‘THE BLUE CAT’ – Ursula Dubosarsky

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A boy stood in the playground under the big fig tree. ‘He can’t speak English,’ the children whispered.

Sydney, 1942. The war is coming to Australia – not only with the threat of bombardment, but also the arrival of refugees from Europe. Dreamy Columba’s world is growing larger. She is drawn to Ellery, the little boy from far away, and, together with her highly practical best friend Hilda, the three children embark on an adventure through the harbour-side streets – a journey of discovery and terror, in pursuit of the mysterious blue cat …

Thanks to Allen and Unwin for sending me a copy of THE BLUE CAT for review.

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WHAT I LOVED:

This was an insightful short story told from the perspective of a young girl during WWII. Firstly, I want to say that I love reading book set in Australia because it’s always nice to hear about things from home, plus I LOVE Sydney and it was so cool to hear about locations that I knew and could picture.

Ursula’s writing style was simple, yet beautiful which makes it an inviting read for readers of all ages.

There were pictures, newspaper articles and primary sources scattered throughout the book to add to the story that was being told. I thought that this was such a nice touch because it definitely helped me visualise the story and it was interesting to read first hand accounts on the war.

It was a nice and quick story with a simple and easy to understand story line. I finished this in one sitting not only because of the small page number count, but also because the story was so easy to follow. This left a lasting impression.

 

WHAT I DIDN’T LOVE:

There was a lack of the cat. I mean, the title is about this blue cat, and the synopsis suggests that the cat has all these secrets, but we barely ever get to see this cat. I get that it’s probably supposed to symbolise something, but I didn’t quite get WHAT.

There was very little character building or development. Our main character, Columba’s personality didn’t shine for me, and neither did the other characters that she encountered with. Not even the cat!

I also just feel like SOMETHING was missing from the book. It felt like there was a bit of suspense leading up to something, which I am all for. But then the book ended, and that was it. It just kind of ended and I felt slightly unsatisfied with what happened throughout the book and how it ended.

 

I still think that The Blue Cat was a nice and quick story set, and it was interesting to read about Australia’s view on the war which is something that we don’t see often. If this is something that interests you, than I recommend The Blue Cat because it does give an insightful intake on this topic.

Comment below if you’ve read this book and let me know your thoughts.

 

HISTORICAL FICTION that I’ve enjoyed previously:

The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak

Wolf by Wolf – Ryan Graudin

Prisoner of Night and Fog duology – Anne Blankman

 

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reading books out of your age category (adult fiction) – ft. ‘INDELIBLE’ by Adelia Saunders

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Magdalena has an unsettling gift. She sees writing on the body of everyone she meets – names, dates, details both banal and profound – and her only relief from the onslaught of information is to take off her glasses and let the world recede. Mercifully, her own skin is blank.
When she meets Neil, she is intrigued to see her name on his cheek. He’s in Paris for the summer, studying a medieval pilgrimage to the rocky coast of Spain, where the body of Saint Jacques was said to have washed ashore, covered in scallop shells. Desperate to make things right after her best friend dies – a loss she might have prevented – Magdalena embarks on her own pilgrimage, but not before Neil falls for her, captivated by her pale eyes, charming Eastern European accent, and aura of heartbreak.
Neil’s father, Richard, is also in Paris, searching for the truth about his late mother, a famous expatriate American novelist who abandoned him at birth. All his life Richard has clung to a single striking memory – his mother’s red shoes, which her biographers agree he never could have seen.
Despite misunderstandings and miscommunications, these unforgettable characters converge, by chance or perhaps by fate, and Magdalena’s uncanny ability may prove to be the key to their happiness. Indelible pulses with humanity and breathes life into unexpected fragments of history, illustrating our urgent need to connect with others and the past.

Thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me a copy of INDELIBLE to read and review!

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So I’ve had this book on my TBR for a couple months, but I’ve been putting it off because it is out of my usual YA comfort zone. During Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon (check out my wrap up on my blog), I decided to pick it up because it is a short and quick read and I thought it would be best to get it over with.

So I read it and I just didn’t feel anything for it. It wasn’t bad, but I just couldn’t connect to the characters or have any emotions for the story line, which I was disappointed with because the blurb sounded really interesting and I thought I was going to enjoy it. If I was reading it at any other time, I probably would have DNF’ed it. But since I was dedicating 24 hours to reading, and because I hate DNFing books, I just pushed through it.

So when I sat down to write a review, I couldn’t decide what I wanted to write about because I don’t really have much to say about the book (apart from what I already said). So instead, I’m going to talk about my thoughts on reading within and outside of age categories, and some of my favourite books out of the young adult age genre that I’m used to reading.

