Thursday, 21 April 2016

Weird Girl and What's His Name by Meagan Brothers

Description from Goodreads

In the tiny podunk town of Hawthorne, North Carolina, high school geeks Lula and Rory share everything—a love for sci-fi, resentment toward the parents that abandoned them, and Friday night binge-watching of old X-Files episodes. But when Lula discovers that Rory has been secretly sleeping with his creepy middle-aged boss—she disappears on a journey to find her long-lost actress mother in New York. When she returns, nothing is the same, and she is forced to make amends or risk repeating the mistakes of the generation that caused the two friends so much pain. Meagan Brother’s piercing prose speaks to those who have ever felt unwanted and alone, and who struggle to find their place in a world that seems to reject them. 

(Personally, I don't think the synopsis entails very well what the book is really about, but I don't want to write my own either because I'm afraid I will spoil some of the events which might be best to experience first-hand.)

I have to say right away that I have very mixed feelings about Weird Girl and What's His Name. While I really enjoyed the occasional philosophical thoughts and all the science fiction references, there was just something about the novel that I couldn't really come in terms with. Maybe it was because the book is divided into two different sections: Rory's point of view, and Lula's point of view. While Rory was an okay character me, I liked Lula better, even though at times I didn't really care for either one of them.

While I liked Rory okay, I wasn't really able to identify with him as well as I was able to with Lula. Even though personality-wise I'm a lot more like Rory than Lula, the problems Lula was facing were a lot more relatable: am I the only one who feels alone in the world? Is there someone out there for me who will accept me as I am, unconditionally? Where is my place in the world? Are romantic and platonic forms of love equal? Even though Rory did think about these as well, somehow the way Lula dealt with these problems made me more aware of them. The big themes reflected upon in the novel are what probably all of us ponder on at some point in our lives, but these are thoughts that I've myself personally thought about recently, as I'm currently in a transition into the next stage in my life. Lula's experiences made so much sense to me, and that was probably why liked Lula so much.

I have to admit though, that the writing wasn't exactly my favourite part in the beginning. At times it felt a bit awkward with so many punctuation marks, strange time jumps, and the confusing story telling from time to time. However, the more the plot progressed, the more fluent the writing became. Maybe it had to do with the fact that I associated the best part of the book with Lula, so I became to like the writing as the events were more to my liking. Towards the end, Brothers is able to insert some of the most wonderful thoughts in the book, despite the weak start. There was this moment in which Lula talks about the importance of The X-Files in relation to her relationship with Rory. How the TV show becomes a medium for their emotions and thoughts that allow them to discuss about matters which just cannot be expressed with everyday words. When I read that passage, I felt immediate connection with her as I totally understood what she meant. I'm that kind of person too! I also use novels and TV shows to bond with people. 

The references of The X-Files and Lord of the Ring were always well-placed and funny, and I found myself sniggering or nodding to them. The fact that Rory and Lula were such a fanboy and fangirl, was definitely one my favourite parts of the book. I tend to be a bit of fangirl myself, and I loved how their fondness for science fiction wasn't played down. The things that we love do define us as persons, at least to some extent. I'm not as dedicated fan of The X-Files as the characters were, but I have my own shows that I stand by forever: Supernatural, The Walking Dead,  Fringe, Hannibal, Game of Thrones, so I 101% understand the reruns, the blogs, the discussions, the makeovers. Our 'obsessions' can become the salt of  our lives when we become so emotionally invested in them. 

I found writing the review for Weird Girl and What's His Name very difficult. While the book was a good read, and I enjoyed it more and more as it progressed, but I was a bit disappointed as it wasn't as original as I first imagined it would be. The philosophical nature of the book took me by a surprise (in a good way) and I wished had been more of that. Those precious gem moments in which the author becomes reflective of the important things in our lives were the golden core of the whole novel. 

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Waiting on Wednesday #35: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Waiting on Wednesday is about sharing a book every week you cannot wait to be published. 

