Wednesday, 20 September 2017

BLOG TOUR: A Dangerous Year by Kes Trester was a feisty, fun teenage espionage novel!

A Dangerous Year (Riley Collins, #1)
Seventeen-year-old Riley Collins has grown up in some of the world’s most dangerous cities, learning political strategies from her ambassador dad and defensive skills from his security chief. The only thing they didn’t prepare her for: life as an American teenager.
After an incident forces her to leave her Pakistani home, Riley is recruited by the State Department to attend Harrington Academy, one of the most elite boarding schools in Connecticut. The catch: she must use her tactical skills to covertly keep an eye on Hayden Frasier, the daughter of a tech billionaire whose new code-breaking spyware has the international intelligence community in an uproar.
Disturbing signs begin to appear that Riley’s assignment wasn’t the walk in the park she’d been promised. Now, Riley must fight for her life and Hayden’s, as those around her reveal themselves to be true friends or the ultimate betrayers. 

If you're looking for a book that is heart-stopping, fast-paced, filled with a cast of dynamic characters and outrageously need A Dangerous Year in your life. It's no secret that I adore espionage novels, especially ones where a teenage agent has to go undercover and disguise themselves as your typical high school teenager...and this book most definitely didn't disappoint. It had me gasping, laughing, swooning and biting my nails. A Dangerous Year kicked my adrenaline into gear and I loved every second of it.

A Dangerous Year is about Riley Collins. Daughter of an ambassador father and student of the defensive chief (and voluntary second father), Benson. After Riley rescues a girl from death in a bustling Pakistan market – and ends up injuring her attackers in the process – there's a price on her head and her potential demise is lurking in the cutthroat streets. After the incident, her father decides it's best to get her as far away from the danger as possible: he sends her to an elite, prestigious American high school...with a mission. What is that mission, exactly? To keep an eye on, and protect, Hayden Frasier, daughter of a billionaire whose software program is racking up a large mass of enemies. It should be fairly easy, right? However, as Riley navigates her new school, she soon finds that not everyone is who they first appear to be. Throw into the mix towering piles of homework, dreaded equestrian lessons and two boys vying for her attention, Riley has her work cut out for her. Shots will be fired, hearts will be broken and trust will be killed.

Okay so, I loved this book and I had an incredibly fun time reading it. Why don't I provide you with a list of all the things I loved about this book, because who doesn't like lists?

1) The Plot
As I said, if you mention teen espionage stories, I am there. I absolutely loved this book's storyline. An ambassador's daughter who has lived in several countries but never truly belonged, who has been trained in various martial arts and is incredibly smart, who then has to slot into life as your typical rich American teenager whilst trying to keep a billionaire's daughter alive. I'M SOLD. I adored all the spy elements that were included in this book. The software, the weapons, the gadgets – it's YA version of Kim Possible and I loved it. There were plot twists that had my jaw slack, there were moments where my heart was racing and I was practically biting my fingernails and there were moments where this read as your typical high school drama, complete with backstabbing, complicated love triangles and all the other obstacles high school throws at you. I loved how this book balanced Riley's double lives. Both aspects were incredibly interesting and her agent life, as well as her regular teenage life, were done superbly. ALSO, CAN WE TALK ABOUT THAT ENDING? I was clicking my kindle's button furiously, praying that that wasn't how it ended...but it was. Can I get the next one now? Pretty please? A Dangerous Year was intriguing, it was absorbing and it was fast-paced – what more could you want?

2) The characters
I LOVED THE CHARACTERS. I adored Riley. She's clever (I love it when books feature smart girls, we need more girls interested in tech in YA!), she's incredibly sassy, she's a chess champion, she's kind and brave but there's also something so likable and relatable about her. Perhaps it's the fact that she prefers reading a book and sitting on the couch stuffing her face with oreos on a Friday night than going out. Me too, girl, me too. I also love that she's not afraid to show the guys who's boss, she's not afraid to challenge them to wrestling matches (this girl's strength makes me want to hit the gym as soon as possible) and she's not afraid to challenge those in authority, if their motives begin to appear sinister. I absolutely loved Riley and I can definitely see her becoming one of my favourite protagonists!

I loved the other characters, too. There is Riley's dad who is kind, caring and offers the best advice and then there's Benson, who is the most precious, intimidating cinnamon roll ever. I know intimidating and cinnamon roll probably shouldn't be used in the same sentence, but if you read the book, I think you'll get where I'm coming from. Man, I really love Benson. He's probably my favourite character in the book. He's wise, he's hilarious, he's somewhat intimidating but he also has this sensitive, soft side that just made me love him even more. I absolutely adored the banter between the three, the wise words of wisdom they exchanged, the love and compassion and the brilliant family dynamics between the three of them. YAY FOR CLOSE FAMILIES IN YA BOOKS!

