Thursday, 12 October 2017

TBR | October 2017

I know we're already well into October now so I'm very late sharing my TBR but with the lead up to Halloween I thought I would share some of the seasonally appropriate books I plan to read in the next few weeks. I absolutely love reading thrillers around this time of year and have been stocking up on some throughout the year to pick up this month. I am super busy at the moment though so I may struggle with this list, I suppose this is not so much a TBR as 'books I think I might like to pick up this month'.

The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook - This is her newest book being published in October, and after quite enjoying With Malice I can't wait to get to this one. I already have a copy of this through Netgalley so this is one I definitely need to get to this month. I really don't know what this is about but I know it involves a tarot card reader and a kidnapping.

You by Caroline Kepnes - I have been desperate to pick this up for the longest time but have never gotten around to it. This is my top priority for this month. All I know about this is it's about a guy who stalks a woman he meets in a bookstore and it is written in second person.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn - This is the last of Gillian Flynn's currently published works that I have to read and is another one I have been desperate to read for a while now, definitely about top priority. This is about a journalist who returns to her home town to cover the murder of two young girls and if faced with her own past that she has to deal with.

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty - I have had this sitting on my shelves for so long and still haven't picked it up. I have heard such great things about Liane Moriarty's writing, particularly recently with the success of the adaptation of another of her novels, so I am excited to get to this one. This is about a woman who finds a letter written by her husband, for her to open after he has died, which reveals his darkest secret. However, he is still alive.

Those are the four that I definitely would like to pick up if I have the time. However, I do have some more on the list that I would like to pick up if I get to all of them (not likely). This is where I need some help. Which of these books do I absolutely need to pick up if I have some extra reading time this month? The list includes:

What are you planning on reading this month? Do you like to read thrillers around the Halloween season?

Sophie :)

Monday, 9 October 2017

Review | Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Image and video hosting by TinyPicThirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Published On: August 6, 2009 (Originally 2007)
Published By: Penguin Random House
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 288
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
Rating: ★★

Amazon | Goodreads

You can't stop the future. You can't rewind the past. 
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play. Clay Jensen returns home from school one day to find a mysterious box with his name on it, outside his front door. Inside he discovers a series of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker - his classmate and crush. Only, she committed suicide two weeks earlier. On the first tape, Hannah explains that there are 13 reasons why she did what she did - and Clay is one of them. 
If he listens, Clay will find out how he made the list - what he hears will change his life forever.

*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

I think I must be one of the last people to read this book. There has been hype surrounding this book since I first got into reading and it was one of the first books I ever read a sample chapter of back when it was first popular. More recently, though, with the success of the TV adaptation, the hype surrounding this book has been so crazy I felt like I had to read it to see what all the fuss was about. I mean, surely all those people couldn't be wrong, I was obviously going to love this, right? Sadly, not.

I am one of the apparently quite few people who did not love this book. In fact, I really disliked this book. I had heard some negative things in the midst of all the love so I didn't go in with very high expectations, however I was sadly still disappointed. 

This book is obviously about the thirteen reasons why Hannah decided to commit suicide. You would think, given that premise, that Hannah would be the kind of character you would feel compassion for and just generally like. Maybe I'm just heartless but I couldn't stand Hannah. She was probably one of the most annoying main characters I have ever read about and I just couldn't bring myself to feel compassion for her. Of course it was horrible that she felt the need to commit suicide, but I really didn't care about all of her problems.

I found Hannah's reasons for committing suicide completely ridiculous. I do feel quite heartless for saying that but it is true. There were a few 'reasons' explained in the tapes that were understandable and I could definitely see where the harm was cause but the majority of them seemed unreasonable. It just seemed to me that the ultimate reason for Hannah committing suicide was 'life is hard sometimes and people can be mean'. I could completely understand horrific bullying reaching such an outcome but I know a lot of people who would wish they were treated the way Hannah was rather than what they are dealing with. Maybe I missed the point but it seemed completely unreasonable to me.

While I understand they are essentially what makes the story what it is, I really did not like the idea of the tapes. These tapes that Hannah was essentially threatening people with beyond the grave, as well as Hannah's suicide in general, seemed almost like revenge. It felt to me like she was trying to get back at all these people for the things they had done to her by committing suicide and making sure they knew their part in it. It was uncomfortable to read about and, in my opinion, provided a very unhealthy representation of suicide and mental illness.

The one redeeming quality of this book for me was Clay. Clay was the only reason I didn't DNF this book. I found him and the way he handled this situation he was thrust into fascinating. I really felt for him throughout the book and thought the way he was so invested in the tapes and following Hannah's story said a lot about him as a character. I highly doubt I would have finished this book if it hadn't been for him.

