‘THE BUILD-UP SEASON’ review + Q&A with Megan Jacobson

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In anticipation for the upcoming release of ‘The Build-Up Season’ (July 31st) Megan Jacobson is going on a blog tour to promote this heartbreaking yet hopeful novel. Today, she has stopped off at my blog to answer a few questions. Also, check out my review of the book at the end, and yes, it is one of my favourite reads so far this year!

 

I just wanted to start off by saying that I LOVED The Build-Up Season and it’s a story that will stick with me for a long time! Also, thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions.
(Thank you, dear human!)

1. The Build-Up Season is such an intense, emotional and thought provoking story. How did you come up with the idea and did you draw inspiration from anything?Again, thank you. I work in TV news production at the ABC and I’ve been really hyper-aware of the issue of domestic violence since covering the Rosie Batty story. It deeply affected me. Then a few years later we did a story about how women between the ages of 18 and 23 are twice as likely to experience DV than older women. This surprised me, as most of the abuse narrative we hear involve older women.

When I was in my early 20s I dated a guy who I now consider abusive, but I didn’t identify the relationship as unhealthy at the time because I hadn’t had enough experience to know what a healthy relationship should look like, or what my boundaries were. I was raised on the narrative that if a guy is controlling or jealous, then it just means he really loves you (hello Edward Cullen!) When my boyfriend pushed me to the ground or didn’t like me hanging with my friends or punched a wall, I didn’t classify it as abuse, because Hollywood told me that abusive relationships were black eyes and broken bones – and most of the time my boyfriend was actually pretty nice, and after he ‘lost his temper’ he seemed genuinely remorseful. It wasn’t as black and white as the Hollywood ‘monster myth’ with the woman staying because they feared for their lives. I loved him.

It shocked me, discovering just how many of my friends also experienced similar abuse in their early relationships. These are strong, confident, smart women. We didn’t see ourselves in the cowering, quiet archetypes we’d seen abuse victims depicted as in movies, so we didn’t see our own relationships as abusive. This is why I wanted to make Ily strong and feisty – to show how it can happen to anyone. I wanted to show Troy as the extreme end-point to violent behavior, but mostly I wanted to show the early signs, so that young women can identify what to look out for, and to identify what is and isn’t healthy in a relationship. I wanted to show the insidious way abuse ‘builds up’.

2. What was your writing process for The Build-Up Season? Was it different or similar to when you wrote Yellow?

The Build-Up Season was slightly easier, just because by then I’d already written one book, so in those moments I was despairing whether I could ever finish it, I had the confidence to keep going, because I knew I’d done it before.

With both books I had a few key characters in my head, and I wanted to discover the stories they fit into. I always start with the characters coming to me, then I have to follow them to see where they want to take me. Kirra was a quiet girl in a shadow who wanted me to follow her, Ily grabbed me with both hands, sticking her tongue out at me and not letting go as she dragged me along with her.

With both books I sat with the characters for ages, coaxing them to them talk to me, until I knew their stories. Then I’d start plotting the key scenes on index cards, and jotting sentences and imagery down on pages and pages of notes. Only once all of this has been done do I then start to actually write, and generally I write pretty quickly after the long marinating process.

So Iliad popped up in my consciousness and I actually wanted to write a completely different story with a different character, but she wouldn’t go away, so I had to abandon that original story to listen to her. I knew she had this fierce, defiant, vulnerable energy, and I knew her mum was a hippy, and I knew her name was ‘Iliad’, but I didn’t know why she would be called that. Sure, her mum was a hippy so would give her an unconventional name, but Eve is more likely to call a kid ‘Saffron’ or ‘Amethyst’ or something. It really confused me, but I knew in my bones that THAT was the character’s name. So I decided to explore it. I bought the book, Homer’s ‘The Iliad’ and read it, and it’s a story of the Trojan war, so it really fit this girl, who had this palpable sort of anger and fighting within her, but it still didn’t explain why her hippy mum would call her baby that.

Then I read the introduction to The Iliad, which gives context on the book. I learnt that ‘Ilium’ was the ancient Greek city of Troy, and that ‘Iliad’ means ‘in relation to Troy’. That was my ‘Ah ha!’ moment. I wondered, why would a child be called ‘in relation to Troy’? Who is Troy? And what kind of man would insist his child be named after him? That’s what began the story.

3. After reading The Build-Up Season I definitely want to pick up Yellow soon. Do you have a favourite?

DON’T MAKE ME CHOOSE BETWEEN MY BABIES this isn’t Sophie’s Choice.

4. When did you start writing novels? Is it something that you’ve always wanted to do? What drew you to write young adult fiction?

Yellow is actually the first novel I’ve ever tried to write, there are no discarded manuscripts in my top drawer, but I’ve always wanted to be a novelist. I’d written short stories and poems ever since I learnt to spell, and then my first job after graduating was as a script assistant, then script storyliner, for a TV soap. That taught me so much about character, story and structure, and the importance of editing. My short stories were always about teenagers, but I strangely didn’t realise I was writing Young Adult. Those were just the ages of the characters who came to me. I was fascinated by that age, where people are finding themselves and discovering their own truths for the first time. Later I got work at the ABC teen drama ‘Dance Academy’ and it was better than any adult show I had ever written for. It was such a brilliant experience and it reminded me of how much I loved writing for that age group.

(okay, I just read this answer and OMG ‘Dance Academy’ is one of my favourite TV shows of all time! Okay, continue with the Q&A).

5. Do you read YA too? What are some of your favourite books?

Of course! My very favourite is ‘The Bell Jar’ by Sylvia Plath, which is both a literary classic and I’d say young adult, or at least new adult. Same with ‘Catcher in the Rye’. Cath Crowley’s ‘Graffitti Moon’ is pure poetry, as is anything written by Laini Taylor. Markus Zusak’s ‘The Book Thief’ always makes me howl, even though every time I read it I know what’s coming. A sucker-punch is still a sucker-punch. Melina Marchetta’s ‘Looking for Alibrandi’ was the first Oz YA I ever read, and it’s been a favourite since. It was wonderful to see my own world depicted in print, and I quickly sought out and devoured Nick Earls’ ’48 Shades of Brown’ soon after. Sophie Hardcastle is a brilliant new talent who’s going to be a favourite for years to come. Kirsty Eager’s ‘Summer Skin’ is a masterpiece. Gah, there are so many more I want to list! In short, yes. Yes I do read YA, especially Australian YA.

(Um, I think we’re the same person!)

6. Ily is both a complex and relatable character who experiences a lot prior to and throughout the course of the novel. Is it important for you to write characters with a lot of depth and who a wide range of people can relate to?