Then there are the other characters that were featured heavily in A Dangerous Year: Von, Stef, Sam and Hayden. I loved all of them. Stef quickly takes Riley under his wing in her first week of attending the academy, introducing her to the Harrington students' way of living. He's gay, has a flair for the dramatic, impeccable fashion sense and also a tendency to drown his sorrows in alcohol as the demons set loose by his wealthy, careless family dance with him. There's Hayden, who at first glance seems shallow, vain and unkind but who later reveals herself to be a lost girl with high, impenetrable walls, built from years of the betrayal and mistrust she's had to face. Then there are Von and Stef, the two love interests. DON'T GROAN about the love triangle, they're both adorable and hilarious. There's not just one guy for you to add to your book boyfriend list – but two! I loved all four these characters. By the end of the book, they all seemed quite different to how they were first introduced. I like that the author took time to peel back their layers and reveal their inner selves to the reader. 

3) The romance
The romance was subtle and it didn't feature that heavily in the book, which I know a lot of people will like. There was blatant flirting, banter that had me giggling and there were scenes where the chemistry was utterly sizzling between Riley and the boys. I loved her and Von's ease with one another but I loved watching the firework display of sparks that exploded between her and Sam...but I think I might ship her more with Von? I DON'T ACTUALLY KNOW. I LOVE THEM BOTH. I hope there will be more romance featured in the next book. I'm so ready for it.

4) The pace, the plot twists and the setting
As I mentioned earlier, the pace of this book was fantastic. You know you get those books that move super slowly or books that move so fast you feel as if you're caught in a whirlwind of activity and not in a good way? A Dangerous Year was perfectly paced. There were moments of relaxed ease as Riley settled into her surroundings, only for us to be catapulted into deadly car races and heart-stopping discoveries. I loved how the author managed the pace of this book. It was steady with charged moments of lightning-fast pace, which added a new level of thrilling to the book. I also adored the plot twists and I'm so excited to see where the author takes the characters in the next book. Like I mentioned above, after that ending, I desperately need the sequel. I also LOVED the setting. Rich boarding schools with plenty of secrets and rooms/closets filled with spy tech. THIS IS ALL I EVER WANTED

5) The dialogue
Oh, the dialogue in this book is brilliant. The flirty banter is absolutely brilliant and I whispered to myself “I ship it” more times than once due to the brilliant interaction between the characters. There were serious dialogues, wise dialogues and utterly hilarious dialogues and I loved every one of them. It felt natural and authentic and it made me love this book even more!

A Dangerous Year was utterly exhilarating and I tore through it. It's fast-paced, it has heart-stopping moments that caused adrenaline to course through my body, plot twists that caused me to slap my hand to my mouth, hilarious dialogue and a fantastic cast of characters that are so strong but simultaneously beautifully broken. It takes the elements of a high school teen drama and elements of a high-chase espionage movie and combines them to form the exhilarating and brilliantly fun A Dangerous Year. You don't want to miss this.

I give it: 4/5 cupcakes!

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Monday, 18 September 2017

Darkmouth by Shane Hegarty was monstrously magnificent and fan(g)tastically fun! (puns intended)

Title: Darkmouth
Series: Darkmouth #1
Author: Shane Hegarty
Pages: 403 Pages, Paperback
Publication: January 15th 2015, Harper Collins Children's Books
Source: Thank you to Harper Collins Children's for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review! 
Rating: 4/5 cupcakes!
There are towns where the border between our world and the world of monsters - properly called Legends - is thin. One of those towns is Darkmouth. 
There, our hero Finn is the son of the last remaining Legend Hunter - which means that one day soon he will be the last remaining Legend Hunter. 
Except he's a bit rubbish at it. And in a spectacularly unfortunate coincidence, the terrifying leader of the monsters is in the midst of planning an all out attack on earth... in Darkmouth.

When I read the blurb for this book, I had a hunch that I was going to love it and have a heck of a time reading it...and guess what? I WAS RIGHT. Darkmouth was outrageously funny and 100% thrilling. It was filled with hilarious, lovable characters, cracking dialogue and a gripping storyline. It's monster mayhem at its finest and it had me gripped in its claws from the very first page.

Darkmouth is about twelve-year-old Finn who loves animals and wants to be a vet...but who is instead spending his time training to be a Legend Hunter in order to save his village from the monsters (Legends) that have a tendency to run rampage around his town. Between training to become a full-time Legend Hunter like his father and trying not to die in the process, making friends with the new girl Emmie who is decidedly secretive about her and her father's business in Darkmouth...Finn has his hands full. And then of course there's the small matter of the Legends plotting a war against humanity in Darkmouth itself, but no biggie, right?

