Bonus Book Review – More Happy Than Not

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And so here we come to the end of all published Adam Silvera books. He has become one of my fave authors this year and I still remain fucked up over They Both Die in the End. I am also happy that there is one more to come later this year (with Becky Albertalli) because I am not ready to be done with him yet.

The last book I have by him was actually the first book he wrote and I could kind of tell that it was his first. There was something that felt a little bit like he was finding his footing as a writer and there were parts of it that felt a little messy at times for me.

I enjoyed this book for the most part, but also having said that it is my least favourite of the 3 books. The ending felt odd to me. I don’t even know why. Maybe because it wasn’t a happy ending but Aaron had somehow convinced himself that it was and that felt kind of sad because his quest to just be happy had ended like that. I don’t know. I don’t like when books end realistically, it makes me sad.

Anyway, this book threw me through a damn rollercoaster. Mainly the twist in it caught me right off guard. But once it happened it seemed kind of obvious because the signs were there. I just stared at the page for a little bit as the twist that had just occurred truly settled over me. And then a wave of sadness washed over me for Aaron. That only got worse as I moved through the whole part of the book. Because it just kind of served as a reminder that sometimes life is just shitty and sometimes you can’t change those circumstances.

This book is heavy. It has its light moments don’t get me wrong, but it deals with depression, suicide and homophobia so it was never gonna be rainbows and butterflies. It’s brutal at times. There are very few punches held. Especially as it moved backwards into the past and then moved back into the present. In fact the thing that triggered the whole journey to the past was actual punches. It’s a lot.

But it’s good.

The characters felt really well rounded, especially Aaron and Thomas, but they all did. It really helped you get a feel for the community that he was a part of and how it would be a hostile environment that you would want to forget in any way possible. Silvera did a great job of conveying the fear that Aaron felt at being gay in the immediate world that surrounded him. Thomas was a great counterpart to Aaron because on some level he seemed to know on a broad sense what he wanted and he seemed to be relatively okay (or happy, if you will) with himself and although Aaron maybe didn’t believe him as a reader you were never really sure if he was projecting or not. And I guess never really found out.

His relationship with Genevieve felt real on some level. It did kind of read as the kind of relationship you have when you are still trying to desperately cling onto the part of you that the world considers ‘normal’ and when it is thrown into a new context it becomes complicated and messy. I liked that element of the book. I liked how Aaron interacted with both Thomas and Genevieve and how they allowed Aaron to be different versions of himself.

I enjoyed this book. Like I said, the ending felt kind of rushed and a little messy which in the context of the whole story made sense but from a reading perspective was a little unsatisfactory. The story itself is sad and happy, not in equal parts but you can’t have the darkness without a little light. The characters are well rounded and the world that Silvera built felt very much like the one that we live in just with the added ‘bonus’ of being able to manipulate your memory. But as this story shows, that doesn’t necessarily work because the brain is complicated and it wants to remember. And also people are shitty.

It’s real. I mean it’s fiction, but the themes and the emotions felt so very real. And I liked it for that. I am so glad that I discovered Silvera this year because the way he writes is stunning and I love the diversity of his stories and his characters. He’s definitely an author you should read. This isn’t the first book I would recommend of his, but don’t sleep on it either.

3/5 stars

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Bonus Book Review – To All the Boys I Loved Before

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And welcome to a major straying from my own schedule that I honestly did not expect, but I was reading Lost Boy and could feel myself falling into a reading slump, the film of this is due out soon and I wanted to read it before I watched and the perfect storm was created and I somehow spent a few weeks reading nothing but book rom coms (none of which I owned prior to this whim) and we are starting here.

I loved this book so much.

It made me feel all warm and fuzzy.

And also I am a sucker for a fake relationship that becomes something more. Which this book had. And I loved it.

Lara Jean is maybe one of my favourite characters that I have sat with this year. To the point that the moment that I finished this book I knew that I couldn’t not read the rest of the series instantly (I have now done that). There was something so nice and innocent about her. I’ve read a lot of books this year about out and out badass women and it was nice to sit with a character who was still a bad ass just in a gentle way.

I mean it felt pretty bad ass the way that she handled the whole issue, however I will say that the fact that Kitty sent all the letters out was kind of obvious to me. But that didn’t detract from the drama of it all.