I really only became familiar with YA when I joined the book community in 2015. Although I had read Twilight, John Green and a few other YA books, I didn’t really understand that there was a difference between them and the other books I had read. A lot of the other books I owned consisted of Nicholas Sparks, Gillian Flynn and a few autobiographies. But when I joined bookstagram and discovered YA, I realised that these were the books that I enjoyed most, and I hardly ever explore outside of this.

Below are some of my favourite adult fiction books, or books other than YA. Be sure to comment below what your favourites are;
Love, Rosie – Cecelia Ahern
Nicholas Sparks
Me Before You – Jojo Moyes
Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

Comment below what your thoughts are on age categories, and how often you read outside of your usual age range, assuming that you have one. I would love to hear what other people’s thoughts are on this discussion.

Also let me know if you’ve read Indelible and what you thought about it!

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‘CLOSE YOUR EYES’ – Nicci Cloke

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Southfield High School is oh so normal, with its good teachers, its bad, and its cliques. But despite the cliques, there’s a particular group of friends who have known each other forever and know that they can rely on each other for anything.

There’s the twins: Aisha, rebellious, kind, and just a tiny bit worried about what the hell she’s going to do once this year is over, and Vis, smart, quiet and observant. Then there’s Remy, the loudmouth, and Gemma, who’s more interested in college boys and getting into the crap club in town. And then there’s Elise: the pretty one.

But at the start of Year 11, when the group befriend the new boy, Elijah, things start to change. The group find themselves not as close as they used to be.

Until one Tuesday, when the students are trapped inside the school building. And one of them has a gun.

Close Your Eyes is the story of a school shooting which, through interviews, messages and questionable actions, asks: Who is truly responsible?

Thanks to Allen and Unwin for sending me a copy of CLOSE YOUR EYES for review.

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The synopsis on the back of the book I received was no where near as detailed as the one I above (from Goodreads) so I really had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that there was a school shooting involved – but I didn’t think it would go down the way it did.

I want to start of talking about the different characters. The character I feel we got the most from was Aisha, however, she was probably the most “average” of all the characters. I feel like everyone else had distinguishing features and characteristics and had their own little side stories going on, so I found it weird that the blurb made it seem as though Aisha is the protagonist. Then there’s her twin brother, Ash (confusing, right?) who is all about school and the books and is a bit more shy than her. But they’re super close and hang out with the same friends. Remy and Gemma have been their best friends since they were all young, and I would say they’re the loud ones in the group who made the most noise and got up to the most mischief. And then we have Elijah (Eli) and Elise – once again, really confusing! And both of these characters are developed as the story goes on and we learn more and more about them.

The book is not told in a conventional format; instead the story pans out through interview transcripts, blog posts, journals, messages, and with the odd third person omniscient past tense perspective. Although I found this a little bit confusing in the beginning, once I got used to it I really liked it. Because there’s so many characters who are all going through different things at different points of the story, I thought this was a really intriguing way to do so.

We also have the suspense and mystery of the school shooting. We know from the beginning that it’s going to happen, but we don’t actually get to that part of the story until the very end. I spent the whole book trying to figure out what was going to happen, and I kept thinking that I knew who it was that was doing the shooting, but I was wrong! The last third of the book is so intense that I literally couldn’t put it down – I needed to know what was going to happen! I’ve never actually read a book before that’s based around a school shooting, so not only did I find this scary and emotional, but also quite confronting. It was also different to read about it set in the UK as opposed to the US where most of these stories are set in.

However, there wasn’t just the school shooting involved, there were the events leading up to it that created suspense as they panned out. There was bullying involved, not only amongst the main characters but others as well. It was emotional and eye opening to see the different effects and repercussions that bullying (and additionally with social media) has on kids and teenagers. It was good to see the different circumstances that Cloke used in CYE, including the school shooting, murder and suicide.

The one problem I had with this book was that I found it a bit slow in the beginning and I just couldn’t get into it. It took me a few days to read the first half, not because it was bad or dis interesting, I just couldn’t get a grasp on the story and what was happening. I was a bit disappointing to wait the whole book to find out about the shooting, for it to only happen in the end. It didn’t have the same intensity that I thought it would initially, but it definitely still did leave quite an impact.

 

I highly recommend reading this book if it sounds like something you might like. It’s a touching and eye opening story about the repercussions of bullying, and further highlights the point that we don’t know what is truly going on in other peoples lives, even the ones we are closest to.

 

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‘KING’S CAGE’ – Victoria Aveyard

 

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In this breathless third installment to Victoria Aveyard’s bestselling Red Queen series, allegiances are tested on every side. And when the Lightning Girl’s spark is gone, who will light the way for the rebellion?

Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother’s web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.

As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.

When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down.

Thanks to Harper Collins for sending me a copy of King’s Cage to review.

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I read Red Queen in January of 2015 and read Glass Sword when it was released a couple months later. I absolutely loved the first book – I adored the character and found the plot really intriguing despite it being similar to a lot of YA fantasy books. But when I read the second book, I didn’t enjoy it at all and actually found it a bit boring. I couldn’t even remember what happened, that’s how disinterested I was, so I had to read a summary before picking up the third book.

But I can safely say that I actually really enjoyed this instalment.

I’ve been putting off reading it for a while because I haven’t been in the mood to read fantasy and I didn’t want that to affect my thoughts on the book, and also because I didn’t want to read a 500 page book that I was going to be bored with like I was the last time. But I eventually got right into it, and somehow managed to finish it in three days.

What I loved about King’s Cage is that we got more of Maven in this book, and we got to see the person underneath the mask that his mother glued to his face from the day he was born. It hurts me so much to read what is happening because it isn’t all his fault – he’s trapped and I’m not sure now if he’s ever going to get out. In Red Queen, I was constantly switching between Cal and Maven, but I think I was always leaning more toward Maven. But after this book, I’m not too sure it’s going to happen.

In saying that, I still really like Cal’s character, but we didn’t get too much from him during this instalment. The thing I like about Cal the most is that he has realistic flaws which makes him a relatable character. I would have liked a Cal POV throughout the book because I feel like I kept forgetting about him.

I’m so glad this book redeemed itself and the Red Queen series for me. I originally thought it was only going to be a trilogy, but with that ending there has to be more – and I can’t wait to read it!

Be sure to comment below if you’ve read the Red Queen series and let me know what you think!

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‘THE UPSIDE OF UNREQUITED’ – Becky Albertalli

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Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.

Right?’

 

Thanks so much to Penguin Australia for sending me a copy of TUoU to review!

I haven’t read Simon vs the Homo Sapians Agenda, but I really really rally want to before the movie comes out (and especially now after reading this). But basically, I didn’t know what to expect because the blurb was really vague and I hadn’t read any of Becky’s books before. But OMGOMGOMG it was amazing!!

Firstly, the book had a wide range of diverse characters and I loved how up to date it was with social issues (including gender and sexuality). Molly has two mums, her and her sister are mixed-raced, her sister is a lesbian, one of their friends are pansexual, one of the mother’s are bisexual, we had some Jewish characters, and Molly is over weight, and this is just to name a few! I think that a lot of people will be able to identify with a character in this book, and that’s definitely something that needs to happen in more YA books.

My favourite part of this book is how accurate it is to teenage thoughts and the lives of a teenager. Specifically, I felt that I could relate to Molly a lot, and hearing things that she thought about or worried about that I think and worry about as well was really comforting. It isn’t often that I read a book where a main character is so similar to me, but I really felt that with Molly and that made me really happy. Additionally (is that too formal? Can you tell that I just finished writing an analysis for uni?), it was good to see a main character who is overweight without body size insecurities being an issue in the book. Molly knows she’s overweight, but she is comfortable in her own skin and she doesn’t care what people think of her – and this is exactly how I feel at this point in my life! Plus she’s had a million crushes but never had a boyfriend (ehm… ME!).

The story line is really simple; coming of age, amazing family relationships (including sibling love), incredible friendships that widened among so may different characters, an adorable romance, and of course a bit of drama. It wasn’t too much that I felt overwhelmed, and it wasn’t uneventful that I felt nothing at the end. It was such a fun and exciting read and I couldn’t recommend it enough.

Go read this book RIGHT NOW!

And I’m going to go and buy Simon and read it straight away!

Comment below if you’ve read this book and let me know your thoughts!

The Upside of Unrequited

APRIL BOOK HAUL

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Here are the books I receive in April. The first few books I bought in a Dymocks 3 for 2 sale (how could I say no?), I received one for an Easter present, and the rest were sent to me for review.

What books did you get in April?

*: review books

The Wrong Girl - Zoe Foster

Lily is a producer on a successful cooking segment for a daily morning show. The new chef has just arrived on set and he is drop dead gorgeous. And despite everything – the sabbatical that Lily and her flatmate Simone are taking from men, the fact that Jack is a work colleague – Lily falls head over heels for him.
And while Lily battles her feelings, her flatmate Simone breaks their pact and starts dating some guy from her wholefoods shop. That guy turns out to be Jack. Up close, Lily bravely watches on as romance blossoms between Simone and Jack. Or does it? They don’t seem to have much in common, apart from their striking good looks. And Lily and Jack just seem to get each other. Is that the same thing as falling in love?