OKAY, so I loved pretty much everything about this book and I'm so excited to read the rest of the series. From the very first page, I knew I was going to love it. Why is that might you ask? Well, I love the way the author writes and I have a feeling that many middle-graders, teens and adults alike will love the writing. It's inviting, it flows smoothly and it has a magical kind of characteristic about it that makes the words come to life. 

After I had been enchanted by the writing, I was enchanted by the main character and all the other varying characters that pop up throughout Darkmouth. Finn is a precious cinnamon roll that needs to be protected at all costs and I LOVE him. He's not your typical hero that falls into the So Perfect I'm Practically Not Human category that a lot of fictional heroes fall into. He's not particularly good at wielding a Desiccator and he's not the most adept at fighting off a Legend, but he does try super hard so A+ for effort, right? There's also this inward struggle that wages inside Finn which was quite touching to see and it also helped define him as a three-dimensional character. He really wants to be a vet and help animals...but he also wants to be a Legend Hunter to please his father. I think there comes a point in every child's life where they want to do a certain thing but they also want to please their parents and those two things don't always go hand-in-hand and I really enjoyed that that aspect was explored. It gave the book a tender, more personal aspect which I liked.

The other characters were wonderful as well! I loved Emmie, Finn's new-found friend. She's curious and she talks a lot (girl, same) and she's an adorable character. Her and Finn's friendship was slightly rocky in this book which is understandable given the circumstances but I'm hoping to really see their friendship develop in the next few books! I also ADORED Broonie, the one Legend that featured quite heavily in this book. He reminded me of Dobby, just sassier, and I'm hoping he'll be a part of the sequels.

Another thing I really loved about this book was that Finn's parents were alive and heavily involved in his life. YA – and some middle-grade novels – have a tendency to most have parents that are either a) dead, b) completely absent or c) utterly horrible which makes no sense to me BUT Darkmouth didn't fall into that category – small mercies! I absolutely loved Finn's mother and Finn's relationship with her. He asked his mom for advice and was inspired by her and IT WAS ADORABLE. Finn's dad could be hilarious at times but sometimes I wanted to shake him for being so disappointed in my precious Finn who is gentle and caring and not particularly agile at fighting and doing Legend Hunter things. His dad put quite a lot of pressure on him to succeed and I thought it was great that the author included this aspect into the story as it's something a lot of kids might be able to relate to. I hope that by the end of the series Finn will listen to his heart and that his dad will support him with that.

The plot in this book was non-stop fun as well! There were several twists and turns and towards the end there may have been a few instances where I was gripping the book slightly too hard because it was intense, man. I absolutely loved that this book was able to surprise me and shock me and keep me on the edge of my seat the whole way through. I also adored the concept of this book. Like, monsters appearing through doorways in certain villages and needing Legend hunters to fight them off before they wreak havoc like eating people and stuff – doesn't that intrigue you?? IT INTRIGUES ME.

One last thing I absolutely LOVED about this book - and which was probably my favourite thing about Darkmouth - was the humour. Guys, I snorted and giggled so many times throughout this book. Finn was super sassy and sarcastic, his dad could be hilarious too and the banter between all the characters was utterly brilliant! One thing that I've found in a lot of the books I've read is the dialogue is often stilted and awkward but thankfully Shane Hegarty is brilliant at crafting excellent conversations between the characters. There were touching conversations, heated conversations, many hilarious conversations...and they were all done brilliantly.

Darkmouth is an incredible start to what I'm sure is going to be an incredible series! With lovable characters, hilarious one-liners, monsters and mayhem, Darkmouth contains so many marvellous elements that makes it a book that's very easy to fall in love with. I can't wait to sink my teeth into the sequels!

I give it: 4/5 cupcakes

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Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Ten books I swore to get to in my first two years of blogging...but still haven't got to

It is a widely accepted fact that bookworms have TBRs taller than Everest and not a lot of time to read. Generally because they're either searching books on Goodreads, photographing books, writing books and blogging about books and that's just the book-related activities - THEN THERE'S SCHOOL AND WORK AND CHORES WHICH MEANS LITTLE READING TIME. I've been blogging for five years and over the past HALF A DECADE, I've ended up with a TBR pile a mile long and I haven't read nearly enough of the books on there.

SO, I decided to share with you some of the books I swore I was going to get to in my first year of blogging and books I was desperate to read (and still am) I was initially going to write a blog post on my favourite books I read in my first year of blogging but then I decided to share the TBR I was desperate to get to during my first year of blogging. Five years later and I still want to read all these books. 