This week, I'm waiting on

Strange the Dramer
Strange the Dreamer #1
by Laini Taylor


Description from Goodreads

Strange the Dreamer is the story of: 

the aftermath of a war between gods and men
a mysterious city stripped of its name
a mythic hero with blood on his hands
a young librarian with a singular dream
a girl every bit as perilous as she is imperiled
alchemy and blood candy, nightmares and godspawn, moths and monsters, friendship and treachery, love and carnage.

Welcome to Weep.

Genre: Young adult, Fantasy

Pages: 528

Expected Publication: September 27, 2016

Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

I wish I could read this book already now, the blurb sounds fantastic! I really hope this is a bit darker story by Laini, I think she really could pull it off and the perfect ingredients are there already. How can I bookworm resist a book about a librarian who is the main character, and when there is a loaded promise of awesomeness and drama?

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #33: Must-Read Fantasy

Top Ten Tuesday this week is about 

  Top Ten Fantasy Books/Series to Read for YA Lovers 
(In no particular order)

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Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson // Uprooted by Naomi Novik // Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas // The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski // A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab // The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey // Cinder by Marissa Meyer // Graceling by Kristin Cashore // The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima // Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch as a special mentioning. 

127455Not exactly targeted for YA audience, but a brilliant, mesmerising story that can very well entertain younger audiences as well.

Though the start is a bit slow, the world build-up is simply one of its kind, the characters are multidimensional and will stay with you for a long time to come, and the plot is incredibly smart and entertaining as well as heart-breaking. 

I simply couldn't write a post about fantasy books and not mention this beauty.

I gave all these books either 4 or 5 stars out of 5, so I think it goes without saying that these are some of my favourite fantasy books that I've ever read. And look at all those pretty covers. Don't they just want to make you grab them and devour them this instance? 

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Sunday Post #30 - Weekly review

"The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead." 
 What I read this week 

❄ A Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands #1) by Alwyn Hamilton 

❄ The Girl From Everywhere (The Girl From Everywhere #1) by Heidi Heilig

✿ Reviews ✿

❄ Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon 
 Because You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas 
❄ One by Sarah Crossan

✿ Memes ✿

❄ Top Ten Tuesday: Social Media
❄ Waiting on Wednesday: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas 
❄ Stacking the Shelves 

✿ What else I've been up to this week ✿

1. Writing. I'm a very easily excited person, but unfortunately, that excitement often passes a way quickly. The good thing is though that my excitement can be rekindled quickly again, but I do need a concrete thing to motivate me and a small push from someone to the direct direction. This week I got these both down, and now I'm writing daily again (I am talking about writing). I have this forever-project (a.k.a. a novel) that I've been working on, and now I'm getting some really cool ideas to play with! 

2. NetGalley & Edelweiss. I've been really lazy reading and reviewing ARCs that I've gotten, so this week I've pushed myself to read and write reviews, and I'm pretty happy with myself with the result - 2.5 books read and 4 reviews.

3. Food market. A touring food market came to my town this week and I went there with some friends. I hate those places when you have a limited amount of money and there are literally 30 different stall selling the most delicious looking and smelling things ranging from Greek, French, German, Italian, to Belgian. Drool. (I got some Pad Thai and then a Belgian waffle with nutella and bananas for dessert)

✿ Have a lovely Sunday! ✿

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Stacking the Shelves #26

It's Saturday and so it's time for Stacking the Shelves!
Here is my haul from this week:

❄ NetGalley 

Passenger  (Passenger #1)
by Alexandra Bracken 

Description from Goodreads

Passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them—whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home... forever

Wolf by Wolf (Wolf by Wolf #1)
by Ryan Graudin 

Description from Goodreads

The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule the world. To commemorate their Great Victory over Britain and Russia, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor's ball.

Yael, who escaped from a death camp, has one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year's only female victor, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin's brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael's every move. But as Yael begins to get closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?