The Wrong Girl

The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank

In 1942, with Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, they and another family lived cloistered in the “Secret Annexe” of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death.

The Diary of a Young Girl

Milk and Honey - Rupi Kaur

milk and honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. It is about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose, deals with a different pain, heals a different heartache. milk and honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.

Milk and Honey

* But Then I Came Back - Estelle Laure

Eden: As far as coma patients go, Eden’s lucky. She woke up. But still, she can’t shake the feeling that she might have dragged something back from the near-afterlife.
Joe: Joe visits the hospital every day, hoping that Jaz, his lifelong friend, will wake up. More than anything, he wants to hear her voice again. But he’s not sure anyone can reach her.
Eden & Joe: Even though she knows it sounds crazy, Eden tells Joe that they might be able to talk to Jaz. Opening themselves up to the great unknown—and each other—Eden and Joe experience life: mysterious and scary, beautiful and bright.

But Then I Came Back

* Close Your Eyes - Nicci Cloke

Southfield High School is oh so normal, with its good teachers, its bad, and its cliques. But despite the cliques, there’s a particular group of friends who have known each other forever and know that they can rely on each other for anything. \
There’s the twins: Aisha, rebellious, kind, and just a tiny bit worried about what the hell she’s going to do once this year is over, and Vis, smart, quiet and observant. Then there’s Remy, the loudmouth, and Gemma, who’s more interested in college boys and getting into the crap club in town. And then there’s Elise: the pretty one.
But at the start of Year 11, when the group befriend the new boy, Elijah, things start to change. The group find themselves not as close as they used to be.
Until one Tuesday, when the students are trapped inside the school building. And one of them has a gun.

Close Your Eyes

* The Names They Gave Us - Emery Lord

Lucy Hansson was ready for a perfect summer with her boyfriend, working at her childhood Bible camp on the lake. But when her mom’s cancer reappears, Lucy falters—in faith, in love, and in her ability to cope. When her boyfriend “pauses” their relationship and her summer job switches to a different camp—one for troubled kids—Lucy isn’t sure how much more she can handle. Attempting to accept a new normal, Lucy slowly regains footing among her vibrant, diverse coworkers, Sundays with her mom, and a crush on a fellow counselor. But when long-hidden family secrets emerge, can Lucy set aside her problems and discover what grace really means?

The Names They Gave Us

* Countless - Karen Gregory

When Hedda discovers she is pregnant, she doesn’t believe she could ever look after a baby. The numbers just don’t add up. She is young, and still in the grip of an eating disorder that controls every aspect of how she goes about her daily life. She’s even given her eating disorder a name – Nia. But as the days tick by, Hedda comes to a decision: she and Nia will call a truce, just until the baby is born. 17 weeks, 119 days, 357 meals. She can do it, if she takes it one day at a time …

Countless

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda - Becky Albertalli

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

* The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

The Hate U Give

* Under the Same Sky - Mojgan Shamsalipoor, Milad Jafari & James Knight

The powerful and incredibly moving story of Mojgan Shamsalipoor and Milad Jafari – two young Iranian asylum seekers who are showing that the power of love can conquer all obstacles.  After fleeing their homeland, Australian refugee policies threaten to tear a young couple apart. An unforgettable story of love, hope and a quest for freedom. At seventeen, all Mojgan Shamsalipoor wanted was to be safe from physical and sexual abuse, go to school, and to eventually marry for love. In Iran, she was denied all of this. Milad Jafari was a shy teenage boy who found his voice as a musician. But the rap music he loved was illegal in his country. All Milad’s father, a key maker, builder and shopkeeper, wanted was for his family to live free from the fear of arrest, imprisonment or execution. To do that they all had to flee Iran.

Under the Same Sky - Mojgan Shamsalipoor

* 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 Whole Thing Together

 

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DEWEY’S 24 HOUR READATHON: APRIL 2017

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On the last day of April, I participated in my third 24 Hour Readathon. In April last year I participated, I dedicated the day to rereading some books that I had been wanting to read again for a long time. But in October(?) last year I decided to read books that were on my TBR that I had been putting off. Considering my TBR is on the slightly larger side recently and I have a lot of review books to tick off, I decided to do this again. I didn’t exactly have a TBR for the readathon before the day, but there were three books at the front of my TBR that had been there for a while, so I decided to choose them to read.