Absolutely, I want to explore the emotional truths of every character I write. Ily might be angry and defensive, but it was the only way she could possibly be, with her background. I wrote it from instinct, but afterwards, to ensure I’d been sensitive to the topic, and to ensure I’d portrayed her accurately, I researched the impact of violent homes on children. It was uncanny, how all the traits listed in my research were present in Ily – the poor grades, the acting out, the withdrawal from friends, the finding herself in an abusive relationship. By making it first person, I wanted to show why she was acting in this way, and for the audience to understand her actions. I wanted to show that even though her words could come across as uncaring, she did care, deeply, and she shows this with her actions. She’s always trying to protect those around her, even though she tries to act like she doesn’t give a damn. We realise that her thorny words are just the protective shell she’s built around herself. I also have Indigenous nieces, nephews and great nephews, and they rarely get to see themselves in our stories. I wanted to create a character in Max which accurately portrays the Indigenous families I know, their humour, their strong sense of family, their connection to the land and their pride in their culture.

7. The Build-Up Season is set in Darwin and Ily visits a lot of sites throughout the story. Is there any specific reason you set the story in Darwin? Did including these sites help bring the story to life?

I always need to have a connection to the landscapes of all my stories. I feel such a pull towards the outdoors, and so the landscapes become almost characters in themselves. I spent my childhood in Darwin, and my sister and my nieces, nephews and great nephews still live, and the harsh beauty of the top end tugs at my soul. I wanted the weather to be a metaphor for the book, the relationship starts in the Dry Season, when it’s all endless sunny, blue-sky days, then as The Build-Up Season begins, so does the build up of bad behaviour. The air starts to tighten with humidity and it becomes more and more oppressive, and then the heat grips you like nothing else. This story couldn’t have been set in any other place.

Thank you so much again for taking the time to answer my questions!

You’re welcome, thanks for having me!

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And now for my review which ended up being a lot more detailed than anticipated because I had so many thoughts when I finished reading it a few weeks ago!

Illiad is a fierce and complex character who has experienced a lot in her seventeen years of life. I didn’t expect Illy’s path to go the way it went, after seeing the way her father treated her mother for so many years. But it was definitely a learning curve for Illy and me as a reader. It really showed how people can go through highs and lows despite appearing as strong and together. It was tough to read what she was going through and her thoughts, but I think it’s an integral story.

Domestic violence and violent relationships is a main topic in this book, and I was grateful to see this spoken about in a YA book. It is a massive issues that I’m sure a lot of people face, but it isn’t often that we get to read about it or educate ourselves on the issue and importance of respectful relationships. It was tough to read at times, and quite confronting, but I am so glad that Megan spoke about the topic in such a raw and authentic way. It was emotional, I had goosebumps and came close to tears, but it was real.

I had my doubts about Jared from the beginning. Eventually, I realised the importance that his character has to the story and the lesson in Illy’s life, it made me appreciate the story so much more. Max is the opposite to Jared and brings a lot of light to the story throughout, however, Illy doesn’t notice this. She’s blinded by Jared; and I think this is something that a lot of people can relate to.

Megan’s writing style is simple and casual, which made the book easy to read. I finished it in a couple hours not only because it’s short, but I couldn’t stop reading it. I also love reading books set in Australia (YAY for #LOVEOZYA) and even though I’ve never been to Darwin, it was so cool to learn more about it.

Overall, this is an incredible story about a troubled teen who doesn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps, but is finding it harder than imaginable. I went on a roller coaster of emotions, but those are always my favourite stories! I highly recommend picking up THE BUILD-UP SEASON. This is up there with my favourite books of 2017 so far.

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editing my WIP: the second and third and fourth draft

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If you read my previous blog post on my writing journey, you would know that in April I started working on a new novel which I finished the first draft of during June. You can check out that blog post here ->  https://alwaysandforeverreading.wordpress.com/2017/07/09/i-started-writing-a-new-novel/ 

Today, I’m going to be discussing the editing process I used to edit the first draft and the ones after. I’m currently on draft 4, and I still have a loooooooong way to go.

So mid June was when I finished writing the first draft and I planned on putting it down until July where I would use Camp Nanowrimo to motivate me to get some editing done. However, I was just so excited to continue working on it and making it better, I only put it down for the weekend before digging right back into it.

I’ve written two drafts for novels before, but I only started editing one of them, so I’ve never actually got this far into the “writing a novel” stage before. The way that I went about it was a bit dysfunctional and I kind of just played it by ear.

Step by step of what I (somewhat) began editing the first draft from mid to end June

  1. Used the printing balance from last semester at uni that I never used to print out all 350 (175 double sided) pages
  2. I read through the manuscript without making any marks. This was very painful
  3. I read through it again, this time marking small things that I could pick up on, i.e. description, dialogue, things to research, plot holes, lines to change, lines to remove, etc.
  4. During my third read through, I used a different highlighter and put ticks next to the sections/paragraphs that I loved and didn’t want to change at this point in time. Mind you, this was a very small percentage of the total manuscript
  5. Then, the scary bit. Opening the document on my computer and actually making the changes. I actually thought that this was going to take the longest time, but I finished it in three days. The first two days were slow progress, but the third day was when inspiration struck and I stayed up until midnight just editing. That’s never happened before!

Once I finished that, I counted it as my first draft. I finished fixing the small errors that I could pick up on and thought of some major changes that I wanted to make later.

As I wrote my third draft, I changed some major plot “problems” I had or things that I wasn’t too sure about. Because my novel is told from the perspective of four characters who all have their own individual stories, I noticed that it all got a bit confusing at times because there was so much going on. To fix this, I got rid of one minor story lines or plot from each characters story that I thought was either in the way or didn’t add to the story. I thought this was going to take a long time, but I actually did it in about 1-2 days. Why can’t I be in this mood all the time?

I then went and made a major structural change to the story. Each of the characters take turns telling their story within each chapter. However, whenever there was a chapter that all four characters were present, it was very repetitive and just sounded bad in general. So I came to the decision that I would rewrite these chapters and instead of having four first person POV’s, there would just be one third person POV. I can’t really explain it well without giving details on the story (which I don’t really want to do yet) but it makes more sense if you knew the details. Anyway, I think I like it better like this, but I want to grab some second opinions first. I also cut so many words when I did this. My first draft was about 87000 words but the fourth draft was about 73000!

And then when I went on to my fourth draft and fixed my writing. I didn’t really have a plan for this, all I did really was read through my manuscript, get rid of lines I didn’t like, change some, and add some more. I did a lot of this in cafes over a few days which I have never done before, but I plan on doing it more often. I guess when I’m out, there’s less distractions or excuses for me to get up and do other things.