I haven't been on NetGalley for ages, and when I logged yesterday, guess what I saw. I was auto-approved for these novels! Passenger has been on my TBR since last year (so I'm very excited about it), but Wolf by Wolf is a bit more unfamiliar to me but if you look at the reviews, phew, it's going to be one of a ride! 

Friday, 8 April 2016

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Description from Goodreads

This innovative, heartfelt debut novel tells the story of a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she’s ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

It might be because I kept seeing this cute guy at the university while reading Everything, Everything, I ended up loooved this novel. The feelings Madeleine, the tragically allergic main character, developed and experienced made me sympathise with her to so much. In fact (haha), I kept internally screaming "Oh Madeleine, hang in there sister!!" and making very audible sighs as I read, a rarity for me nowadays. It wasn't only the romance and the intelligent dialogue, but also the beautiful illustrations and varying typologies/formats Yoon used to create this immensely entertaining and moving novel, that made me fall in like (an inside joke, read the book) with the novel.

“Maybe growing up means disappointing the people we love.” 

Madeleine has lived all her life in a sterile, all-white house with her mother and her nurse, while Olly has had a prison of his own made by his abusive father. The way Yoon brought these two people together making them connect on a such deep level through their different kinds of imprisonment, one transparent while the other physical, makes me just ache to experience a similar bond like that myself one day. Olly and Madeleine were just so incredibly right together, and I adored the way Yoon conveyed how exciting a new relationship can be. However, while Madeleine's inner monologue was a bit mushy from time to time, in a way it felt so right as she was experiencing romantic love for the first time. And like all the first things, first-loves (particularly) make you see things in a different light and even act completely unlike yourself. 

"That night, I dream that the house breaths with me. I exhale and the walls contract like a pinpricked balloon, crushing me as it deflates. I inhale and the walls expand. A single breath more and my life will finally, finally explode." 

While the romantic aspect of the book is in the limelight, the novel is so much more. It's about taking risks and making mistakes, and through your choices you find who you really are and what you held dear. You just have to figure it out what is worth risking. Through Olly, Madeleine starts to fully realise that the four protective walls, favourite novels, and movie nights with mom may not be enough for her, not really. Even though she knows that those things are a privilege in some sense, she is desperate to know if there's more to life than that. And who wouldn't? Especially when someone like Olly (a funny, sensitive, and not too bad-looking) is willing to show you everything there is to life. The question is, is Madeleine really living if she is cooped up in her room, when all she wants to do is go outside? But will Madeleine risk her life (literally) for a few days of without-limits living?

"You're not living if you're not regretting." What am I going to regret?" 

The fact that I've included some quotes from the novel should speak volumes - I rarely add quotes to my reviews. I loved Yoon's style of writing and how it shaped the mood and the overall tone of the novel. The novel was full of optimism and sunlight, but without being overly ecstatic, as there was this constant gloominess lurking in the corners as well. For instance, the author wrote Madeleine's house all-white to symbolise how Madeleine's life was clean and pure made by her mother, causing Madeleine's life lack colours, or in other words, experiences. However, even though Madeleine is obedient, she is also curious, so she starts to rebel, bringing colours to her life with her clothes, transforming attitudes, and of course, through Olly. 

I suppose, the book wasn't exactly perfect, though. Despite the fact that the surprising ending was the perfect addition, I wasn't completely satisfied how it was handled. As I don't want to spoil the book for you, let me just say that the conclusion felt a bit rushed and therefore (at least for me) lacked the impact that I think it was supposed to have. Even a chapter more to handle the issue would have made me a lot happier, but I guess you can't get it all. After all, Madeleine didn't get it all either (or did she?). And that's why my rating is 4/5 stars.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Because You'll Never Meet by Leah Thomas

Description from Goodreads

In a stunning literary debut, two boys on opposite ends of the world begin an unlikely friendship that will change their lives forever.

Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Contact with it causes debilitating seizures. Moritz’s weak heart is kept pumping by an electronic pacemaker. If they ever did meet, Ollie would seize. But Moritz would die without his pacemaker. Both hermits from society, the boys develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline during dark times—as Ollie loses his only friend, Liz, to the normalcy of high school and Moritz deals with a bully set on destroying him.

