Wednesday, 8 February 2017

More of Me by Kathryn Evans is undeniably unique and tremendously thought-provoking

More of MeTitle: More of Me
Author: Kathryn Evans
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Sci-Fi
Publication: February 1st 2016, Usborne Publishing
Pages: 332 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you to Usborne Publishing for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 4.5/5 Cupcakes!
Teva's life seems normal: school, friends, boyfriend. But at home she hides an impossible secret. Eleven other Tevas.Because once a year, Teva separates into two, leaving a younger version of herself stuck at the same age, in the same house... watching the new Teva live the life that she'd been living. But as her seventeenth birthday rolls around, Teva is determined not to let it happen again. She's going to fight for her future. Even if that means fighting herself.

Well, I haven't cried so hard whilst reading a book in forever. Like, I was sobbing. Two hours later, I was still tearing up. And my parents were laughing at my dysfunctional state. So rude. But seriously though, this book was incredible. Thought-provoking, heart-rendering and so brilliantly unique – I loved it.

This book drew me in from the first page (well, technically, from the synopsis because I've never read about that in YA before!) and I was gripped the entire way through. I even read it in the car, and as someone who gets extremely nauseous when reading in the car, that is extreme dedication. Not stupidity, dedication okay. I've been meaning to read this book forever and I'm kicking myself for not reading it sooner as Kathryn Evans adds the horrifying, the mind-blowing, the romantic and the heart-breaking to the never seen before which resulted in an explosive reading experience.

As I said, this book drew me in from the start. It starts with the splitting process and guys, it's the kind of writing that makes you feel as if that is happening to you, which could be quite uncomfortable at times because Teva is subjected to a lot of pain due to her condition and I felt it, guys, I felt it. The writing was excellent – it dragged me into the story with vengeance and never relinquished control until the final page and it bombarded me with a dizzying amount of feelings – I was laughing, I was crying, I was curious and I was horrified. More of Me will make you feel all the feels, trust me.

I loved the characters. At first I couldn't really connect to Teva but by the end of the novel I absolutely adored her (the 16 year old one, who is the narrator) and her determination to cure her condition and to have a future. My heart broke in two for her – imagine knowing that in a year, your current life would be handed to the older version of you, and you're left to remain in a crumbling house with the former versions of you, never allowed to see the outside world again? It's a devastating situation and Teva pours out her heart to the reader, detailing all that she's terrified of and I just wanted to help her because she – and all the Tevas who came before her – deserve a life, a future.

I loved Teva's best friend, Maddy too. I so rarely see solid female friendships in books where the characters can truly rely on one another and trust each other to stay when the monsters we dance with are taking the lead – so it was so incredibly refreshing seeing that. I also LOVED Tommo so much, he was so funny and sweet and understanding and I JUST LOVE HIM SO MUCH.

Every character was complex and their inner layers were revealed steadily throughout the novel which I appreciated as I love it when the entire cast of characters allow glimpses of their hopes and their fears, their pasts and their wishes for the future, to decorate the pages.

The plot was great as well and, as I said before, I didn't want to put this book down. I was flying through the pages at a rapid speed, questions burning in my mind, needing to know that Teva would find a cure and that she would be okay. There were moments that left me shocked and horrified and that ending broke me. STILL NOT OKAY, PEOPLES.

Another thing I really loved about this book was the underlying metaphor of how, every year, as we grow older, we're a different person to who we were on our last birthday and as we get older, our former selves are left behind., suspended in time. Eternal and unreachable. Sometimes the change is subtle, but other times life molds us into someone who is unrecognisable to even ourselves. I thought it was incredibly clever how the author also showed how we can be at war with our former selves – whether it be the choices we've made that disappoints the younger versions of ourselves, or because we've turned into people we never wanted to be...our ever changing nature was portrayed in the most weirdly wonderful of ways.

More of Me was spectacular, with a determined, courageous protagonist, an incredibly unique concept, a sweet love story and heartfelt writing, More of Me is a must read that will blow your mind and break your heart in the best way possible.