Overall, I was incredibly disappointed in this book. For still being so popular over 10 years after first publication, I expected the hype surrounding it to be deserved. I definitely did not expect to dislike it as much as I did. Like I said, maybe I just missed the point but this book was most definitely not for me.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Review | There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

Image and video hosting by TinyPicThere's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins
Published On: October 5, 2017
Published By: Pan Macmillan
Genre: YA, Horror
Pages: 289
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
Rating: ★★★★

Amazon | Goodreads

Over a year after her parents sent her away from Hawaii to live with her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska, Makani Young is still adjusting to her new life. She's made a small group of close friends and even flirted with romance, but her past in Hawaii is still hard to forget. 
And then . . . one by one the students of her new high school begin to die in a series of gruesome murders. Makani doesn't know who's next on the list. Between this, and a secret scorching relationship with the school weirdo, this school year may turn out to be one to die for . . . literally.

*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

As Stephanie Perkins is one of my favourite authors of all time, of course this was possibly my most anticipated release of the year, meaning I had very high expectations going into it. There's Someone Inside Your House is very different to any of her previous work. She is so good at writing adorable contemporary romance stories that I love, so I was a bit unsure of how I would feel about a horror novel, something I don't typically pick up otherwise.

I feel like this book is a good introduction to the horror genre if, like me, you would normally gravitate towards a cute contemporary. It was very much like a contemporary novel with horror elements thrown in, which made it almost more familiar to me and less out of my comfort zone.

Surprisingly, I really loved the horror elements of the story. I honestly did not expect those to be the parts I enjoyed the most but I found it to be perfectly gory and creepy. I liked that the book wasn't filled with constant horror and gore but I found myself getting excited when I could tell those things were coming. I especially loved all of the creepy, interesting death and methods of killing people. Maybe I'm more of a horror fan that I like to think.

I also found it very surprising, especially for a Stephanie Perkins novel, that I didn't really like the romance. There wasn't anything particularly bad about it, the characters were fine together and it was written well, but it just didn't seem very necessary to the story. It was almost as though she was trying too hard to add in the cute relationship that she has become known for when I think the book would have been just as good without that aspect.

While I wasn't the biggest fan of the romance, I did really love the friendships. There is a really great friendship group in this book that I loved reading about. I want another book just about this friendship group before the events of this story. I especially loved that the friendship group included a transgender character, Darby, who was probably my favourite character and I so badly wanted more of him in the book, particularly as Stephanie Perkins' previous books have not had the most diverse cast of characters (please correct me if I'm wrong but no characters come to mind).

The biggest issue I had with this book was the focus on Makani's huge secret. We were constantly reminded about her troubled past and the huge secret that made her leave Hawaii. I was fed up hearing about this huge secret. It was built up so much that I expected something massive and I was incredibly disappointed. It was just odd and not necessary to the story. It felt like it was added in to the story to make the book a bit longer, fill up some extra space, but add nothing to the story.

I found it very odd that the killer was revealed half way through the book. I had to reread that part a couple of times to make sure I wasn't missing something. It took away from the mystery of the story but I did still enjoy the second half of the book despite knowing who the killer was. I just found it very strange, particularly as that has never happened in any mystery books I have read before so I was not expecting it.

I was expecting, however, a lot of things that happened in the book. It was a pretty generic 'slasher movie' plot and a lot of it was quite predictable. There were a lot of things that I could see coming from very early on in the book, like the ending, and I wasn't surprised by any of the deaths. The one thing I didn't see coming was the reveal of who the killer was.

Overall, I did really enjoy this book but with my expectations being so high, I did judge it very harshly while reading. I think it was a good first attempt at a horror novel and I am definitely interested to see what else Stephanie Perkins can write in this genre. I would like to read more horror from her but perhaps with less of a contemporary feel. However, this was a good starting point for me to branch out into more of the genre. I would say this is a perfect Halloween read and great for anyone who enjoys a good slasher film.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Wrap Up & Haul | September 2017