A story of impossible friendship and hope under strange circumstances, this debut is powerful, dark and humorous in equal measure. These extraordinary voices bring readers into the hearts and minds of two special boys who, like many teens, are just waiting for their moment to shine.

I tend to read more books from the fantasy genre than the contemporary one for one specific reason: I often feel that realistic YA fiction novels tend to use a similar template which I often find predictable and somewhat recycled. Maybe I haven't read the right contemporary books, but that's my experience with them. However, once in a while I feel like reading something a bit more realistic and down to earth than dragons and assassins in distant lands. So, since I had heard that Because You'll Never Meet Me is one of the most anticipated YA novels in 2015, I wanted to give it a try. After all, how could not a book telling about a young boy allergic to electricity not be cool, if not anything else. Turns out, Because You'll Never Meet Me is so, so much more than just cool.

First of all, the voices of Ollie and Moritz have to be two of my favourites, ever. Both of the characters had really unique and distinguishable voices, and I was immensely enjoying how their personalities shone through their letter exchanges (which the novel consists of). While Ollie comes across as this a bit hyperactive, fun-loving, yet gentle young man, Moritz is a brooding, proud, yet extremely intelligent person. I can't emphasize enough how much I enjoyed their banter, intelligent conversing, and just the general pondering on world and how cruel it sometimes can be. The conversations of these two very different people (yet tragically very similar in some sense) was the heart of the novel and I couldn't get enough of it, so I actually ended up reading this novel within a day.

Like I already mentioned, Ollie and Moritz were such fun pen pals together, intentionally and unintentionally. While Ollie was the one to crack jokes as fast as he could, Moritz provided the humour through sarcastic comments and observations - both of them equally funny. So funny indeed that I laughed out loud! And let me tell you, I can't remember when was the last time that I actually laughed while reading. Yeah, I do snort or kind of giggle occasionally, but never like this. I was basically howling! I'm just going to include here one of my many favourite quotes from the book:

"When I was born, I was born screaming. It was the same for almost everyone I've ever heard of; if you weren't born screaming, then you were probably born with too much optimism." 

See what I mean here? The humour was just so effortless, a bit dark yeah, but intelligent (sometimes also a bit silly which was just fine, if not perfect).

But I mean this book wasn't just about rainbows and unicorns, oh no. I can tell you honestly that at one point I bawled my eyes out because I was just hurting so much for Ollie and Moritz. In fact, I was really surprised that this very humorous and light read did take such a drastic turn, and turned into a very angsty and dark novel. In fact, at times it was just plainly horrid and shocking what happened in the novel. Even though I throughly enjoyed all the banter and laughs, I also appreciated the darker side of this fantastic duo. Both Ollie and Moritz have this dark past, which will be little by little revealed. Their pasts don't only make these wonderful guys perturbed, but also vulnerable, which makes you appreciate how strong they both really are.

As much as I hate to say this, there was one thing that I guess bothered me, in the lack of a better word. Even though Because You'll Never Meet Me is classified as a realistic fiction, I thought it had a slight science fiction twist to it. Well, what could you expect from a novel about a boy with electricity allergy, but I think the book would have worked very well without this sci-fi "twist". It wasn't exactly a twist, but towards the end of the novel there was a turn of events which I definitely didn't saw coming. I did find it really interesting, but I think it also ate away something from the novel. But. I think quite many readers will enjoy the shocking reveal, which I did too to some extent, but I can't exactly explain what about it bothered me so much. Because it was so unexpected? Because it wasn't so genre-typical? I don't know. I need to think more about this, and maybe I'll come back to this review and try to explain myself more clearly. 