My novel has come a long way, but there is still so much more to do. I’m happy with the story and the characters and writing for now. I’ve sent it off to three beta readers to get their feedback and see what I can do to improve it. This is really nerve racking because I’ve never had anyone read any of my books before, and this one is on such an honest and raw topic which only makes it scarier! But I look forward to hearing what they think.

 

And now I’m going to share a bit more of my story with you.

Character of the day:

Becky is the best friend of one of the characters. She’s popular, a party girl, and always up for some fun. Be she is always there for her friends (especially the mc when she needs her), she’s kind and loyal. I didn’t expect her to be a vital part of one of the mc’s story, so she was definitely a surprise.

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Song/chapter title of the day:

Chapter Two: Living Funeral by Dance Yourself to Death

 

 

FRIDAY FAVOURITES: best books I’ve read in 2017 so far (January-June)

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Welcome back to Friday Favourites – something that I haven’t done in a long time. Since we’re past the mid year point, I’ve decided to list the top ten books I’ve read so far in 2017 (from January 1 to June 30). I’ve listed them roughly from tenth place to first, but I really LOVED all of these books!

 

10. Milk and Honey - Rupi Kaur

This is the first poetry collection that I’ve read, and I loved it. I decided to tag my favourite poems with sticky notes… which ended up being half of the book. The themes and messages, along with Rupi’s graceful worlds made this so easy to fly through.

Milk and Honey

9. The Infernal Devices - Cassandra Clare

I read The Mortal Instruments last year and as much as I liked it, I hadn’t been motivated to pick up The Infernal devices because I haven’t really been in a fantasy mood this year. But when I did read it, I surprisingly loved it (maybe even more than TMI). That ending though! And Will ❤

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1)

8. Simon vs the Homo-Sapiens Agenda - Becky Albertalli

After hearing the hype for the upcoming movie adaptation (and the book itself) I finally decided to pick this up. It was such a fun and adorable read with so many great characters. And I cannot wait for the movie to come out because there are so many amazing actors playing these amazing characters.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

7. Girl in Pieces - Kathleen Gasglow

This is a really dark and emotional read, but those have been my favourite to read recently. Charlie has been through a lot in her life, as we see in the beginning and throughout the book, but seeing her overcome all of it was one of the best aspects of the story. It focused on mental health and character development, with little to no romance which I loved.

Girl in Pieces

6. Wing Jones - Katherine Webber

This book covered such a wide range of topics; grief, family, friendships, relationships and so much more. I’ve read a lot of books about grief this year (most of them have ended up on this list) but what I loved about this one is how Wing turns to running to clear her head. Out of the gazillion hobbies that are mentioned in YA, I’ve never read a character who enjoys running (I know I don’t…).
Review: https://alwaysandforeverreading.wordpress.com/2017/03/21/wing-jones/

Wing Jones

5. Countless - Karen Gregory

Another dark and emotion story with light at the other end of the tunnel. Hedda has an eating disorder and decides to put it on “hold” when she falls pregnant. This focuses on the story of Hedda’s ups and downs, recover, and raising her baby and once again, with little romance. I did cry…
Review: https://alwaysandforeverreading.wordpress.com/2017/06/13/countless-karen-gregory/

Countless

4. The Upside of Unrequited - Becky Albertalli

Yes, I have both of Becky’s books on this list, and for good reason. I read this one before Simon and I think I enjoyed it a little bit more. There was such a diverse range of characters, which I loved every single one of, and the story line was so adorable and fun and the romance was so cute!
Review: https://alwaysandforeverreading.wordpress.com/2017/05/12/the-upside-of-unrequited-becky-albertalli/

The Upside of Unrequited

3. Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index - Julie Israel

When I picked this up, I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. But I ended up finishing it in one night because I couldn’t put it down. It focuses on grief, a bit of mystery, a bit of romance, growing friendships and so much more. It was such an emotional and touching book and I just loved it.
Review:

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index

2. Always and Forever, Lara Jean - Jenny Han

A beautiful and adorable and perfect ending to my favourite contemporary series. I really didn’t want it to end. I could honestly read a million books about Lara Jean and Peter and the rest of the incredible characters. There were so many ups and downs in the story, and I felt very tense at some points, but it was a beautiful ending.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #3)

1. Love Letters to the Dead - Ava Dellaira

Not only is this the best book I’ve read this year, but I think it might even be my favourite book of all time!?! I was hooked from the first page, I cried, and I fell in love with the characters and every part of it. Laurel is grieving the loss of her sister and writes letters to dead famous people, and this is how the story is told. There are so many ups and downs in the story, along with a whole range of topics. There was only a little bit of romance and I loved how it was handled in such a delicate manner. I only read this in March but I already want to read it again.

Love Letters to the Dead

 

What’s the best book that you’ve read so far this year?

 

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TAG TUESDAY: mid year book freak out

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BEST BOOK YOU'VE READ SO FAR IN 2017

Love Letters to the Dead – Ava Dellaira
Not only is this the best book I’ve read this year, but I think it might even be my favourite book of all time!?! I was hooked from the first page, I cried, and I fell in love with the characters and every part of it. Laurel is grieving the loss of her sister and writes letters to dead famous people, and this is how the story is told. There are so many ups and downs in the story, along with a whole range of topics. There was only a little bit of romance and I loved how it was handled in such a delicate manner. I only read this in March but I already want to read it again.

Love Letters to the Dead

BEST SEQUEL YOU'VE READ SO FAR IN 2017

Always and Forever, Lara Jean – Jenny Han
A beautiful and adorable and perfect ending to my favourite contemporary series. I really didn’t want it to end. I could honestly read a million books about Lara Jean and Peter and the rest of the incredible characters. There were so many ups and downs in the story, and I felt very tense at some points, but it was a beautiful ending.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #3)

NEW RELEASE YOU HAVEN'T READ YET BUT WANT TO

When Dimple Met Rishi – Sandhya Menon
Everyone is talking about this book and I’ve only heard good things about it. As soon as I buy it (hopefully soon) I am going to devour it!

When Dimple Met Rishi

MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE FOR THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR

They Both Die at the End – Adam Silvera
I actually haven’t read any of Adam Silvera’s books, although I do plan on buying them and reading them soon. The concept of this novel sounds really interesting to me so I cannot wait to pick it up.

They Both Die at the End

BIGGEST DISSAPOINTMENT

The Chemist – Stephanie Meyer
I don’t know what I had expected from this book, but I just thought I would enjoy it a bit more than I did. I do usually enjoy mystery thriller books, despite being a fan mainly of YA contemporary. In addition to the review copy I received, I also won a signed hard cover (yay).

The Chemist

BIGGEST SURPRISE

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index – Julie Israel

When I picked this up, I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. But I ended up finishing it in one night because I couldn’t put it down. It focuses on grief, a bit of mystery, a bit of romance, growing friendships and so much more. It was such an emotional and touching book and I just loved it.