Of Poseidon (The Syrena Legacy, #1)

This was a book that circled the blogosphere during my first year and I so badly wanted to read it because it's a) about mermaids and b) it sounds like it has a SHIPpable romance. 

I guess I'll have to SEA myself out now. 

Here I am, WAVING goodbye...

I'll stop now.

Hourglass (Hourglass, #1)Timepiece (Hourglass, #2)Infinityglass (Hourglass, #3)

I used to absolutely love these covers and I think that's mainly why I wanted to read them if I'm being 100% honest with y'all. They sound pretty interesting too, though! Phantoms, hot guys, secret organisations and all that jazz - sign me up. 

For Darkness Shows the Stars (For Darkness Shows the Stars, #1)

IT'S BEEN FIVE YEARS AND I STILL CAN'T GET OVER THAT COVER. Look at it, it's beautiful. This is one book I need to own in hardback just so I can stare at it for a worryingly lengthy amount of time. I've also fallen in love with the sci-fi genre, whereas I was never keen on it before, so I think I'd enjoy it even more now. YAY. 

Defiance (Defiance #1)

I remember this book making huge waves in the blogosphere when it first came out. Thirteen-year-old me loved the cover and loved the premise and desperately wanted to read the book...but my library never got it in and it was always too expensive at the bookstores. SAD. TIMES. Fingers crossed I'll get to read it sometime.

The Catastrophic History of You and Me

This book sounds so good. It's about a girl literally dying of a broken heart after her boyfriend breaks up with her and about her finding out secrets about her life after she'd died and her trying to move on from the grieving process etc. IT SOUNDS REALLY INTERESTING.

The Archived (The Archived, #1)

I CAN'T BELIEVE I NEVER READ THIS THEN AND I STILL HAVEN'T READ IT NOW. I read a Schwab book two months ago (A Darker Shade of Magic, if you were wondering) and I LOVED IT and she's officially one of my new favourite authors. To think I was aware of her books four years ago already and never read them. SMH. ANYWAY, I have a plan to buy a Victoria Schwab book every month so I can slowly build up my collection. My library actually has this and I did take it out but after reading the library's copy of ADSOM, I realised I wanted to read my own copies so I could tab the heck out of them. Because I love tabbing (must not be confused with dabbing. Which I also do too regularly to be proud of. But that isn't relevant to this post).

Image result for dabbing gif

7. Revived by Cat Patrick

I used to be in LOVE with this cover. I always used to picture owning it in hardback and imagining it to look super cool because it's kind of got a 3D effect? I'm not mad on the cover anymore (and is it just me or does the person on the cover look like Katy Perry?) but this book still sounds SO INTERESTING. A girl dying and then being used as a test subject for a drug called Revive - a drug that brings someone back to life. It sounds so sinister and unique and GOOD.

8. These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1)

THIS COVER, THOUGH. I feel like I've said that for every book BUT SERIOUSLY, 2012 and 2013 were the years of book covers. This book received a lot of hype when it first came out and I would've read it if I had seen it at a bookstore or library but sadly, I never saw it in South Africa. I need to read this book - it's set in space. I LOVE SPACE.

9. MILA 2.0 - Debra Driza
MILA 2.0 (MILA 2.0, #1)

MILA 2.0 was also another book that I saw around the blogosphere a lot when it first came out and I was desperate to read it. 2012/2013 seemed to be a year rife with dystopia/sinister techy kind of books and I think 2012 was the year I really started getting into dystopian/apocalyptic books (hello, Divergent and The Hunger Games) and I added so many to my TBR. This book still sounds so interesting to me and I NEED to read it!

10. Legend by Marie Lu
Legend (Legend, #1)

I BOUGHT THIS WHOLE TRILOGY THIS YEAR. GO ME. I think I added this when I did because it was a dystopia and I was living for dystopia books at that time. This book still sounds amazing to me and I'm so excited to marathon the trilogy sometime soon!

Have you read any of these books? Which books did you add to your TBR in your first year of blogging and never get around to? 
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Monday, 11 September 2017

What I've Been Reading #20

Hello, everybody! 

I hope you're all doing well!

I'm doing good. I finished my volunteering this past Saturday and I'm quite sad it's over! I really loved working in the library. It was incredible seeing how much kids love reading, it was awesome chatting with the parents and kids and I loved meeting the other volunteers. I would probably never have met them otherwise and it's been so great getting to know so many different, interesting people! One of the parents I met actually had a South African wife and homeschooled their kids and they lived two minutes from our place in South Africa - small world, right?

I've barely read anything this month as I'm trying to get into a routine with school and I think by the end of the month I'll be in quite a steady routine and then I can start focusing on my blogging and reading routine! 