I give it: 4.5/5 cupcakes

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Wednesday, 1 February 2017

A Girl Called Owl by Amy Wilson - A lighthearted middle-grade from the perspective of Jack Frost's daughter

A Girl Called OwlTitle: A Girl Called Owl
Series: N/A
Author: Amy Wilson
Genre: Middle-Grade, Contemporary
Publication: January 26th 2017, Macmillan Children's Books
Source: Thank you to Pan Macmillan for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected my opinion.
Rating: 3/5 Cupcakes!
It's bad enough having a mum dippy enough to name you Owl, but when you've got a dad you've never met, a best friend who needs you more than ever, and a new boy at school giving you weird looks, there's not a lot of room for much else. 
So when Owl starts seeing strange frost patterns on her skin, she's tempted to just burrow down under the duvet and forget all about it. Could her strange new powers be linked to her mysterious father?And what will happen when she enters the magical world of winter for the first time?
A glittering story of frost and friendship, with writing full of magic and heart, A Girl Called Owl is a stunning debut about family, responsibility and the beauty of the natural world.

When I was offered a copy of this book to read, I was ecstatic! I absolutely adore books that feature characters with elemental powers and with this book also seeming to emanate Frozen vibes, I was convinced that I was going to fall head over heels in love with it but I'm sad to say I was left feeling somewhat disappointed by A Girl Called Owl.

The one thing I loved about this book was the original concept. We have thirteen-year-old Owl, with her large eyes and the tufty blonde hair that lives in a house with her artistic mom, she's best friends with a girl called Mallory and during lessons she doodles owls of all shapes and sizes on pieces of paper. She's happy, except, there's one thing that has left a hole in her heart - she hasn't ever met her father and when she asks her mom who he is, the subject is either avoided or her mom replies with stories of a not-so-mythological land that is not-so-far-away that don't exactly answer Owl's questions. One day at school, Owl notices a strange formation of patterns resembling snowflakes appearing on her arms and frost begins to coat objects she comes in contact with. As her powers grow stronger and wilder, she confronts her mother who tells her her father is none other than Jack Frost. As Owl goes on a journey to find her father, one that will challenge her physically and emotionally she'll make friends, enemies, learn the true extent of her powers and discover a breathtaking world that Owl thought she could only ever have imagined. It was fascinating reading a book from the perspective of Jack Frost's daughter and I enjoyed the fresh, original take on the tale of the mysterious Man of Winter and I thought the author wonderfully intertwined mythological elements through the book. The novel managed to straddle the line between mundane life and the extraordinary beauty of the fae world and I felt as if I was being swept up in this magical world alongside Owl, moving from normality to the extraordinary. I loved reading about the transition between quiet Owl living her everyday life and feeling quite unexceptional to confident, self-assured Owl dancing between a flurry of snowflakes escaping from her fingertips as she realises the true power simmering beneath the surface. 

Another thing I loved about this book was the magical fairy world that I could imagine vividly due to the author's enchanting, melodic writing style. I loved the atmosphere and world building in this book as even though I didn't get to spend much time in the fae world, it didn't bother me as much as the real world was also described in a striking manner. When I wasn't surrounded by sprites, fairies and ethereal beings bathed in a golden light, I was in the real world with Owl who was painting the world with the shades of winter. I could picture the houses laden with frost, resembling fairytale houses with sugared powder sprinkled on the top. Crystal particles adorning the branches and bushes and starlight reflecting off of snowflakes dancing under the golden hue of a streetlight. I could hear the crunch of frost beneath my feet and feel the chill of winter stinging my skin. I could vividly conjure stunning images of not only the fairy realm but of the natural world - the way that winter was described made me fall in love with the severe beauty of iced lakes and sugar dusted sidewalks. As I was reading A Girl Called Owl, there was frost lining the houses outside and it was easy to imagine Owl and Jack Frost sprinting from the rooftops, dousing the world in the breathtaking beauty of winter as the dawn began to break - it made me feel as if I was a fingertip away from a world filled with creatures and magic that I've only ever dreamed about.