In Adelaide, the readathon began at 9:30pm Saturday night, but I had my grandfathers birthday. I wasn’t planning on doing any reading that night, but when I got home at 12am and couldn’t sleep, I decided to start my first book; INDELIBLE by Adelia Saunders. I read 100 pages before going to sleep.

When I woke up at 8.30 after a crap night sleep (thanks to my dog barking all night), I continued reading INDELIBLE and finished that last 170 pages. It was a quick read which was good, however, it wasn’t a fun read. You can check out my thoughts on the book in my April Wrap Up which I will link below, and since it was sent to me for review, I’ll have a full review up at the end of the month.

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Now, Sunday’s for me are usually spent doing nothing. I usually spend the whole day at home doing work, watching TV, or being bored and wishing I had something to do. But, of course, this Sunday I actually decided that I wanted to get out of the house (this weekend of all weekends!). So from about 10-2pm I was out, and when I came home I did some homework and played Sims (I’ve become addicted again).

Then later on I picked up my second book; THE BLUE CAT by Ursula Dubosarsky. This book was only 160 pages and I managed to finish it in the one sitting which was really good! I enjoyed this historical fiction set in 1940’s Australia, but it fell a bit flat for me. Once again, I talk about it in my wrap up and I’ll have a review up soon.

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I then spent some time procrastinating doing anything, eating dinner, playing Sims, and having a warm shower because the weather is starting to get really cool :). Eventually, I picked up MY SISTERS KEEPER by Jodi Picoult which I bought a while ago and have kept pushing it to the back of my TBR because it isn’t really a priority. This book is over 400 pages so I wasn’t planning on finishing it, but I wanted to make a dent. I ended up reading 200 pages and at 8.30pm I put it down because I wanted to do some writing since it was also the last day of Camp Nanowrimo. I’ll be talking about this book in my May wrap up since I haven’t finished it yet.

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So all together I read about 630 pages, and finished two and a half books. I’m really happy with this effort, and I’m so happy that I was able to make my TBR pile a bit smaller.

Comment below if you participated in the readathon and how you went.

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Here are the books I read;

 

Indelible - Adelia Saunders

Magdalena has an unsettling gift. She sees writing on the body of everyone she meets – names, dates, details both banal and profound – and her only relief from the onslaught of information is to take off her glasses and let the world recede. Mercifully, her own skin is blank.
When she meets Neil, she is intrigued to see her name on his cheek. He’s in Paris for the summer, studying a medieval pilgrimage to the rocky coast of Spain, where the body of Saint Jacques was said to have washed ashore, covered in scallop shells. Desperate to make things right after her best friend dies – a loss she might have prevented – Magdalena embarks on her own pilgrimage, but not before Neil falls for her, captivated by her pale eyes, charming Eastern European accent, and aura of heartbreak.

Indelible

The Blue Cat - Ursula Dubosarsky

A boy stood in the playground under the big fig tree. ‘He can’t speak English,’ the children whispered.
Sydney, 1942. The war is coming to Australia – not only with the threat of bombardment, but also the arrival of refugees from Europe. Dreamy Columba’s world is growing larger. She is drawn to Ellery, the little boy from far away, and, together with her highly practical best friend Hilda, the three children embark on an adventure through the harbour-side streets – a journey of discovery and terror, in pursuit of the mysterious blue cat …

The Blue Cat

My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult

Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate, a life and a role that she has never questioned until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to ask herself who she truly is. But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister – and so Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable, a decision that will tear her family apart and perhaps have fatal consequences for the sister she loves.

My Sister's Keeper

‘WINDFALL’ – Jennifer E. Smith

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Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes.

At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall.

As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined . . . and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.

 

Thanks to Macmillan for sending me an arc of Windfall and letting me be apart of the blog tour!

EEEEEEK! I just finished reading this five minutes ago and I loved it so much! I’ve been in a reading slump for so long mainly because every book I’ve picked up just hasn’t captivated me. It’s been so long since I read a book that captivated me and that I couldn’t put down. I started this at about 5pm last night and finished it and 1pm today!

The characters each had their own touching stories and this took over the main story line. Even though Teddy winning the lottery is the basis of the book, it isn’t the overall story. Alice’s parents died when she was little and her memories of them are getting grainier, she’s been in love with her best friend Teddy since she was little and he is beginning to slip from her grasp, and end of high school is approaching and she has college to think about. Teddy’s father ran out on him and his mum years ago and he only hears from him when he’s in money trouble, his mum works the night shift and he never gets to see her, and he’s just won the lottery and doesn’t know what to do with the money. And then we have Leo, and even though we don’t get as much from his character, he has just broken up with his boyfriend and lives in a constant paranoia because he has never experienced anything bad like his best friends.