I'm also finally attending my library's young adult book club this week. We'll be discussing And I Darken - one of my favourite books ever - AND I'M SO EXCITED. I'm also meant to be starting ballet this Wednesday officially but I'm not sure how I'll be able to get there. Hopefully, I can organise a lift! 

I also ate a heck of a lot of sugary things last year, so I'm going to seriously try to get back into healthy eating this week. I also haven't worked out in ages because I've been sick and I'm still not feeling 100%. Here's to hoping that I feel completely like my old self by the end of the week so I can get back into the swing of things shortly!

Truly Madly Awkward

Truly Madly Awkward by Beth Garrod - ⭐.5

I only read one book last week but I absolutely loved it! I find that there aren't a lot of truly light-hearted, humorous YA books around so it was incredibly refreshing reading such a fun book! Sometimes we need a break from all the dark, heartbreaking books! 

If you want to read the rest of my thoughts, here is my review. 

13 Journeys Through Space and Time: Christmas Lectures from the Royal InstitutionA Dangerous Year (Riley Collins, #1)Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Woah, I can't believe I'm reading three books at once. WHO EVEN AM I?! I'm reading 13 Journeys Through Space and Time, which is a nonfiction book featuring summarised versions of the Christmas lectures that took place at the The Royal Institution. It's about stars, planets, time and all that fun stuff! I'm enjoying it because it doesn't hurt my brain reading it (always a plus) but then again, I wish they would explain a bit more why some of the stuff happens, instead of just general statements about the stuff that happens in the universe. It's still a pretty neat book, though.

I'm also one chapter into A Dangerous Year by Kes Trester and I'm hoping I'll enjoy it! I can't give much thought on it quite yet as I'm not very far into it. Fingers crossed I'll love it.

I was reading Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews but I've decided to DNF it after 27 pages. It's crude, there's bad language and there's a disgusting statement about church-going kids that I took serious offence to. It's such a pity as I was really looking forward to reading this.

Steelheart (The Reckoners, #1)I Capture the Castle

I'm SO excited to read these two!!! I feel like now - since it's getting colder - is the perfect time to snuggle up in bed with a fantasy book and a historical fiction novel. These two sound so amazing and I'm so excited to read them!

What books did you read last week, what are you currently reading and what is next on your TBR?
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Thursday, 7 September 2017

Truly Madly Awkward by Beth Garrod was utterly hilarious, fabulously fun and relatable

Truly Madly AwkwardTitle: Truly Madly Awkward
Series: Awkward #2
Author: Beth Garrod
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publication: September 7th 2017, Scholastic
Pages: 320 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you to Scholastic for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review! This has in no way affected my opinion of the book.
Rating: 4.5/5 CUPCAKES!
Bella Fisher is back - and is cool, calm and collected as ever. So: NOT EVEN REMOTELY. Her fledgling relationship with Hot Adam seems to have stalled mid-flight (he isn't really speaking to her), her big sister Jo has gone off to university leaving Bella to deal with ditzy Mum on her own, something is up with her best-friend-dynamic with Tegan and Rachel and horror of horrors, horrendous ex-boyfriend Luke has an ACTUAL MODEL as his new girlfriend. Mum opens up a doggy ice cream parlour - Give a Dog a Cone - which Bella is forced to help out at on Saturdays. Yes, dressed up as a dog. For some light relief she enters a radio competition to secure a performance from hot band of the moment The Helicans at her school - but another contestant begins turning into her sabotaging nemesis. Throw in a suspicious new lodger and the world's most chaotic dog agility course and you've got another truly hilarious, truly relatable and truly madly awkward story! 

I loved this book so much. I thoroughly enjoyed the first book but I absolutely adored Truly Madly Awkward. I devoured it, I stayed up way too late reading it and I embarrassed myself in public by laughing so hard the librarian asked me if I was okay. Don't read a Beth Garrod book in public because you will end up laughing hysterically and people will stare. YES, I SPEAK FROM EXPERIENCE.

Truly Madly Awkward was honestly so fun to read! There's always a worry when reading a contemporary that there won't be much of a plot and the story will move quite slowly but thankfully that wasn't the case at all in this wondrous instalment! Bella has quite a lot on her plate and, obviously, that's going to be accompanied by truly very awkward situations. In this book you will find:
  1. A high-stakes competition that, if she wins, will result in Bella's all-time favourite band playing at her school
  2. Her dearest mother has decided to open a dog ice cream parlour which sounds paw-sitively exciting and terrifying
  3. A new lodger staying in their house that is super stylish and quite allusive...maybe too much so
  4. Friendship drama
  5. Boy drama
  6. An ex who happens to be dating a model (isn't that fun?)
Throw all that together with an incredible main character, wonderful messages emphasised throughout the book, heart-warming writing and utter hilarity and you have Truly Madly Awkward - a book that will completely capture your heart. It was a roller coaster of a ride that had me laughing 85% time, had me cringing a few other times, had me saying “BELLA, NO!” more than once and there were a few moments that crushed my heart just a little bit. I was entertained throughout this whole book and I was completely invested in the story, feeling a whole variety of emotions. SO MANY FEELINGS.

