. The cover was gorgeous, the plot summary had me beyond intrigued and I felt this was going to be a phenomenal book. I read the book and can't help but feel quite disappointed, and also pretty certain I won't be continuing this series. Have no fear though, if you're excited for this book then I'd still recommend it. It's not poorly written and does have a brilliant premise, there are just reasons why it didn't work for me personally.

My main issue with The Young Elites is the same issue I had with Cruel Beauty, and one that makes it impossible for me to enjoy either book. There are almost no likeable characters. There was literally only one character in the whole of The Young Elites who I really loved. And I am afraid even that will be ruined for me if I continue this series. I just can't deal with characters who are impossible to like. If I don't like a character then I don't root for the character, I don't really care what happens to them. I spend most of my time just wanting to reach into my book and hurt them. This was the case with almost every character in this book.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

My Weekly Book Haul: 27/09/2014


Friday Finds is something that was started over on ShouldBeReading and Stacking the Shelves over at TyngaReviews, I am in love with all of these as I love finding other blogs to follow and books to read through these! So check them all out and see what you find, Stacking the Shelves has a lot of participants as well which is great. This is basically a way for me to show what books I have received, borrowed or bought each week. All book covers and their summary come from back of book or Goodreads.

I've had a great week. I finally had time off from work, a whole six days, and I took a break from the blog during that time. Me and the boyfriend had the whole six days off together to do what we wanted. It was wonderful and relaxing. We had a staycation. We spent most of it indoors, relaxing and watching Boardwalk Empire. I kind of lost interest once they killed off my favourite character though. I got a ton of reading done and really enjoyed being able to just sit down, relax with a book and not worry about anything.