Windfall

The story line was extremely captivating (which explained how I couldn’t put it down) but it was also a very simple story line. There wasn’t too much crazy stuff going on and it was easy to follow, which I love especially in YA contemporaries. Teddy winning millions of dollars in the lottery teaches a good lesson in this book; money can’t buy everything, but it sure can help a lot of people out. When Teddy first wins, he doesn’t know what to do with the money because he and his mother have been paying of his dad’s debts for years. And now he has enough money to buy anything that he wants, so for a while he goes a bit crazy with it. But when he realises that he can do a lot of good in the world with this money, it completely turns the story around. It’s not just a story about money and winning and greed anymore; it’s a story about love and compassion and good.

And then we have the friendship between the three main characters; Alice, Teddy and Leo. I love strong friendships between groups in books because I think it definitely adds a lot of depth to the story. Teddy would have to be my favourite character because he is a lot of fun, light hearted, and even though he’s been through a lot, he still likes to see the good in everything and everyone. We also had a bit of romance between Alice and Teddy, and I admired how Jennifer E. Smith didn’t make this the whole story, and in fact it was barely mentioned apart from the beginning and end… even though I was dying for them to get together the whole time!

I highly recommend everyone to read this incredibly fun, touching and important story! It made me think about a lot of things that I have never thought about, and it even made me question what I would do with the money if I won the lottery! I would like to think that myself (and a lot of others) would do good like Teddy!

APRIL 2017 WRAP UP

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Hello fellow readers!

Another month done and dusted, and we’re a third of the way through 2017?!? April was another decent reading month;
I read 10 books in total
7 books were for review (reviews coming soon)
2 were for uni
1 was for my own benefit, and it was a poetry book!

I also participated in Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon on the 30th and read two and a half books. A blog post will be up about that soon.

Comment below how your reading month was!

Milk and Honey - Rupi Kaur

milk and honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. It is about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose, deals with a different pain, heals a different heartache. milk and honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.

Everyone talks and posts about this poetry book and I’ve wanted to pick it up for so long. They finally had it in stock so I bought it and devoured it in a day because it made me feel so many emotions! I decided to tag all my favourite poems… which ended up being a majority of the book.
5 Stars.

Milk and Honey

Seven Days of You - Cecilia Vinesse

Sophia has seven days left in Tokyo before she moves back to the States. Seven days to say good-bye to the electric city, her wild best friend, and the boy she’s harbored a semi-secret crush on for years. Seven perfect days…until Jamie Foster-Collins moves back to Japan and ruins everything. Jamie and Sophia have a history of heartbreak, and the last thing Sophia wants is for him to steal her leaving thunder with his stupid arriving thunder. Yet as the week counts down, the relationships she thought were stable begin to explode around her. 

I liked this book, but I feel like it lacked a lot of things that would have made this a great story. I did a spoiler free review where I discussed everything in more detail, but it was a fun and quick contemporary read.
3 Stars.
Review:

Seven Days of You

Windfall - Jennifer E. Smith

Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes.

I loved this book! It had been such a long time since I had read a book that I really loved, but as soon as I picked this up I couldn’t put it down! I think I ended up finishing it in a day; it was fun and different and I think it was what I needed to read to get me back into that reading mood. More thoughts in my review!
5 Stars.
Review: May 4th

Windfall

The Upside of Unrequited - Becky Albertalli

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.
Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.
There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.

Another incredible book that I couldn’t put down. I also finished this in a day; it was diverse, I loved the romance, there was family aspects, and it was so much fun. I haven’t read Simon but I now own it and plan on reading it soon. More thoughts in my review.
5 Stars.
Review: May 12

The Upside of Unrequited

King's Cage - Victoria Aveyard

Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother’s web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.
As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.

Considering I didn’t really like the previous book in this series, I actually really liked this one. I was more interested in the story and I loved how Mare continued to develop throughout. More of my thoughts can be found in my review coming soon.
4 Stars
Review: 16th May

King's Cage (Red Queen, #3)

Mrs Dalloway - Virginia Woolf

Clarissa Dalloway, elegant and vivacious, is preparing for a party and remembering those she once loved. In another part of London, Septimus Warren Smith is shell-shock and on the brink of madness. Smith’s day interweaves with that of Clarissa and her friends, their lives converge as the party reaches its glittering climax.

I had to read this for my Intro to English: Ideas of the Real uni class. To be honest, I really couldn’t get into the story and I ended up skim reading it and just reading a summary. I was just bored and confused and I really didn’t like that it didn’t have chapters because I didn’t know when to put the book down.
2 Stars.