Aside from loving the plot, I adored the characters – even more so than I did in the first book! I absolutely loved Bella. I think what I like most about her is how fearless she is in the challenging attempt to be oneself. Bella knows she can be awkward and she knows she gets into hilarious circumstances that are somewhat embarrassing but she embraces that. She even reaches a point in the book where she's completely herself with Adam and doesn't worry about appearing a certain way and she ends up having a better time because of that. It's such an important message that a lot of girls – myself included – need to hear. BE YOURSELF, because you're weirdly, wonderfully you. Bella is such an awesome character – she's funny, she's authentic, she's kind and loyal and so real. If she was real, we'd be best friends. In fact, saying “if she was real” feels sacrilegious in a way because to me she is a living, breathing human who is a good friend. That's a mark of wonderful story telling right there!

I loved the variety of other characters in this book as well! There are Teagan and Rachel, Bella's two best friends. I absolutely adore them and their friendship. They empower each other, they do everything they can to help one another and even when things go wrong between them (like all friendships experience)...they are there for each other. I loved this! YA books often have female protagonists who have a distinct lack of females friends in their life so it was incredibly refreshing reading about strong female friendships!

I love that there are strong family dynamics in this book, too! Bella and her older sister, Jo, are extremely close and I loved seeing that. I have an older brother and we're incredibly close so I loved seeing a strong sibling bond being featured in a YA book. Bella and Jo's banter was incredible and I found myself chortling at their interactions on several occasions! They were always there for one another, offering advice...and teasing one another in the process. I LOVED IT.

Bella and Jo's mom is also a prominent feature in this series and I love that we get to see even more of her in this book as she's such an entertaining, animated character. I love how she's involved in Bella and Jo's life and that they're involved in hers. I love that family is a key aspect of this book. 

Image result for ohana gif

I also love that Adam featured more in this book – HE'S SO ADORABLE AND FUNNY AND CUTE AND I LOVE HIM A LOT OKAY. I totally ship him and Bella as their relationship is so sweet, their banter is incredible and I loved the way Adam embraced all the crazy, comical situations that seemed to follow Bella around! My squealing largely intensified towards the end of the book and I did retrieve an odd look from my mother at one point but I JUST HAVE A LOT OF EMOTIONS SURROUNDING THOSE TWO, OKAY.

What else did I love about this book, you ask? WELL. I absolutely adored the dialogue (which I may have already mentioned). It was so funny and so real. Dialogue is one of the things that can either make me thoroughly enjoy a book or thoroughly dislike a book but Beth Garrod did a fantastic job of creating believable dialogue that was charming, witty and heart-warming!

I also loved how hilarious this book was. Like, it's funny. I was reading this book whilst I was volunteering and there was nobody in the children's section except a librarian and one or two other people and I started laughing at the outrageous events happening in the book. And then I tried to stop laughing, but when I tried to hold back my just burst ( loudly, very loudly) forth a few seconds later. I was laughing so hard the librarian asked me whether I was laughing or crying and if I was okay. Yes, it's that funny.

Another great aspect of this book is that pop culture and social media is mentioned! A lot of YA books I've read haven't featured much social media, which makes the book seem quite unrealistic as Twitter/Instagram/Youtube is such a huge part of our lives – especially young adults' lives. Bella mentions Instagram, Twitter and Taylor Swift (among other things) and it was all just so relatable! I uttered "so me!" throughout the majority of this book. I am Bella and Bella is me. 

Truly Madly Awkward was truly madly brilliant! Bella is an incredible protagonist and has one of the most charismatic and authentic voices in the YA genre at the moment. This book is outrageously funny, incredibly real and I loved every second that I spent reading it. With abundant humour, a dynamic cast of characters and more than a sprinkling of heart, Truly Madly Awkward is a must-read!

I give it: 4.5/5 CUPCAKES!

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Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Seven books I struggled to get into but ended up loving (hence why I have issues dnfing)

I have trust issues when it comes to books that I find hard to get into because one of two things happen. I either a) end up loving the book and thanking myself that I didn't cave and DNF or b) kicking myself for wasting time reading 400 pages of a book that I ended up hating, or worse, feeling apathetic about. 