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index

FAVOURITE NEW AUTHOR (debut or new to you)

Becky Albertalli
I read both Simon vs the Homo-Sapiens Agenda and The Upside of Unrequited this year and loved both of them. She is definitely one of my favourite authors now.

The Upside of UnrequitedSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

NEWEST FICTIONAL CRUSH RELATIONSHIP

Simon and “Blue” – Simon vs the Homo-Sapiens Agenda
My love for Peter Kavinski was rekindled after reading Always and Forever, Lara Jean. He is, and always will be, my number one book boyfriend. But I guess he isn’t new and I couldn’t think of a new one.
So, I watched Hailey in Bookland’s video and she said her favourite new relationship that she read. Mine is Simon and “Blue”They are just so adorable and eeeekkk (I love love!).

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY

Girl in Pieces – Kathleen Gasglow
I had a lot of books to choose from, but this is a book that I haven’t mentioned yet. This is a really dark and emotional read, but those have been my favourite to read recently. Charlie has been through a lot in her life, as we see in the beginning and throughout the book, but seeing her overcome all of it was one of the best aspects of the story. It focused on mental health and character development, and I pretty much cried through the whole thing.

Girl in Pieces

BOOK THAT MADE YOU HAPPY

Geekerella – Ashley Poston
I love Cinderella and it is my favourite Disney fairy tale of all time. This was such a fun modern take on the beautiful story and it just made me really happy 🙂

Geekerella

FAVOURITE BOOK TO MOVIE ADAPTATION YOU'VE SEEN SO FAR IN 2017

Before I Fall – book by Lauren Oliver
I think this is the only adaptation I’ve seen that I’ve read the book to (I’ve seen Lion but haven’t read it and I’m patiently waiting for Everything, Everything to be released in Australia). I read the book a few years ago and I actually really enjoyed the movie. I love book to movie adaptations!

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FAVOURITE REVIEW YOU'VE WRITTEN THIS YEAR

I can’t really think of any reviews I’ve done this year that have really stood out (sorry, I’m really boring). I have done a few journal flip through’s and shared my favourite pages which was really fun to do. I should start working on more fun and creative reviews.

 

MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK YOU'VE BOUGHT SO FAR THIS YEAR

Harry Potter 20 Year Hufflepuff edition
This book is gorgeous!!

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WHAT BOOKS DO YOU NEED TO READ BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR?

So many! I’m going to make a blog post soon 🙂

 

 

‘THE BIANNUAL BIBLIOTHON’ TBR

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July last year was the first time I participated in the biannual bibliothon. And since it’s winter here in Australia and I’m still on uni holidays, it means that once again I have plenty of time to read. Today, I’ve come up with a rough TBR for the readathon next week but I’m not sure if I’ll end up following it exactly. I’ve come up with one book for each challenge, but a lot of the books cover more than one challenge so if I don’t have time to read all the books, I should still be able to complete all the challenges

 

Group book challenge

Flame in the Mist – Renee Adieh

I actually won’t be completing this challenge. I don’t own the book, I don’t want to buy another book because I have so many on my TBR as it is, and I don’t really have any interest in reading it either.

 

Read from the hosts favourite genre

Emma: Diverse books

My Lovely Frankie – Judith Clarke

I was sent this book for review and I really can’t wait to read it. What I can understand from the synopsis, the main character is religious and from the LGBT community. It’s also an Australian YA book which I do not read enough of.

My Lovely Frankie

 

Read a book that has been or still is banned

The Diary of a Young Girl – Ann Frank

I bought this at the beginning of the year but I haven’t had the time to get around to it yet. I’ve seen the movie and I’m really interested in reading it, so hopefully I’ll have time over the week.

The Diary of a Young Girl

 

Throwback challenge

Genre you’ve read the least this year

Finding Nevo – Nevo Zisin

I don’t think I’ve read any autobiography’s or memoirs this year but I actually really do love to read them. I requested this one for review because I knew it was something I really wanted to read. I can’t wait to learn more about Nevos’ story.

Finding Nevo

 

Book to movie adaptation

The Wrong Girl – Zoe Blake Foster

This is actually a book to TV show adaptation. I know the prompt says to read and watch it, but I actually didn’t watch the episodes that long ago so I’m not going to watch them again. But I bought the book at the beginning of the year and haven’t had time to read it yet, so hopefully it’s as good as the show.

The Wrong Girl

 

Read a book you've seen somewhere other than booktube

One Italian Summer – Keris Stainton

I have a lot of review books on my TBR that could fall under this category, but this one seems a bit on the shorter and lighter side. It was sent to me for review, and I haven’t seen it anywhere on booktube or in the online book community.

One Italian Summer

 

LGBTQIA+

History is All You Left Me – Adam Silvera

I cannot wait to pick this one up. I only bought it the other day but I’ve been wanting to read one of Adam’s books for so long. From what I understand, the main character is gay, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about this book.

History is All You Left Me

 

Comment below if you’re participating in the Biannual Bibliothon and let me know what books you’re reading during the week!

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‘STARGAZING FOR BEGINNERS’ – Jenny McLachlan

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Science geek Meg is left to look after her little sister for ten days after her free-spirited mum leaves suddenly to follow up yet another of her Big Important Causes. But while Meg may understand how the universe was formed, baby Elsa is a complete mystery to her.

And Mum’s disappearance has come at the worst time: Meg is desperate to win a competition to get the chance to visit NASA headquarters, but to do this she has to beat close rival Ed. Can Meg pull off this double life of caring for Elsa and following her own dreams? She’ll need a miracle of cosmic proportions …

Fans fell in love with the warmth, wit, romance and fierce friendships in Flirty Dancing, Love Bomb, Sunkissed and Star Struck, and Stargazing for Beginners has all that and galaxies more. This is the best kind of real-life fiction – with big themes and irresistible characters, it goes straight to your heart.

Thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me a copy of STARGAZING FOR BEGINNERS to review!

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Last year I was sent the final companion book in Jenny’s THE LADYBIRDS series which I read and review. I hadn’t read the first three books in this companion series, but I still didn’t really enjoy it. It wasn’t bad, but it was definitely directed toward a younger audience. But I wasn’t going to let my view on that book get in the way of this one, because even after reading the synopsis of STARGAZING FOR BEGINNERS, it already sounded incredible and something that I wanted to read.

AND I WAS RIGHT! I read this book in two sittings over two night (I would’ve read it all in the one night but I was in the middle of binge watching the last season of Switched at Birth). It was an adorable book that focused on family, friends, and a little bit of romance too. But the story mainly focused on our main character, Meg, and her journey over the couple of weeks that her mother leaves her in charge of her little sister, and also herself.