As you may have been able to tell from lack of blog activity throughout September, I have had yet another super busy month. Luckily, I went on holiday at the beginning of the month and read a few books during my time away as I haven't had the chance to pick up another book since coming home on September 10th! It would seem starting back at uni and going straight back out onto placement has taken all of my time. Even as I'm writing this I should really be doing a whole pile of uni work! Things have been so busy lately but hopefully I can get back into the swing of things soon. With September being so busy, I only managed to read 3 books, and DNFed one.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Image and video hosting by TinyPic Image and video hosting by TinyPic Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Onyx by Jennifer L Armentrout -
This book took me forever to get through! This is the second book in the Lux series, which follows Katy who finds out she has moved in next door to a family of aliens. I really enjoyed the first book but sadly this one was not as good. Some aspects of the story I still enjoyed but for the most part I found it to be kind of boring and just didn't have the desire to keep picking it up. After reading this book, I don't think I will pick up the rest of the series.
Rating: 3/5 | Review | ATY Challenge: #18 A really long book (Lux: Beginnings)

There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins -
This was my most anticipated book of the year but probably the book that I was most wary to pick up. This is completely different from anything Stephanie Perkins has written before as it is a slasher movie style horror novel in which high school students in a small town are being killed off one by one. I am not the biggest horror fan so I wasn't sure if I would enjoy this but I ended up loving it. It read more like a contemporary with horror elements, which I think was good as an introduction to the genre, but I could have done with a bit more of a horror feel. There were some aspects of the story I felt were unnecessary but overall it was a very enjoyable read. I would definitely be interested in reading more of her writing in this genre in future.
Rating: 4/5 | Review To Come

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher -
With the insane hype surrounding this book following the success of the TV show, it seemed about time that I picked it up. This book is basically the story of why one girl in high school decided to kill herself and is told in the form of tapes she has recorded and sent to the people she feels have played a part in her decision. Despite so many people loving this book, I really did not enjoy it. I hated Hannah and thought the reasons she gave for committing suicide were ridiculous for the most part. To me, this book was basically saying 'life is hard sometimes' is a reason to kill yourself. I don't think this was a good representation of suicide or mental illness. If it wasn't for Clay's character, I probably wouldn't have made it to the end.
Rating: 2/5 | Review To Come

Behind The Song by KM Walton -
When I saw this anthology on Netgalley, I requested it straight away as the premise sounded so interesting. It features stories from various YA authors and musicians inspired by songs. Unfortunately, this book just wasn't for me and I only managed to read the first three stories (well, I DNFed both the second and third) before giving up altogether. I expected this to be more about music when actually the stories, or at least the ones I read, turned out to be odd and a little pointless. I guess I just didn't get it.
Rating: DNF

Being so busy in September also meant not buying any books at all! I did, however, receive some books for review, both via Netgalley and from authors themselves.

The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook - I read and enjoyed her book With Malice earlier this year and this one seems like the perfect October thriller read.

36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You by Vicki Grant - A YA contemporary involving a psychology study bringing a couple together. 

The Story Of Lizzy & Darcy by Grace Watson - A modern day adaptation of Pride & Prejudice featuring two female main characters.

White Water, Black Death by Shaun Ebelthite - A thriller which takes place on a cruise ship and seems to involve a secret Ebola outbreak and a mysterious death.

Swan Song by Charlotte Wilson - A YA contemporary set in London featuring ballet.

Simple Soul Of Susan by Noel Branham - A chick-lit/romance about a woman who was in love with her childhood best friend but her life took her on a different path and away from him.

That was September for me. Not the best reading month, little in number and a few disappointments, but hopefully October will be better. How was your reading month in September?

Sophie :)

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Mini Review | Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Image and video hosting by TinyPicEverything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Published On: September 1, 2015
Published By: Corgi Children's
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 310
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★★

Amazon | Goodreads

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.
But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.
Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

So much hype!
This book had a crazy amount of hype surrounding it when it was first published and that hype never really died down. Unfortunately, due to the hype, I went into this book with super high expectations and ended up a little disappointed. For me, this was just an average read.

Loved the way this was written.
I absolutely loved the format in style in which this was written. I loved the sketches and diagrams but even just the layout of the text on the page was done in such a creative way. It was so creative and beautiful that it really added to the feel of the book.

I didn't love the characters.
I'm not even sure exactly what my problem was but I just didn't like any of the characters. I wasn't a huge fan of Maddie or Olly and I hated Maddie's mum from the first page. Probably the only character I didn't dislike was Carla. The other characters just annoyed me mostly.

The plot didn't blow me away.
A lot of the hype surrounding this book was relating to the great plot and fun twists. I ended up not particularly loving the plot. I thought a lot of things that happened were pretty stupid and not particularly realistic, and the rest I found a bit boring.

That ending!
I hated the ending of this book almost as much as I hated the ending of Gone Girl. I was so angry at the way the ending was dealt with and the fact that there were not appropriate repercussions. I found the very end to be anti-climactic considering the dramatic plot twist previously, I was just generally disappointed.