There have been several books that I struggled to get into - a fair few of these that I was contemplating DNFing - and ended up loving...then on the other hand there are several books that I struggled to get into and struggled to get through. However, it's because of the books that I ended up loving that I'm now super wary about DNFing...because what if it ends up being a firm favourite?!

Don't let it be said that the nerd life is the easy life. 

So, without further ado, let's get into the seven books I loved but really struggled to get into...

THIS BOOK. There was a lot of hype in the blogosphere about it at one stage so I then decided to give it a go (naturally) even though I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I feel like this is also one of the first YA books I ever read so maybe that's why it also took me a while to get into it? ANYWAY. I hated the first 80 pages and I was very near to DNFing it, SO CLOSE, but I decided not to AND IT WAS THE BEST DECISION OF MY LIFE. After the first 80 pages, I was completely sucked into the story. I cried (read: I bawled my eyes out. In the dentist waiting room. Awkward doesn't even begin to describe it) and I felt SO MANY EMOTIONS and it ended up being one of my favourite books ever. It's because of this book that I'm wary of DNFing. Thanks, book.

I utterly love Cassandra Clare's books but I used to find them so hard to get into and I'm not particularly sure why this is. I first read The Infernal Devices and although I absolutely adored them it took me a long time to get into them. City of Bones, City of Ashes and City of Glass all took me quite awhile to get into as well...I don't know if it's maybe because Cassandra Clare details her books hectically and it's hard for me to get into that but I don't know. I love these books but I wasn't sucked into them from page one.

This book was epic and it's definitely one of the best theology books I'm sure I'll ever read. It's creative and it's mind-blowing but gosh, it's hard to get into. The ideas and thoughts were quite abstract and his writing style wasn't very concise so I often had to spend time picking apart his sentences trying to figure out what he was expressing but when I did, it was great and kind of life changing, to be honest.

I will squawk about my love for this book until the cows come home (where does that saying even originate from??). By the time I had finished it I had laughed, cried and nearly fell off of my bed from shock numerous times, however, it took me around 200 pages to fully get into this book. It's formatted quite differently to most books and it took me awhile to get used to that but boy, once I did, I was utterly hooked. 

I FREAKING LOVED THIS BOOK (and the whole trilogy, you should go read it asap). I struggled to get into this book for the first 20-30 pages and I'm not particularly sure why. I think it's perhaps because there are quite a lot of important characters, all with story lines that are essential to the plot so I think it was because I had to try to keep track of that? I CAN'T REMEMBER. All I know is that the writing is brilliant, the plot is brilliant, all the story lines of the characters are brilliant and YOU NEED TO READ IT, BASICALLY.

Fun fact (okay, not really "fun" but FACT IT IS): I never used to like Sarah Dessen's books, which made me super sad as pretty much everyone had crowned her the queen of contemporary books and I just wasn't getting the hype. I had read Dreamland and The Moon and More and I disliked both of them. I was near to throwing in the towel...but I persevered. There is nothing more determined than a reader who wants to love a hyped author (or maybe that's just me). So the next book of hers I picked up was This Lullaby and I don't think I loved it at first but more than halfway through I fell in love with it...and all her other books I've read since, I've adored. YAS. FINALLY.

I loved this book from the start but I did find Ray Bradbury's writing a bit unusual to most books I've read so it took me awhile to familiarise myself with it and fully get stuck into the story but once I did....I loved it so much and it made me think so much and AHHH, it's so brilliant!

Which books did you struggle to get into but ended up loving? Do you have issues with DNFing? Has there ever been a book you almost DNFed but ended up loving? Let's chat!
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Friday, 1 September 2017

August Wrap-Up and September TBR

I think literally every monthly wrap-up I've ever written on this blog has begun with "HOW THE HECK IS IT THE NEXT MONTH ALREADY" and why break the tradition?

Seriously, HOW THE HECK IS IT SEPTEMBER ALREADY? How is summer over? How is the start of a new school year? HOW ARE THERE ONLY THREE MONTHS LEFT OF 2017??? Excuse me while I have a mini existential crisis. 

August was a month that passed in a blur and looking back, I feel like I didn't actually do much last month even though I was a weird month. I got a lot of things done but I feel like I accomplished nothing - don't worry, it doesn't make sense to me either. 😂I started school mid-August but I haven't really got into a proper routine as there were several days I didn't do school because I was visiting friends or doing things but I scheduled my school work to start from the 4th of September so any work that was done before then means I got ahead of schedule which is great. Do I get an A+ for planning?