There were so many things that I loved about this book, so I’m going to TRY and list them all right now;

  • Meg’s character development; opening up and growing and discovering more about herself over just a few weeks.
  • Meg’s relationship with her little sister and grandfather is so adorable and it’s obvious that they both mean a lot to her.
  • Her mother, who is kind of a pain and if my mum ever did that to me I would be pee’d off, is an important part of the story and integral to Meg’s development.
  • The friends at the Biscuit Club that Meg makes. They are all so different to each other, but they also have something in common and it was so nice to see them unite.
  • The theme of space was really interesting to me, and I actually learnt a lot. It was so nice to see Meg so passionate about it as well, and it’s one of many of her amazing qualities.
  • Meg’s struggle with her social anxiety felt so real and it was good to read about this in a book because I feel like I rarely ever see it in YA. Social anxiety is something that a lot of young adults experience, especially in school and with public speaking, so it was good to see that Meg is just like a lot of real life people
  • Adding on to representation such as this, a friend that Meg makes, Annie, has autism. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with an autistic character so it was interesting to read about it. Plus, Annie sarcasm is THE BEST!
  • Ed. Swoon. I love Ed so much. From the beginning, he comes off as a really casual and ‘doesn’t care about anything’ guy – which is similar to a lot of teenage boys. But there is so much more to him. He’s a science nerd just like Meg, and I loved seeing their ups and downs and how they connected over the things they loved. And what he did in the end… I just love him!

 

So if you can’t tell already, I loved this book so much. It covered such a wide range of topics and issues and made me feel such a wide range of brilliant emotions. If you haven’t read it yet, and it sounds like something you would like, then I highly recommend picking it up.

And if you have read it, comment below your thoughts because I would love to hear them!

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‘JUNIPER LEMON’S HAPPINESS INDEX’ – Julie Israel

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It’s hard to keep close a person everyone keeps telling you is gone.

It’s been sixty-five painful days since the death of Juniper’s big sister, Camilla. On her first day back at school, bracing herself for the stares and whispers, Juniper borrows Camie’s handbag for luck – and discovers an unsent break-up letter inside. It’s mysteriously addressed to ‘You’ and dated July 4th – the day of Camie’s accident. Desperate to learn the identity of Camie’s secret love, Juniper starts to investigate.

But then she loses something herself. A card from her daily ritual, The Happiness Index: little notecards on which she rates the day. The Index has been holding Juniper together since Camie’s death – but without this card, there’s a hole. And this particular card contains Juniper’s own secret: a memory that she can’t let anyone else find out.

Thanks to Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of this beautiful book to review!

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OH MY GOOOOSH! I don’t even have the words to describe how much I loved this book, so I’m sorry if this review is just a whole lot of rambling. I started this book at 4pm (June 7) and finished it ten minutes ago (10pm) and I just… I don’t even know what to write because this book made me feel so many things and my emotions are running wild and… okay (breathe, Gabby, it’s okay). Okay. Let’s get on with the review.

I’m going to start off with saying how gorgeous the cover of this book is. The water colour effect, the different colours, the font of the title, it’s just so beautiful. When I first got the book in the mail, from the site of the cover I thought it was going to be a simple fluffy romance story about teenagers in love and all that. It wasn’t until I picked it up this afternoon to read it and I read the blurb again that I was really intrigued with the story and I knew that I was going to enjoy it.

Juniper is such an incredibly strong character and we really get to see her develop over the course of the novel. She has her flaws, one of them being a bit nosey, but I still loved every single aspect of her character. She is grieving the loss of her sister and also having to deal with seeing her parents grieve in their different ways, which was really emotional to read about. Her best friend has also stopped talking to her, so Juniper is all alone in a time when she really needs a friend. All she has is her index cards which she numbers with the days since she lost her sister, and writes her personal notes on them every day. But when day number 65 goes missing, it begins a journey Juniper didn’t know she wanted, and makes many friends along the way.

All of these “side” characters are so important to Juniper’s story and really help her develop along the way. I loved every single one of them… I just loved every single aspect of this book! Brand is just… AH-MAY-ZING. I mean, he too has his flaws, but he was the light that Juniper needed. And their cutesy little friendship and relationship was so nice to read about and it definitely added a lightheartedness to the plot which was needed. Brand is also going through a hard time at home along with Juniper’s other friends (Kody, Angela, Nate and Sponge) who are all experiencing something that no one knows about. This really plays with the theme of not really knowing what’s going on in other people’s life. Everyone has their secrets (including Camilla) that they will do anything to keep from other people finding out.

The story line itself is so raw and emotional as it focuses on grief with mentions of bullying, parental abuse, death and suicide, and it was so honest and real. However, Julie Israel deals with this in a way where it wasn’t as “sad” or “miserable” as it would seem. I don’t know if it was her writing style, they way she wrote the emotional things, or if it was because the sad was balanced out with the happy, but either way the book left me feeling happy as opposed to the down mood that books like this usually leave me in.

*SPOILER IN THIS PARAGRAPH*
I got a bit teary toward the end, but I don’t think it was even sad tears. Everything was just wrapped up so nicely in the end. Although we don’t get closure on a specific something in the book, I feel like we really didn’t need to know who You was. He was Camilla’s secret, and she wanted him to be a secret for a reason. I kind of wish we discovered why he was this big secret, but either way I think it was handed nicely. But the burning of everything in the end and the characters getting their closure, gave me closure as well, and I was able to close the book with a smile on my face (but still sad because this incredible book was finished :().

Overall, I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend that you pick this book up. If you read and enjoyed The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson or Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira (two of my favourite books), then you will definitely enjoy Juniper Lemon because there is definitely a lot of similarities between the three.

This would have to be one of the best books I’ve read so far this year, and I won’t be surprised at all if it ends up in my top books of 2017, and my favourite books of all time!

Comment below if you’ve read Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index and let me know your thoughts. Also let me know if you plan on picking it up, because I need to talk to someone about this book!

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I started writing a new novel!

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Previously I have uploaded two blog posts talking about my process of writing and editing my WIP at the time. But a couple months ago (March) I decided to step away from that project. If you read those blog posts, you would have noticed how excited I was to get back into working on that novel. During April Camp Nanowrimo, I was planning on finishing the edit of the first draft. However, I was struck with two new novel ideas, and when this happened, I realised that I no longer had the passion or determination to continue working on that novel.

So the first new idea I came up with I loved and it came to me after I finished reading Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira (one of my favourite books of all time). So I sat down over a couple nights and wrote out a chapter outline thinking that I would start writing it after I finished editing my ex-WIP.

But… that’s not what happened.