Like I mentioned, I am a sucker for a fake relationship that becomes a real one and the Peter and Lara Jean one was a doozy. I loved it so much. I loved how it became apparent very quickly that Peter was so much more than what people perceived. I liked that Peter really threw himself into the whole fake relationship and really cared about Lara Jean.

I also liked the journey that this sent Lara Jean on. It threw her out of her comfort zone and watching her having to navigate that and learning new things about herself in the wake of her letters coming out. It’s not that she was naive or anything before the letters came out, she was just a creature of habit (which I am) and this shook her out of this. Seeing her quietly come out of her shell but still remain herself at the core was maybe my favourite part of the whole book.

I loved her family relationships and how they developed and moved throughout the narrative and how distinctly different the relationship between her 2 sisters were because of what the offer her and just the differences in ages. I weirdly quite like how once Margot left the struggle to maintain that relationship became apparent. It felt like life (there will be more on that later for the other books).

We should all know how I feel about love triangles at this point, but this didn’t feel like your typical love triangle, mainly because Lara Jean never really acted like there was one. It felt like she made a choice and then stood by that choice, but sometimes other people’s choices impact you and that is very much what the Josh/Lara Jean part of this book felt like.

I got super invested in this damn couple. I got low key stressed/super excited when I had to actually go to bed just before Lara Jean made her definitive decision regarding Peter and the hot tub and I had to wait to find out how that went down. I may or may not have been incredibly happy when it went the way that it did. It gave me all the warm fuzzy feelings.

Look this book was the equivalent of a rom com. It was exactly what I needed it to be. It was cute. It was frothy. It included some bad ass characters and I loved Lara Jean. It was funny, it made me hungry sometimes…it made me happy. It was just what I needed.

If you want warm and fuzzy then I would recommend this book to you hands down. Jenny Han provides the goods (seriously, it reads so quick. I got her done in like a day and a bit without even meaning to…)

4/5 stars

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2018 Reading Challenge, Book 31 – Bright We Burn

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And so here we are with the final book of this series and my god was this was a book and a half.

Let’s start with the ending, which by the time I got to I had totally forgotten that on some level this book is based in history. Which means that basically the ending is a forgone conclusion to some degree. So on the one hand I was disappointed with the ending, but I think it might have just been mostly because it didn’t come from Lada…which makes no real sense because why it, she’s dead. But I dunno, something about it while satisfying also left me feeling some kind of way, maybe it’s just because her death was like a footnote when it felt like it should have been a hoo-ha, but then also that was never going to happen. I don’t know, the ending left me feeling confused and I’ve still not quite processed what I felt about it.

I loved the book though.

My god did I love this book.

The drama, the politics, the tension.

Seriously this book stressed me out and to be honest I was worried for the health/life of a  lot of my faves. There was a very long period of time when I was convinced that Cyprian was going to be a goner and the way that made me feel. I just wanted Radu to be happy. I never would have seen that coming, but the character development on Radu has just been insane. Like I mentioned yesterday, Radu is playing this game. And he is playing it well. There was that one moment when he was finally confronting Lada where it became really apparent that he knew how to beat Lada and hurt the most. And in doing so also hurt me. Don’t get me wrong I saw the moment coming just before it happened because Lada looked like she was going to get a nice thing and that just doesn’t work here. But still it felt like a wound was ripped into my reading soul.

Radu played this game to win and by the end it felt like he kind of did on some level. He seemed to be the one who had the most growth of all the characters. He was so focused on pleasing others and was so conflicted as to who’s side he should be on between Mehmed and Lada that to see him finally take control of his own situation and ultimately pick himself and his happiness was so satisfying to see unfurl. I just really appreciated the journey that Radu went on.

Same goes for Lada. She somehow got even more brutal. Sometimes the kind of brutal that was almost hard to read. I kind of loved it. And then also hated her for it. She is the most brilliant anti-heroine. And I really mean it when I say anti. She’s almost unapologetic, she’s ruthless, she’s really into making statements and yet she continues to have these weak pockets that can be used against her. She’s all about the power and that is where the difference between her and her brother is. And yet they so deeply care for each other and it’s all just so heartbreaking. Real talk, I honestly almost forgot that Mehmed was even such a key character in the first one, it was just all about these two siblings.

I could honestly keep going on and on about all the characters, there are so many that I’ve not mentioned. Nicolae, Bogdan, Nazira. All of them have really messed with me in some way. Their relationships with Radu and Lada were fundamental to the way that those two characters moved through the whole damn series.