I also got my AS level results back this month and I'm quite divided about it. I got 92% in English which I'm so proud of but I got a B grade in maths which I'm quite sad about. I did teach myself so taking that into consideration I guess it's a good mark? I also got my papers back and I made stupid, tiny errors which although I'm kicking myself about, it also makes me feel better because it shows I knew the work but I was just making small errors here and there. I'm going to be rewriting the papers next year so I'm going to have to revise all that work again which is not fun.

September until December is going to be super busy with school and studying as I'm hoping to finish my maths and English work by December the 15th and hopefully physics, too! Physics might take longer though, so I think I might only finish all my coursework for that in January/February. I want to try to finish by December though because we're looking at visiting South Africa December/January which I'm SO EXCITED about! I'd like most of my school work to be done by that time so that I won't have to stress about it whilst I'm on my break. Would you guys like to see a post about my homeschooling schedule/textbooks/workspace etc?

I've also really gotten back into my art! After finally seeing Wonder Woman last week (IT WAS ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE AND IT'S MY NEW FAVOURITE MOVIE ASHLJKGSHD) I was inspired to get back into drawing (they had images of the comic book characters in the beginning of the movie so I was like YAS MUST CREATE) . Hobby Craft had a half-price sale on most of their art supplies so my dad and I bought me some art supplies which is awesome! I've been wanting to get into watercolour painting so I bought me some paintbrushes that can be used for detailed paintings (I only had quite big paintbrushes which weren't really helpful for what I wanted to paint) and I bought new watercolours which is super exciting! I also got a £1 A5 sketchbook from The Works and I was expecting it to be bad quality but it's AMAZING. The watercolours don't even make the paper soggy and it's not even a watercolour sketchpad. WHAT IS THIS SORCERY?!

My family and I also went to a beautiful canal near to where I live this past Sunday, which was so much fun! It was a gorgeous summer's day, I was reading Wonder Woman and I had tortilla chips and chocolate buttons - what more does one need in this life?

This past week has been kind of sucky though as I've been really sick with a cold. I had a fever and a sore body on Tuesday which luckily passed but since then I've been sitting with sneezing, watery eyes, a headache and a sore chest. I AM NOT A HAPPY CAMPER. It literally looks like I'm crying 24/7 and my stupid eye keeps watering which isn't the most attractive look haha! I took this week off from school to fully recuperate so I'm hoping I'll feel right as rain by Monday when all the hardcore school work starts!

The Here and NowHow to Fly with Broken WingsBatman: R.I.P.Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons, #1)Carve the Mark (Carve the Mark, #1)The Nowhere EmporiumFahrenheit 451Contagion (Dark Matter, #1)Ink and Bone (The Great Library, #1)

*Click the link to read my review!*
The Here and Now💛💛💛 | How to Fly with Broken Wings - 💛💛💛💛 | Batman R.I.P. - 💛💛.5 | Wonder Woman: Warbringer💛💛💛💛.5 | Carve the Mark - 💛💛💛💛💛 | The Nowhere Emporium💛💛💛💛.5 | Fahrenheit 451 - 💛💛💛💛.5 | Contagion - 💛💛💛💛.5 | Ink and Bone - 💛💛💛💛.5

I'm quite happy with the amount of books I read! August was a busy month for me in terms of school, socialising and dabbling in my other hobbies (read: painting and sketching). I absolutely LOVED Carve the Mark, Contagion, The Nowhere Emporium, Fahrenheit 451 and Wonder Woman - they were so good! I wasn't expecting to love CtM as much as I did but boy, oh boy, I absolutely adored it and I'm dying for the sequel. Contagion was super fast-paced and gripping and I couldn't put it down. The Nowhere Emporium was utterly margical and I adored it muchly. Fahrenheit 451 was so thought-provoking and incredible - I NEED more Bradbury books in my life! Wonder Woman was fantastic, I was a bit disappointed with two aspects but otherwise it was absolutely amazing! The Here and Now and Batman R.I.P. were very disappointing and How to Fly with Broken Wings was almost a DNF but then I ended up giving it 4 stars - yay for cute middle-grade reads! Ink and Bone was fantastic as well! I loved the cast of characters, the writing and the storyline! I NEED the sequels.

Carve the Mark (Carve the Mark, #1)

Batman: R.I.P.

I was so confused. I am still confused. I have no idea what I read.

Will I be able to read all of these this month? Probably not. Will I try to? YOU BETCHA. They all look so fantastic and I'm SO EXCITED to read them! I might return the V.E. Schwab books though as I want to purchase them for my shelves and read my own copies so I can tab ALL THE THINGS. I received several review copies this week that I need to review so I'm going to try reading The Murderer's Ape, Anne of Green Gables and Truly Madly Awkwardly asap! 

Have you read any of these? Did you enjoy them? What book will you DEFINITELY be getting to this month? LET'S DISCUSS!
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