After watching the 13 Reasons Why Netflix series, I was struck with another new novel idea. I was so excited to start writing this, that I decided to scrap the novel I had already written and push aside the outline I made (I do plan on writing the draft for that one during November Nanowrimo) to start working on this new WIP.

I am going to give a few points on what my new WIP is about;

  • It is told from the perspective of four different characters (teenagers)
  • It’s a YA contemporary (I honestly don’t think I could write anything else)
  • It focuses on mental health with themes of suicide, depression and anxiety, along with issues of domestic violence, physical abuse, emotional abuse, eating disorders, bullying and rape
  • Each character is completely different and are going through their own things (which evolve throughout the course of the novel). However, their stories all intertwine in a way (I’ll keep this a secret for now)

That’s all I’m going to share for now, but hopefully if I continue to write these blog posts then I will definitely be sharing more about it!

So, April Camp Nano came along, and I didn’t really have a large goal to write. I set my goal to 20000 words, but I wasn’t going to pressure myself into writing if I didn’t feel like it. I just wanted to get it started. I decided to write one character’s story/perspective at a time to make it less confusing for myself to have to switch between voices all the time. So my plan for April was to finish one characters perspective. I ended up writing the first character and half of the second character’s perspective which was so much better than I thought I was going to do.

I estimated to write about 20000 words for each character’s perspective, which would make the draft about 80000 words. The first character’s story ended up being around 25000, so I was already above the limit I set myself. I also wrote about 10000 words of the second character during April Nano. So you could say that April Camp Nano was a success.

After April, I had to go back to uni (I was on mid semester break for most of the month), so I was planning on taking it slow from there and just writing what I felt like. But then I discovered The Ampersand Prize where you submit a draft of your manuscript and the winner gets it published (long story short). The deadline is the end of July sometime, so I set myself a goal. I was going to finish this book at the end of June and edit during July and no matter how unedited it was, I was going to enter anyway because I had nothing to lose.

I aimed to write about 1000 words a day, so in May I finished the second and third characters’ perspective, and on June 15 I finished the first draft when I completed the fourth and final character’s perspective. My first draft ended up being 87000 words which is probably a bit too much for a YA contemporary, but that’s what editing is for! I wrote two first drafts for novels last year; the first being 40000 words and the second being 60000 words. Even though I really was only working on this draft for two and a half months as opposed to the one month that I spent on the other two, I put so much time and effort and love and passion into this story so when I finished (5 days ahead of schedule), it was the biggest relief.

But I finished it!

It was long and hard. And reading back on it now, it’s far from perfect and there’s a lot of work to do before I won’t cringe reading it. But I’m actually really happy with it overall. I think it’s a really important story that I am passionate about and WANT people to read. I decided last week that I’m probably not going to enter it in The Ampersand Prize. I’m going to see where the manuscript is at that point of the deadline, but I doubt it will even be readable by that point.

If you enjoyed this post and want to know more about my editing process (which I am starting during July Camp Nanowrimo) then comment below and I will be sure to keep up with posts like these.

 

*** Also if you are interested in being a Beta Reader for when I’m ready for someone to read it, then you can DM me on Twitter (please… I have no writing or reading friends!). Just keep in mind that there are trigger warnings for the topics I mentioned above!

 

Also something I didn’t mention above, each chapter is titled a name of a song which I think sets the mood for each chapter. So with each writing blog post, I’m going to share one of these songs/chapter titles and a character so you can get a better grasp on the novel.

Character of the day:
Aidan is probably my favourite side character from the book. He is loud, full of fun and laughter, and he’s a hip-hop dancer. I only wrote one romance (if you even want to call it that), and Aidan is one half of this couple.

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Song of the day:
Chapter One: The Last Day on Earth by Kate Miller-Heidke

JUNE 2017 BOOK HAUL

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Frankie - Shivaun Plozza

Frankie Vega is angry. Just ask the guy whose nose she broke. Or the cop investigating the burglary she witnessed, or her cheating ex-boyfriend or her aunt who’s tired of giving second chances…When a kid shows up claiming to be Frankie’s half brother, it opens the door to a past she doesn’t want to remember. And when that kid goes missing, the only person willing to help is a boy with stupidly blue eyes … and secrets of his own. Frankie’s search for the truth might change her life, or cost her everything.

Frankie

Still Life With Tornado - A.S. King

Actually Sarah is several human beings. At once. And only one of them is sixteen. Her parents insist she’s a gifted artist with a bright future, but now she can’t draw a thing, not even her own hand. Meanwhile, there’s a ten-year-old Sarah with a filthy mouth, a bad sunburn, and a clear memory of the family vacation in Mexico that ruined everything. She’s a ray of sunshine compared to twenty-three-year-old Sarah, who has snazzy highlights and a bad attitude. And then there’s forty-year-old Sarah (makes good queso dip, doesn’t wear a bra, really wants sixteen-year-old Sarah to tell the truth about her art teacher). They’re all wandering Philadelphia—along with a homeless artist allegedly named Earl—and they’re all worried about Sarah’s future.

Still Life with Tornado

Harry Potter - J.K. Rowling (20 year Hufflepuff ed.)

Harry Potter’s life is miserable. His parents are dead and he’s stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he’s a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry.

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* My Lovely Frankie - Judith Clarke

In the 1950s, ‘entering’ the seminary was for ever, and young boys were gathered into the priesthood before they were old enough to know what they would lose. Tom went to St Finbar’s because he was looking for something more than the ordinary happiness of his home and school.
But then he discovered that being able to love another person was the most important thing of all. For Tom, loving Frankie made him part of the world. Even when Frankie was gone…

My Lovely Frankie

* One Italian Summer - Keris Stainton

It’s been a year since Milly, Elyse and Leonie’s dad died, and a year since their last trip to Rome. Summer’s here again, and once again they are heading with their mum to Italy – but what’s it going to be like going without Dad? Rome still holds its familiar charms – the sun is still as warm, the gelato as delicious, the people as welcoming. But nothing is quite as it once was …
With grief still raw for all of them, Milly is facing the additional awfulness of having to see Luke again – gorgeous, gorgeous Luke, who she had a fling with last year, and who she made a total fool of herself with – or so she thinks. What’s going to happen this time? What’s more, things between Milly, her sisters and their mum are rocky – Leonie is being tempestuous and unpredictable, Elyse is caught up with her new boyfriend, and Milly feels like she just doesn’t know how she fits in any more.