The plot itself was epic. It was somehow slow and yet fast. It really takes you on a ride where the stakes feel high for one party and less so for the other. Where these two characters and the journey that they’ve been on are somehow the same yet different. This series is so character driven and these characters have come so far and have been written so beautifully that I kind of cannot put into words just how much I loved it.

I think the thing that bummed me out the most about the ending was the fact that it was over. And that I had to leave these characters behind because come the end I loved Lada and Radu so much that I didn’t want to leave them. And it ended with one of them dead, which was the way it was always going to go but still. I hoped. But Radu got a nice thing so it wasn’t all bad (seriously Chapter 36 made me feel legit giddy).

4/5 stars

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2018 Reading Challenge, Book 30 – Now I Rise

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This is the 3rd series of books that was on my reading list for this year and was supposed to be the last, but that isn’t happening anymore, but more on that later. I was gonna read this book earlier this year but then I got panicky and realised that I wanted to read the rest of the series straight through.

And I was so glad I did that.

This book was a ride.

A ride that I both loved and hated. I mean, I hated it mainly because it stressed me out so damn much. White’s style of writing is just so damn good and it gets you hooked so quickly and then it keeps you there. And then it stresses you out beyond belief but still keeps you there and then it just ends and I was so glad that I had the foresight to know that I was going to have the 3rd book to just dive straight in to.

I continue to love this reimagining of Vlad the Impaler. I love that Lada is just as ruthless as Vlad was and that she stood by her guns and she knew what she wanted and how she wanted to it even if it was a terrible decision. I love how she continued to defy all the expectations of what is is to be a woman in the world that she lived in and how all the men she surrounded herself with were like ‘yep, lead the way’. I like that it meant that you got to see that Lada has layers, she ruthless yes, but she is not totally cold and heartless. She does care about some people beyond her country.

I found Radu incredibly annoying the first book. I honestly cannot remember it all that much because I read it like 3 years ago now, but I do remember that for whatever reason I found him incredibly annoying. I think it was because he was in such direct competition with Lada and Lada  knew what she wanted. Now though they are separated and so it feels like as characters they have a bit more space to breathe. And as such I became hella invested in Radu and his damn happiness.

Every time he thought that Mehmed was going to through him a bone, every time that he had to dodge the theory of there being a male harem, every time he found himself hoping that maybe Cyprian felt the same way and they could in some way be together and then he had that dashed my heart broke a little bit for him. He is the anti-thesis of his sister and whereas before I found that annoying this time around I found myself appreciating it massively.

Radu plays a game. He plays the game. He plays the exact same game as Lada, but he plays it differently and I was so invested with it by the end. And also I was very invested in his happiness. I was so stressed out any time that Cyprian might be in danger. Same goes for Bogdan actually. So much stress for these secondary characters. Also Nazira, the development of that relationship was stunning.

Like I mentioned, this book let Lada and Radu breathe a bit more, but it did kind of feel like it came at the expense of Mehmed, which was slightly weird just because it felt like we got to know him quite a bit in the first book, but I guess that was due to geography, however it did mean that for the most part I wasn’t really rooting for him, mainly because I was simultaneously rooting for both Lada and Radu even though they were on different sides.

I preferred it to be honest. Love triangles are kind of overdone, and don’t get me wrong that one still bubbled a little under the surface but it wasn’t so far at the forefront and I appreciated that. That being the point of tension between the two of them (Lada and Radu) just felt like it could only go so far. And it was thrown mostly out of the window and as such all the characters grew.

This book moved on massively from the first one. It developed the story line and it brought up so many new underlying themes and struggles for both Lada and Radu that I was so excited to see play out in the final book. Especially after that ending…

4/5 stars

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2018 Reading Challenge, Book 29 – Everless

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So, let’s just get some blog admin done, I went quiet over the weekend, one because I actually got a life and was out on Thursday, I had a thing to do on Friday and then went to see Heathers on Saturday which meant that I kind of didn’t really look at my blog and I was hit with an epiphany to just not post every day.

I’ve been pretty shit at it these past couple of months anyway because it just stopped feeling doable. And well I have the power to just stop doing it. So I am. I’m switching to 4 days a week, Monday through to Thursday and then weekends off. Which will give me a chance to actually write the content for the week and also to take a bit of a break.