Mrs Dalloway

Middlemarch - George Eliot

Dorothea is bright, beautiful and rebellious and has married the wrong man. Lydgate is the ambitious new doctor in town and has married the wrong woman. Both of them long to make a difference in the world. But their stories do not proceed as expected…
Middlemarch contains all of life – the rich and the poor, literature and science, politics and romance – and is a stunningly compelling insight into the human struggle to find contentment

Another book I read for uni, this time for my ‘Lit and Society in Victorian Britain’ class. I didn’t hate this book; I enjoyed how we got the life stories of two different characters whose lives linked together, but not “too” together (as in they were from the same town but weren’t romantically connected as I initially assumed). It was just SO long and it dragged on (900 pages!) so I began to lose interest in the end.
3 Stars

Middlemarch

Close Your Eyes - Nicci Cloke

Southfield High School is oh so normal, with its good teachers, its bad, and its cliques. But despite the cliques, there’s a particular group of friends who have known each other forever and know that they can rely on each other for anything.
There’s the twins: Aisha, rebellious, kind, and just a tiny bit worried about what the hell she’s going to do once this year is over, and Vis, smart, quiet and observant. Then there’s Remy, the loudmouth, and Gemma, who’s more interested in college boys and getting into the crap club in town. And then there’s Elise: the pretty one.
But at the start of Year 11, when the group befriend the new boy, Elijah, things start to change. The group find themselves not as close as they used to be.
Until one Tuesday, when the students are trapped inside the school building. And one of them has a gun.

Overall, I really liked this book. I’ve never actually read a book based on a school shooting before so I found that really interesting to read about. I also enjoyed how it was told through different forms of communication; interviews, blogs, messages. It was a bit slow to begin with, but the mystery and suspense in the end made up for that.
4 Stars.
Review: May 19 (my birthday!)

Close Your Eyes

Indelible - Adelia Saunders

Magdalena has an unsettling gift. She sees writing on the body of everyone she meets – names, dates, details both banal and profound – and her only relief from the onslaught of information is to take off her glasses and let the world recede. Mercifully, her own skin is blank.
When she meets Neil, she is intrigued to see her name on his cheek. He’s in Paris for the summer, studying a medieval pilgrimage to the rocky coast of Spain, where the body of Saint Jacques was said to have washed ashore, covered in scallop shells. Desperate to make things right after her best friend dies – a loss she might have prevented – Magdalena embarks on her own pilgrimage, but not before Neil falls for her, captivated by her pale eyes, charming Eastern European accent, and aura of heartbreak.

Despite the blurb sounding really interesting when I first requested it for review, I read it and did not enjoy it at all. Luckily I read it during the 24 Hour Readathon and because it’s a short book I finished it quickly. If it wasn’t for that, I probably would have DNF’ed it because I wasn’t interested in the story or the characters. More details in my review.
2 Stars
Review: May 23

Indelible

The Blue Cat - Ursula Dubosarsky

A boy stood in the playground under the big fig tree. ‘He can’t speak English,’ the children whispered.
Sydney, 1942. The war is coming to Australia – not only with the threat of bombardment, but also the arrival of refugees from Europe. Dreamy Columba’s world is growing larger. She is drawn to Ellery, the little boy from far away, and, together with her highly practical best friend Hilda, the three children embark on an adventure through the harbour-side streets – a journey of discovery and terror, in pursuit of the mysterious blue cat …

I also read this during the 24 Hour Readathon and I managed to finish it in one sitting. It was a nice quick read that was able to educate me on the 40’s war time in Australia. There were some aspects to the story that I enjoyed, but it fell short for me due to the lack of character connection. More of my thoughts will be in my review.
3 Stars
Review: May 26

The Blue Cat

 

Comment below what your favourite book from April was, and what you plan on reading in May!

“Thirteen Reasons Why” and “13 Reasons Why” discussion!

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**disclaimer; I watched this series and wrote the following review when the show was first released almost a month ago and before all the hype and controversy. I’ve also watched it a second time with my mum since. I believe that this is a touching and real story about the affects of not only suicide, but how we treat people. It has got a lot of people talking which I think is a good thing, but there’s also people saying that it has done more harm than good for people who are depressed or having suicidal thoughts. If you are triggered by these types of things, then I highly suggest you don’t watch the show as it can be quite raw and graphic. 

 

***

 

Helloooo!

Today I’m doing something a little bit different because I just binge watched this Netflix show in three days and it’s given me all the feels and I just can’t move on until I let all my thoughts out. I’m going to quickly talk about my thoughts on the book Thirteen Reasons Why and then I’m going to go into a lot more detail on the TV show 13 Reasons Why and compare them a little bit too.