Overall, I absolutely love Nicola Yoon's writing style but, like I mentioned in my review of The Sun Is Also A Star, I never love her stories as much. I want to love everything she writes because I love how it is written but there's just something that I don't enjoy about her stories themselves. I will continue to pick up her books, hopefully one day I'll find something I love.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Mini Review | Onyx by Jennifer L Armentrout

Image and video hosting by TinyPicOnyx by Jennifer L Armentrout
Series: Lux #2
Published On: June 3, 2012
Published By: Entangled Teen
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Pages: 366
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★★

Amazon | Goodreads

Being connected to Daemon Black sucks… Thanks to his alien mojo, Daemon’s determined to prove what he feels for me is more than a product of our bizarro connection. So I’ve sworn him off, even though he’s running more hot than cold these days. But we’ve got bigger problems.
Something worse than the Arum has come to town… The Department of Defense are here. If they ever find out what Daemon can do and that we're linked, I’m a goner. So is he. And there's this new boy in school who’s got a secret of his own. He knows what’s happened to me and he can help, but to do so, I have to lie to Daemon and stay away from him. Like that's possible. Against all common sense, I'm falling for Daemon. Hard.
But then everything changes… I’ve seen someone who shouldn’t be alive. And I have to tell Daemon, even though I know he’s never going to stop searching until he gets the truth. What happened to his brother? Who betrayed him? And what does the DOD want from them—from me? No one is who they seem. And not everyone will survive the lies…

Not as good as book one.
I quite enjoyed the first book in the series, but for me this second book just wasn't as good. It felt very similar to the first book and I didn't feel that the story developed as much as I would have liked.

To be honest, I was a little bored.
I didn't feel that this book was as exciting as the first. There wasn't as much happening, in my opinion, and the major plot points that were meant to be the big exciting parts of the story just weren't that exciting. I found it pretty boring, hence why it took me a good month and a half to finish.

Pretty predictable.
With all of the big plot twists and mystery reveals throughout this book, I don't think anything particularly surprised me. I seen almost everything coming. I think that may be another reason I was a bit bored when reading this.

Katy and Daemon couldn't get more annoying.
I was all for this romance and the 'will they get together or not?' aspect of the first book, however by this one I was just fed up of it. They spent yet another whole book debating whether or not they like each other and should get together. I just didn't care anymore, it was annoying.

Oh wait, let's add in a love triangle!
Yes, the one way to make Katy and Daemon more annoying, add in another love interest. As if this series isn't compared to Twilight enough, Jennifer L Armentrout felt the need to add in an unnecessary love triangle. It just wasn't needed, there were other ways to introduce new characters and involve them in Katy's life without making him the next Jacob Black.

I think my relationship with this series is over.
As much as I enjoyed the first book, I didn't enjoy this book enough to want to read more of this story. I don't think I will be picking up the rest of the books in this series, mainly as I don't really care enough anymore.

Overall, while I enjoyed the first book in this series, the second was just an average read for me. There were more things that annoyed me about this book than things I particularly enjoyed and, to be honest, I'm already starting to forget things that happened. I don't think I will be picking up the next book in this series, at least not for a good while.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Review | Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins

Image and video hosting by TinyPicSummer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins
Published On: June 2, 2016
Published By: Pan Macmillan
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Anthology
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★★

Amazon | Goodreads

Maybe it's the long, lazy days, or maybe it's the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.

Summer Days and Summer Nights is the second anthology edited by Stephanie Perkins featuring twelve summer romances, following on from My True Love Gave To Me featuring twelve holiday romances. I have chosen to rate and review each story individually, with the overall rating above the average rating of all twelve stories.

Head, Scales, Tongue, Tale by Leigh Bardugo - This was a huge surprise for me. This story is about two teens who develop a relationship over a series of summers while searching for a lake monster reported to live in the local lake. I usually dislike the stories that include elements of fantasy and magical realism but I actually really enjoyed this one. It was very out of my comfort zone but it has made me want to pick up more from Leigh Bardugo, whose books I was never interested in before. 3.5/5

The End Of Love by Nina Lacour - Sadly, this one was a disappointment. I had heard such great things about Nina Lacour's writing so I really wanted to love this story. Unfortunately, I found it boring. It's about a girl who decides to retake a class during summer in order to get out of the house as her parents are getting a divorce. Also taking the class is a girl our main character has perviously had a crush on. This story features one of my biggest dislikes in books; children being incredibly selfish and thinking the world revolves around them when their parents divorce. That, although not the main point of the story, ruined it for me. 2/5