Now that the admin is out of the way, let’s get back to what today’s post is about shall we?

It’s a book review.

Of Everless (with special guest star below, my Wicked oyster card holder).

2018 Reading Challenge, Book 29 - Everless
2018 Reading Challenge, Book 29 – Everless

I was excited to read this book because it was playing with idea of time being a commodity and what that would entail. And also it came with some added royalty which I love.

And I really enjoyed this book.

It really built itself up the more that it moved and it became something that I didn’t really expect it to. I don’t quite know what I expected but it wasn’t what happened.

For one the underlying ‘romance’ of the book was not the one that I expected it to be and I loved that. it added an extra layer to the story and also made Liam a much more interesting character then I what I first thought he would be when he made his first appearance.

I really enjoyed Jules’ perspective. It was kind of similar to Mare’s to be honest, although the situations that the two characters were in are very different there were some similar vibes there.

I really liked that you never knew more than Jules because it wasn’t the kind of story that you could predict. So you are almost just as confused as her as she finds things out about  her past at Everless and also the mystery of her father.

I found the flippancy of the way in which some people treated time and the blood iron so fascinating and Holland did a great job of conveying the varying attitudes to time and also of just how tragic the world that they are in really is.

So I quoted the romance part of my sentence a couple of paragraphs ago because it was such a sideline to the narrative which for the most part was about Jules. She’s just trying to figure shit out and make her way in the world and learn about who the hell she is once her dad dies. And yeah there were some potential love interests and there is definitely something that will evolve in the future I imagine.

Beyond Jules I really liked that there wasn’t a non-fully fleshed out character in this book. You could get a sense of them from Jules. Especially Caro and the queen and Ina and even her dad who isn’t even in it that much in the grand scheme of things but is a running thought throughout the book.

It’s been a while since I read this book and as such I have only just remembered what the ending to this book was. It was a cliffhanger that only clicked into place with me as I read the damn thing happening in front of me. It was one hell of a cliffhanger.

There were so many aspects of this book that I loved and Holland has a really great way of telling her story and I loved her world building and everything that was laid out in this book. I loved getting to know Jules and weaving through this narrative and story with her. I loved how it was almost a version of a coming of age story in some ways and how Jules still has so much to learn. I loved the concept so much and how that was woven into the world and made it all seem so real. I loved the characters and the twists and turns.

Where there small parts of it that I wasn’t a fan of? Sure. But they were so few and far between and honestly once you got past the first few chapters that were full of most of the information that you were going to need to know for the rest of the narrative I just found myself so engrossed in what I was reading that I didn’t even notice them.

Which is the sign of a good book I feel.

4/5 stars.

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2018 Reading Challenge, Book 28 – The Belles

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And so begins the actual daily onslaught of book reviews that will be coming over the next few days. And by few days I mean 12. Currently. As I write this I have 12 on my plate, but who knows at what pace I will read books. I’ve been really tearing through these past couple of weeks, so we’ll see.

So, let’s pick up where we left off, which was with this:

2018 Reading Challenge, Book 28 - The Belles
2018 Reading Challenge, Book 28 – The Belles

First of all the cover is all kinds of gorgeous. Not gonna lie it was my main reason for being drawn to it. That and then also the title itself. The intrigue that it inspired in my from the get go was something real. I was so excited to get stuck into it.

For the most part I enjoyed it. I won’t lie, there were aspects of it that felt a little clunky and the ending of it just felt really rushed and yeah there were just parts of it that I struggled with.

One of the big parts of it that continued to be a recurring issue with me as I moved through the book was Camellia. Which is slightly problematic when she is the main character. Don’t get me wrong, I liked her and the way that she moved through the narrative but there was something incredibly frustrating about her because she was so naive. That was part of what made the tail end of this book so annoying as it were. It’s like she just completely ignored all the things that she kind of knew about the princess and just did them anyway. Also that whole scene felt unnecessarily long and graphic in a way that the rest of the book hadn’t really been.

The scene in question is also just straight up murder and while I get that it was needed I guess to show just how crazy the princess is and how unfit she is to be Queen and also a catalyst was needed to get Camellia out of there, but it just seemed to come totally out of nowhere and also could have been avoided.

Another thing that I found an smidge annoying about Camellia was her supposed relationship with August kind of felt non-existent and also it was hard to not see the ‘twist’ coming. And again it felt kind of frustrating that Camellia would be so naive as to fall for that when all she has known has been to be a Belle. I was never really that invested in the relationship as a whole because it just didn’t ever feel like it was something that was actually going to progress anywhere.