Please comment below if you’ve read or watched it because I would love to hear your thoughts!

I first discovered the book by Jay Asher when I was in high school (maybe 3-4 years ago) but I could never read it because it wasn’t stocked in any of my local book stores. The blurb sounded so intriguing to me and I wanted to read it so badly that I ended up reading a summary on the whole book and what/who the thirteen reasons were. Don’t freak out! Because by the time I got to the book, I couldn’t remember anything that I read about it… thankfully! I do with that I did read the book when I was in high school, or that the TV show was around then, because I feel like that was a time when I needed a story like this.

So last year I bought the book and ended up reading it in one day (I think I read it during a readathon) and this probably didn’t help my reading experience. I liked the book, don’t get me wrong, it just didn’t have as much of an impact on me as I hoped it would. I didn’t particularly like Hannah’s character (as terrible as that sounds) and I found the whole idea of the “reasons” tapes really awful and I couldn’t understand her aim in doing that.

And then the trailer for the Netflix show was released about a month before the actual episodes were being released (which made this whole process seem really quick) and I could tell just from the trailer that I was going to love it a lot more than the book. Just that once scene from the trailer where Clay slams his locker and screams, ‘BECAUSE EVERYONE IS SO NICE UNTIL THEY DRIVE A GIRL TO KILL HERSELF.’ I think that’s what got me hooked!

So I started the watching it on the Sunday and the first episode killed me. Even though I only read the book a year ago, I could only remember a few details of the story. That episode made me fall in love with Jackson – I mean, how cute was the scene where she hops of the bus and tells him she doesn’t catch the bus and then he’s just stuck there and he screams out the window ‘something something something, HANNAH BAKER!’ And then we’re faced with why he was on the tapes and I think he broke my heart a little bit.

Sunday and Monday I watched half the season, and then Tuesday I was sick in bed all afternoon so I watched the final six episodes back to front and I didn’t stop sobbing the whole time. How could you not?!

What I loved the most about the TV show was how real it was and how it didn’t sugar coat anything. However it could be triggering for a lot of people (there are trigger warnings before episodes with graphic scenes, but I HIGHLY recommend that if you are triggered by suicide/depression or anything along the lines, that you do not watch the show). Sometimes I think it’s really important for depression and suicide to be presented as accurately as possible, and I’m sure that it will get a lot of people talking! However, the word “depression” wasn’t mentioned at all, and it was obvious that Hannah was experiencing this throughout the course of the story. I feel like they definitely could’ve explored mental health a lot more throughout the show by mentioning the word “depression” and perhaps this will be something that they could explore with some of the characters if they do a season 2.

The main thing that made the TV show SOOOOOO much better than the book was that we got the perspective of all the characters from the tapes. It would’ve been pretty hard for a few hundred page book to do this, so I understand why Jay Asher wasn’t able to really explore this, but it definitely helped to understand their stories and grow connections to the other characters. Although they all did really shitty things, not only to Hannah, but we got to see that Hannah wasn’t the only one going through crap because each of these characters had their own story. And all these characters were so different and so diverse, as were there experiences; we had rape victims, people struggling with their sexuality, abusive and alcoholic parents, just to name a few! It was also really touching to see how they were coping with hearing their names on the tapes; for some of them, they were able to accept the fact and open up about their pasts, but for others, it only broke them.

As I mentioned before, I didn’t like Hannah’s character in the book, but the TV show was a completely different story. I don’t know if it was the actor who played her (she’s Australian by the way!) or if she was written just a bit differently, but I LOVED her! She was different, quirky, I admired her dry humour and she was a fun character to watch when I forgot about her story. She went through so much, as depicted on those tapes, and the sympathy I felt for her was inevitable.

And Clay was also portrayed amazingly! I felt sorry for him the most in the book, and that didn’t change much in the TV show. I understood why he took so long to listen to the tapes; he really was a lot different than the rest of those on the tapes and this really showed that. However, I don’t actually think that it took him as long to listen to the tapes as I originally thought. I think the events actually occurred over the course of just a few days (they kept saying the car accident with a particular character (no spoilers) happened a few weeks ago and that was before Hannah died), so my assumption is about a week.

This show broke me! I watched it right before I went to sleep, so I didn’t have much time to wrap my head around everything. But when I woke up the next morning, I was just so sad, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. I laughed, I cried, it made me think about a lot of things, it made me cry again, but most importantly I learnt a lot and it really made me think about how I treat people and that you never know what other people are going through.

Comment below if you’ve read the book or watched the Netflix show, and let me know your thoughts!

And if you’re going through a hard time at the moment, my Twitter DM’s are always open Xx