I simply adored the special connection Ollie and Moritz shared and how their innocent letter exchanging turned into this amazing, profound, life changing friendship. I laughed with these boys, I cried with them, I hurt with them, and I was shocked with them. It was difficult not to get sucked into Ollie and Moritz's world and see the world with their eyes (hehe, not trying to be funny here, you'll understand what I mean when you read the book). Even though I have a bit mixed feelings about the ending, that isn't to say that I do not recommend Because You'll Never Meet, because I do!! This wonderfully hilarious yet deeply moving novel has to be one of my favourites from 2015! Actual rating 4.5.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (#34): A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) by Sarah J. Maas

Waiting on Wednesday is about sharing a book every week you cannot wait to be published. 

This week, I'm waiting on

A Court of Mist and Fury
A Court of Thorns and Roses #2
by Sarah J. Maas

Description from Goodreads

Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court--but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms--and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future--and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas's masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

Genre: Young adult, Romance, Retelling, Fantasy

Pages: 640

Expected Publication: May, 2016

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

640 pages?? Oh dear lord, Maas is after all of our hearts! But to be honest, I'm will subdue to it if it's Rhysand who's the one actually doing it. 

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Top Ten Tuesday (#32): Social Media

Top Ten Tuesday this week is about 

 Top Ten Social Media Accounts 
(In no particular order)

And of course, my instagram account!

I have been really lazy on social media lately, but these are some of the accounts that I've been following for such a long time and they never disappoint me! I hope you get as much out of them as I do.

As a special mention, Enchantology has the best taste in books and Peruse Project is so entertaining!

Monday, 4 April 2016

One by Sarah Crossan

Grace and Tippi are twins – conjoined twins.

And their lives are about to change.

No longer able to afford homeschooling, they must venture into the world – a world of stares, sneers and cruelty. Will they find more than that at school? Can they find real friends? And what about love?

But what neither Grace or Tippi realises is that a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead. A decision that could tear them apart. One that will change their lives even more than they ever imagined…

From Carnegie Medal shortlisted author Sarah Crossan, this moving and beautifully crafted novel about identity, sisterhood and love ultimately asks one question: what does it mean to want and have a soulmate?

I'm considering very seriously about buying my own copy of One. I was fortunate enough to get an advanced reading copy, and even though I instinctively knew that it was going to be a powerful reading experience, I wasn't really expecting One to make me cry. The novel was loaded with dreams and hopes, but also with very deep sense of longing and sadness - in a way a perfect depiction of a teenager in an unusual situation. 

The lyrical and mesmerising, occasionally very poetry-like language absolutely blew me away; it me to read the whole novel in one site, in a matter of couple of hours. I was constantly wanting more and more of the tragic yet also optimistic story Grace and Tippi as Crossan was able to write such a powerful message through their experiences. I don't usually care for teenage angst, but the author succeeded in writing the swirling emotions in a relatable and justified manner, and I was on board with Grace and Tippi, never leaving them emotionally. 

The twins aren't described as either sins or sinners, but as real persons with real emotions sometimes being irritating and other times completely sympathetic - and that was so awesome. It is okay to be a pain in the ass from time to time, after all, we all are humans we have different ways to cope with difficult situations. The girls, especially Grace ,was struggling to be recognised as an individual yet wanting to be a part of the duo she and her sister created.

I also loved the honest angle that Crossan took with One. By this I mean that the author wasn't afraid to disclose the equal wonder and, unfortunately, hate towards the co-joined twins and how Tippi and Grace had learnt to deal with all the attention and curious looks they had been receiving all their lives. All the descriptions and emotions were unflinching and therefore so moving and thought provoking. Of course, being different from others was bothering both of the girls to some extent, but I loved the fact how the sisters were also content, perhaps even proud, to be Siamese twins - they couldn't imagine life without the their other half, literally and metaphorically. 

I think you really need to read the novel to really get a sense what I'm trying to convey here about One. The novel was honest, poignant, and heart-wrenching at least in dozen different ways, and I'm really glad I had the chance to read it. I was expecting a semi-light read about a Siamese twins, and instead I got a moving tale of two sister who loved each other more than anything yet trying to find their own place within the world while being physically limited in their goals.