One Italian Summer

* The Dream Walker - Victoria Carless

Sixteen-year-old Lucy Hart has been counting the days till she can get the hell out of Digger’s Landing – a small Queensland fishing hamlet home to fifteen families, a posse of mongrel dogs, and Parkers Corner Store (no apostrophe and nowhere near a corner).
But just like the tides Lucy’s luck is on the turn, and as graduation nears her escape plans begin to falter; her best friend, Polly, is dropping out of school to help pay the bills, and Tom has been shipped off to boarding school, away from the flotsam of this place. And then there’s Lucy’s nightlife, which is filled with dreams that just don’t seem to belong to her at all…

The Dream Walker

* Finding Nevo - Nevo Zisin

Meet Nevo: girl, boy, he, she, him, her, they, them, daughter, son, teacher, student, friend, gay, bi, lesbian, trans, homo, Jew, dyke, masculine, feminine, androgynous, queer. Nevo was not born in the wrong body. Nevo just wants everyone to catch up with all that Nevo is. Personal, political and passionate, Finding Nevo is an autobiography about gender and everything that comes with it.

Finding Nevo

* Release - Patrick Ness

Adam Thorn is having what will turn out to be the most unsettling, difficult day of his life, with relationships fracturing, a harrowing incident at work, and a showdown between this gay teen and his preacher father that changes everything. It’s a day of confrontation, running, sex, love, heartbreak, and maybe, just maybe, hope. He won’t come out of it unchanged. And all the while, lurking at the edges of the story, something extraordinary and unsettling is on a collision course

Release

* Midnight Jewel - Richelle Mead

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. There, Mira finds herself subjected to persecution, not only from her fellow Glittering Court jewels, but from her suitors, as well—men she would potentially be expected to give her life to.
By day, she goes through the motions, learning the etiquette and customs that will help to earn her anonymity, even making a couple true friends in the process, the forthright ladies’ maid Adelaide and the ambitious laundress Tamsin. But by night, Mira hatches a different plan entirely—one that, if exposed, could get her hanged in the highest court of Adoria.

Midnight Jewel (The Glittering Court, #2)

* Exchange of Heart - Darren Groth

Since the sudden death of his younger sister, Munro Maddux has been stuck. Flashbacks. Anger. Chest pains. And a voice – taunting, barking, biting – that his counsellor calls ‘the Coyote’. Munro knows a student exchange will not be the stuff of Disney movies. But in Australia he intends to move beyond his troubled past.
Forced by his new school to join a volunteer program, Munro discovers the Coyote is silenced in one place: Fair Go, an assisted living residence in Brisbane’s west, where Munro gets to know his team of residents: dogged designer Bernie; sleeping refugee Shah; would-be wedded couple Blake and Dale; comic creator Iggy; and self-defence tutor Florence. As this unlikely group shows Munro the sights, Munro’s notion of what it means to be a big brother begins to change.

Exchange of Heart

* Deeper than the Sea - Nelika McDonald

Beth had known there were secrets folded inside Theo. But she didn’t know they were secrets about her.
It’s always been just Beth and her mother Theo. Until Beth is sixteen years old, and a stranger arrives in their small coastal town – a stranger with a claim that rips apart all Beth knows. And what do you do when everything you thought you knew about yourself is based on a lie

Deeper than the Sea

* When It's Real - Erin Watt

Meet Oakley Ford-teen celebrity, renowned pop star, child of famous movie stars, hottie with millions of fangirls… and restless troublemaker. On the surface he has it all, but with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry, and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley’s team decides it’s time for an intervention. The result: an image overhaul, complete with a fake girlfriend meant to show the world he’s settled down.
Enter seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett-devoted sister, part-time waitress, the definition of “normal.” Under ordinary circumstances she’d never have taken this gig, but with her family strapped for cash, she doesn’t have much of a choice. And for the money Oakley’s team is paying her, she figures she can put up with outlandish Hollywood parties and a team of publicists watching her every move. So what if she thinks Oakley’s a shallow, self-centered jerk? It’s not like they’re going to fall for each other in real life…right?

When It's Real

* If There's No Tomorrow - Jennifer L. Armentrout

Lena Wise is always looking forward to tomorrow, especially at the start of her senior year. She’s ready to pack in as much friend time as possible, to finish college applications and to maybe let her childhood best friend, Sebastian, know how she really feels about him. For Lena, the upcoming year is going to be one of opportunities and chances. Until one choice, one moment, destroys everything. Now Lena isn’t looking forward to tomorrow. Not when friend time may never be the same. Not when college applications feel all but impossible. Not when Sebastian could never forgive her for what happened.

If There's No Tomorrow

When Dimple Met Rishi - Sandhya Menon

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?
Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.
The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

When Dimple Met Rishi

History is All You Left Me - Adam Silvera

OCD-afflicted seventeen-year-old, Griffin, has just lost his first love – his best friend, ex-boyfriend and the boy he believed to be his ultimate life partner – in a drowning accident. In a desperate attempt to hold onto every last piece of the past, a broken Griffin forges a friendship with Theo’s new college boyfriend, Jackson. And Griffin will stop at nothing to learn every detail of Theo’s new college life, and ultimate death. But as the grieving pair grows closer, readers will question Griffin’s own version of the truth – both in terms of what he’s willing to hide, and what true love ultimately means…

History is All You Left Me

The Build-Up Season - Megan Jacobson

Seventeen-year-old Iliad Piper – Ily for short – is named after war and angry at the world. Growing up with a violent father and abused mother, she doesn’t know how to do relationships, family or friends. Her love-hate friendship with Max turns into a prank war and she nearly destroys her first true friendship with misfit Mia. She takes off her armour for nobody, until she meets Jared, a local actor and someone who’s as complicated as she is.

The Build-up Season

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JUNE 2017 WRAP UP

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So June was a really good reading month for me – the best so far this year! I managed to read a book every two days which ended the month on 15 books. 6 of these books were sent to me for review, 4 were rereads and 5 were books that have been on my TBR for a while.

Here’s what I read this month;

The Whole Thing Together - Ann Brashares

Summer for Sasha and Ray means the sprawling old house on Long Island. Since they were children, they’ve shared almost everything—reading the same books, running down the same sandy footpaths to the beach, eating peaches from the same market, laughing around the same sun-soaked dining table. Even sleeping in the same bed, on the very same worn cotton sheets. But they’ve never met.
Sasha’s dad was once married to Ray’s mom, and together they had three daughters: Emma, the perfectionist; Mattie, the beauty; and Quinn, the favorite. But the marriage crumbled and the bitterness lingered. Now there are two new families—and neither one will give up the beach house that holds the memories, happy and sad, of summers past.