Last Night At The Cinegore by Libba Bray - This was a very weird story. Kevin works at a movie theatre and on the final night before it closes, his last shift working with his crush Dani, a lot of crazy stuff starts happening. Horror isn't really my thing and this was definitely horror. Some really weird, creepy stuff went on in this story and is definitely not the kind of thing I would usually read. It was written incredibly well, and I did enjoy it somewhat, but it really wasn't my thing. 2.5/5

Sick Pleasures: For A and U by Francesca Lia Block - This was the most confusing story of them all for me, about a boy and girl who meet one night and romance ensues. It was very average and not particularly interesting but the use of first initials instead of names just confused matters. It was enjoyable enough but nothing special. 3/5

In Ninety Minutes, Turn North by Stephanie Perkins - It's really no surprise for me that this was my favourite of the anthology. This story follows the same characters we were introduced to in Stephanie Perkins' story in My True Love Gave To Me. I loved revisiting those characters and seeing how their relationship progressed. It was just as cute and adorable as I expected and having been introduced to the characters previously really helped me connect to them throughout this story. 5/5

Souvenirs by Tim Federle - This was another average story about two boys who were both working at an amusement park over the summer and started a relationship, however set a day to break up. This was an interesting idea, following a couple on the day they have set as the day they break up, but I think it could have been executed better. I found it a little bit boring. 3/5

Inertia by Veronica Roth - Another story I enjoyed much more than I was expecting to. Veronica Roth's story was very different but cleverly done. This story follows a girl whose childhood friend is in critical condition in hospital and has chosen her to share memories with him before he dies. I really enjoyed the way the romance genre was twisted to become more of a sci-fi story with romance elements. It was such an interesting concept and the romance was incorporated really well. I was also impressed with how well some more serious topics were covered in such a short story. 4/5

Love Is The Last Resort by Jon Skovron - Again, I found this story to be pretty average. This follows a cast of characters at a resort and featured multiple relationships rather than just the one. It was fun to have a larger cast of characters but in such a short time it was difficult to connect with all of them. I really enjoyed the resort setting and having multiple romances, however I feel like it needed to be a bit longer to reach it's full potential. 3/5

Good Luck And Farewell by Brandy Colbert - Since reading this book, this is the one story that I keep forgetting what it was about. I enjoyed it enough while reading but it appears to be quite forgettable. It's about a girl whose cousin, who has almost raised her since her parents died, is moving away and she has to deal with that change in her life. It was a nice, cute story but, once again, pretty average. It was a good take on family relationships and emphasised the different types of family but the romance was nothing special in this story and was a definite case of insta-love. 3/5

Brand New Attraction by Cassandra Clare - I wasn't sure what to expect from Cassandra Clare but I ended up pleasantly surprised by her story, I really enjoyed it. It was very unique as it is set in a carnival and follows the daughter of the carnival owner. There is a lot going on in this story but rather than being confusing or overwhelming, I found that it reflected the busy carnival setting and added to the feel of the story. It was very different to all of the other stories in the collection as there was a lot more to it than just the romance. I loved the interesting setting and unique plot. I was very impressed with how much Cassandra Clare managed to do in such a short story. 4/5

A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong by Jennifer E Smith - Having loved many of Jennifer E Smith's books before, I expected to enjoy this story just as much as I did. This is the story of Annie who is working at a camp over the summer and has a crush on the shy boy from school. There is so much more to this story than it first seems and I really loved the way autism and Aspergers were discussed. Some of the things mentioned were a bit stereotypical and I think including such stereotypical behaviours could have been avoided but overall I think it was written well. I really enjoyed the story, particularly the relationship with the little boy, and also found the romance adorable. 4/5

The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things by Lev Grossman - This was a good end to the anthology. Another very interesting premise, this story follows our main characters as they live the same day over and over again. It was an interesting take on the topic and I was initially quite doubtful as I often find that kind of story to be boring and repetitive. However, I ended up enjoying it much more than I expected to. It is a bit more complex than some of the other stories, and ambitious to attempt in such a short space of time, but I still thought it was a fun, cute story. Unfortunately, while the story was interesting, I didn't connect with the romance at all. 3.5/5

There was an interesting mix of good and not so good throughout this anthology and many of the stories surprised me as it was often the ones I least expected that I enjoyed the most. I didn't enjoy this as much as I enjoyed My True Love Gave To Me, but there are definitely some authors whose work I am more interested to check out having read their short story.