Let’s cycle back to the positives though.

Writing style. We all know how much I love a writing style, and I really enjoyed Clayton’s. It created such a vivid world that I got drawn into almost instantly and although it did feel slow at times it was mostly great. However there was a lot of comparing things to food, which was a little repetitive but easily dealt with.

I also liked the potential that this book has for future books. This book felt very much like it was setting the foundations and I am interested to see what kind of house they build because currently everything just feels a little messy and there are so many loose ends, like what the hell happens to previous Belles and what the hell is the status of the ‘sleeping’ princess and how is someone going to get away with actual murder…?

Like I said, I enjoyed this book. It was problematic in places for sure and some things didn’t feel quite handled correctly to me, and also there was a lot of frustrating elements within it as well but I liked it. I am excited as to what is to come.

3/5 stars

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The Cull

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That is a really aggressive title to come back with, but I can assure you that it is all book related and we are starting with a little reassessment of this year’s reading challenge, before I come at you people with an excessive amount of book reviews. Seriously, that is all that will be appearing on here for at least 10 days. I’ve read a lot of books what can I say?

I’ve read a lot of books that also aren’t currently ‘scheduled’ as it were. I didn’t even own a lot of them before they ended up just in my hands, being paid for and then being instantly read. This means that I’ve been doing a lot of contributing to my reading goal of 70 books this year, but it also means that I’ve been neglecting some books that I was ‘supposed’ to read.

Currently my 2018 Reading Challenge shelf on Goodreads is at 75. Don’t get me wrong, I can still maybe do that (even though I seem to be eternally 2 books behind schedule right now and have been since War Storm) but also there are 5 extra books on that list that I don’t need to read this year.

And that’s got me thinking about where I can potentially cut some stuff out…and also I know for a fact that I’m adding another book in there because I can’t not read it right now and there will be more on that later. So there’s some stuff that I don’t necessarily need to read this year…for some of them maybe never. Or at least not soon.

The books at risk are as follows (oh yeah, the list is here):

1) The Grapes of Wrath – This really does not feel like the place to start with when it comes to Steinbeck and also it’s so damn long. I want to read it, I really do, but then also I think I should start smaller when it comes to Steinbeck and this ain’t that book.

2) Legendary – Don’t get me wrong, I want to read this book really bad because I love, love, loved the first one. However, the paperback of this book isn’t due out this year and my Red Queen series is not consistent between paperback and hardback and I didn’t think that would bother me, but it did (and still kinda does) and so apparently I cannot bring myself to get this in hardback. Which is maybe the pettiest reason to not read a book, but the consistency thing is apparently a big deal for me.

3) The Kids Are Alright – I don’t really think I care about reading this book. I can’t even really remembering my reasoning for putting it on here other than the fact that it had ended up on my to-read shelf in the first place. I don’t have a burning desire to remove it of there…I probably won’t.

4) I am the Messenger –  I pre-ordered a completely different Zusak book that is being published later this year and so I might just switch them out. I might read both. I dunno, I’m only sure that I’m gonna own one of them.

5) Generation X – I don’t think I care enough to read this tbh. I have no idea what it’s about, or why it’s there and I don’t really know what to do with it and I’m probably just going to say no altogether.

6) The Crucible –  I was always skeptical about this play, I have heard things about this play. Also I have the second Fantastic Beasts  script already on pre-order so I can switch out plays and be just fine…

7) Sense and Sensibility – Right, there are some classics that I think I am just more destined to watch then read. This is one of them. Which is odd because I love Austen, but I am just not feeling this. Also me of January called that this would get scrapped, so at least I know myself.

Okay, so these are currently all the books that are facing the chop. They are the ones that I do not care if they get read this year or not. They’ll stay on the shelf for now, but I’m not actively thinking about them. Also, these aren’t even all the ones that are facing the cut. I reassessed this list and there are defo some more that can get got. Also, I am fully aware that the math might not fully work out to get to 70, but in my head I have some subs and a couple of other books that I wanna get read which will bump it up (also I have book 1 of a series and we all know how that could turn out).

I will read 70 books this year. I will.

Anyway, that’s where we’re at with this reading challenge this year. We’re over halfway it felt like a good time to reassess.

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