The synopsis to this book sounded interesting, but when I read it, it didn’t really do anything for me. It was confusing and there were too many characters. More thoughts in my review.
3 Stars
Review:

The Whole Thing Together

Geekerella - Ashley Poston

When geek girl Elle Wittimer sees a cosplay contest sponsored by the producers of Starfield, she has to enter. First prize is an invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. Elle’s been scraping together tips from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck behind her stepmother’s back, and winning this contest could be her ticket out once and for all—not to mention a fangirl’s dream come true.
Teen actor Darien Freeman is less than thrilled about this year’s ExcelsiCon. He used to live for conventions, but now they’re nothing but jaw-aching photo sessions and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Federation Prince Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the diehard Starfield fandom has already dismissed him as just another heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, closet nerd Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise

This was such an adorable and fun and fluffy read. Cinderella is my favourite Disney fairy tale of all time, and it was a lot of fun to read this modern and geeky retelling. More thoughts in my review.
4 Stars
Review:

Geekerella

Once and for All - Sarah Dessen

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that’s why she’s cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm’s length. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged, now that he’s met the one girl he really wants.

This is the first Dessen book I read, and I enjoyed it. It was a cute contemporary book about love and weddings and loss. More thoughts in my review.
3.5 Stars
Review: June 2

Once and for All

Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index - Julie Israel

It’s been sixty-five painful days since the death of Juniper’s big sister, Camilla. On her first day back at school, bracing herself for the stares and whispers, Juniper borrows Camie’s handbag for luck – and discovers an unsent break-up letter inside. It’s mysteriously addressed to ‘You’ and dated July 4th – the day of Camie’s accident. Desperate to learn the identity of Camie’s secret love, Juniper starts to investigate.
But then she loses something herself. A card from her daily ritual, The Happiness Index: little notecards on which she rates the day. The Index has been holding Juniper together since Camie’s death – but without this card, there’s a hole. And this particular card contains Juniper’s own secret: a memory that she can’t let anyone else find out.

This is one of the best books I’ve read all year! I loved everything about it and it made me feel so many emotions. It’s a book about loss, grief, love, friendships and so much more. More thoughts in my review.
5 (million) Stars
Review: June 11

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index

Stargazing for Beginners - Jenny McLachlan

Science geek Meg is left to look after her little sister for ten days after her free-spirited mum leaves suddenly to follow up yet another of her Big Important Causes. But while Meg may understand how the universe was formed, baby Elsa is a complete mystery to her. And Mum’s disappearance has come at the worst time: Meg is desperate to win a competition to get the chance to visit NASA headquarters, but to do this she has to beat close rival Ed. Can Meg pull off this double life of caring for Elsa and following her own dreams? She’ll need a miracle of cosmic proportions …

Another really good read this month that covered so many touching and important story lines. I laughed, I cried, and I fell in love with the characters and story. More thoughts in my review.
4.5-5 Stars (I’m undecided)
Review: June 14

Stargazing For Beginners

Wreck - Fleur Ferris

Tamara Bennett is going to be the first journalist to strictly report only good news. Finished with high school, Tamara is ready to say goodbye to her sleepy little town and part-time job at the local paper. O-weeks awaits, which means parties, cute boys and settling into student res with her best friend Relle. Things take an unexpected turn, however, when she arrives home to find her house ransacked and her life in danger. What is this mysterious note? And why does it mean so much to one of Australia’s most powerful media moguls? Caught between a bitter rivalry and dangerous family secret, who can Tamara trust? Or should she trust herself?

I really enjoyed this book. I haven’t read one of Fleur’s books before, but the suspense and thrill from ‘Wreck’ has really made me want to soon. However, it still lacked a little something for me. I also got to do a Q & A with Fleur which you can check out below. More thoughts in my review.
3.5 Stars
Q&A:
Review: June 18

Wreck

Frankie - Shivaun Plozza

Frankie Vega is angry. Just ask the guy whose nose she broke. Or the cop investigating the burglary she witnessed, or her cheating ex-boyfriend or her aunt who’s tired of giving second chances…When a kid shows up claiming to be Frankie’s half brother, it opens the door to a past she doesn’t want to remember. And when that kid goes missing, the only person willing to help is a boy with stupidly blue eyes … and secrets of his own. Frankie’s search for the truth might change her life, or cost her everything.

I got to meet Shivaun at Reading Matters earlier in the month and she had so many great things to say about reading and YA. I was really looking forward to this story, and even though there were a few things that I liked and enjoyed, it wasn’t as good as I thought it was going to be.
3.5 Stars

Frankie

Still Life With Tornado - A.S. King

Actually Sarah is several human beings. At once. And only one of them is sixteen. Her parents insist she’s a gifted artist with a bright future, but now she can’t draw a thing, not even her own hand. Meanwhile, there’s a ten-year-old Sarah with a filthy mouth, a bad sunburn, and a clear memory of the family vacation in Mexico that ruined everything. She’s a ray of sunshine compared to twenty-three-year-old Sarah, who has snazzy highlights and a bad attitude. And then there’s forty-year-old Sarah (makes good queso dip, doesn’t wear a bra, really wants sixteen-year-old Sarah to tell the truth about her art teacher). They’re all wandering Philadelphia—along with a homeless artist allegedly named Earl—and they’re all worried about Sarah’s future.

This was such an intense, touching, emotional and thought provoking story. There were so many aspects of this book that I loved, found intriguing and it really made me think about so many things in my life and the world in general. Such a great read, and if you like abstract and different books, then I highly recommend.
4.5 Stars

Still Life with Tornado

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy – until he is rescued by an owl, taken to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, learns to play Quidditch and does battle in a deadly duel. The Reason … HARRY POTTER IS A WIZARD!

This was a reread for me. I just randomly felt like delving into this world again (even though I only read it for the first time a year and a half ago) but I cranked it out on one Sunday.
4.5 Stars

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)

Clockwork Angel
Clockwork Prince
Clockwork Princess - Cassandra Clare 

The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them…

I was finally in the mood to start this series. I read The Mortal Instruments last year and liked them, however, I haven’t been in a fantasy mood all year so I didn’t want to force myself to read them just for the sake of it. But I’m so glad that I finally picked them up throughout the month because… I LOVED THEM! And that ending!!!!! I actually think I prefer TID to TMI. Also, I’m Team Will 🙂
4.5 Stars

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1)Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices, #2)Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices, #3)

To all the Boys I've Loved Before
PS I Still Love You - Jenny Han

Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

After I read Always and Forever, Lara Jean last month, it reminded me how much I love these books and characters (especially Peter). So I read both of them inbetween reading The Infernal Devices to break up the series and I loved them just as much the second time around. I tagged my favourite scenes and cutesy Peter moments and it ended up being half the book!
5 (million) Stars

To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1)P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #2)

All the Bright Places - Jennifer Niven

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him. Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death. When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

I was lucky enough to meet Jennifer Niven last month which put me in the mood to reread this book. I read it for the first time when it was first released, and the story was just as touching the second time around.
4.5 Stars

All the Bright Places

 

Comment below what your favourite book that you read in June was. I would have to say that my favourite was Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index – and it’s definitely going to be in my favourites list for 2017!

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