Despite loving those aspects of the book, there were two things I had a slight issue with: the characters were lacking in personality and I found myself bored quite often. I wanted to love the characters but I couldn't connect to them. Mother Earth and Jack were brimming with personality, especially Jack who was charismatic and outrageously mischievous. He was full of sass and had an audacious nature and I would've loved to see more of him in the book, however, Owl, Mallory and Alberic took center stage. I really wanted to like them but they were extremely dull. Owl didn't have any distinct character traits or endearing flaws, she felt quite two dimensional and I didn't find her voice particularly compelling. Not only that but my apathy towards her morphed into dislike after seeing how she lied to her mother and didn't treat her very well. She would sneak out to meet Jack Frost/do wintery things/go to the fairy realm and never tell her mom who had been wanting to see Jack Frost desperately after not seeing him for thirteen years and who fell in love with the fae when she visited the realm, but Owl didn't tell her at all even though she knew her mom would've loved to see him again, which was so selfish of her. ALSO, she would sneak out and disappear and her mom would (obviously) be extremely worried but she never really did anything to stop Owl and there were no boundaries set in place and I was like ?? Another thing, Owl never explained the situation to appease her mom and I mean she really could have told her mom as she knew all about the world but no. It just didn't make sense and I still don't particularly understand why didn't just tell her mom, then she wouldn't have had to sneak out all the time either. Another thing that infuriated me about Owl was that she never listened or thought things through, she was constantly putting herself and others in danger despite being warned about the consequences of her actions. CAN YOU NOT. I liked Mallory well enough but I found her to be quite a bland character and I didn't particularly feel anything towards her. Then there was Alberic as well whose character I wasn't fond of at all, he was quite harsh and lacking in empathy and I just didn't fall in love with any of the characters as much as I was hoping to - none of them felt real, none of them felt like they had become a friend once the final page had been turned.

As I stated previously, I was bored during this book, guys. Not once did I find myself completely gripped by the story and I found the story lagged in several parts and whenever I put the book down, I didn't particularly have a strong desire to pick it back up. I Even towards the end when I was expecting there to be a fight/major conflict (as that's what the book suggested was about to happen) there was an incredibly anticlimactic scene and I was just expecting more adventure, more intrigue, more danger, just more, but  I wasn't met with that at all. 

A Girl Called Owl had a lot of promise and I was expecting an enchanting, whimsical novel filled with unconventional characters, enthralling escapades and sinister fae however, I found myself reading about lackluster characters, an insipid plot and a muted version of the incandescent story I thought I was going to become acquainted with. I felt as if though this book was lacking in depth and that the characters didn't go through much development, they didn't transform into better people that I grew to love. Although I liked the author's writing style and I loved that the author wrote a book from Jack Frost's daughter's perspective, it wasn't enough to salvage the book for me. 

I give it: 3/5 cupcakes

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Thursday, 26 January 2017

How my bookish habits have changed since I started blogging

I've been blogging for nearly five years (WHAT?! HOW?!) and I've noticed that my reading habits have drastically changed over the past five years. Regardless of my blog, I'm pretty sure my reading habits would've changed as I grew from an awkward thirteen-year-old into an awkward (almost) eighteen-year-old. Life has gotten busier as I've gotten older, there are more responsibilities (especially more academic responsibilities) and I thought it would be interesting to see how my reading/bookish habits have changed since I first started blogging. SO, LET'S GET THIS SHOW ON THE ROAD. YAS.

I remember when I first started my book blog, I was this dinky barely thirteen-year-old WHO DIDN'T KNOW WHAT YA WAS. Like, literally, I remember going onto Amazon and seeing someone say "Such a brilliant YA book!" and I was like, "Wut dat?". Oh, the ignorance. It burns. I'm so glad I started blogging because I don't think I would've found YA until I was much older and that BREAKS MY HEART. Can you imagine?! What a despairing image.

This makes me sad but it's definitely something I've noticed. I think this is because a) The books I'm reading are a lot thicker (I was reading MG books and they were generally like 200 pages each and now most books I read are 400 or pages) so it feels like I'm reading less b) I'm older = more school = less reading time c) I have more (bookish related) hobbies - writing reviews, bookstagram, commenting on blogs, writing posts - that although I love doing, it does mean there's less time for reading!

Before I was a part of the book blogosphere I'd buy random books, I'd get random books out of the library and I'd just read whatever but since I started book blogging, MY EYES HAVE BEEN OPENED. I KNOW OF ALL OF THE BOOKS. I READ ALL OF THE REVIEWS. I'm a lot more discerning with what I read now which is mostly a good thing but I do admit, I kind of miss just going to the library and checking out random books but...

Although I loved pretty much every book I read when I was younger and I don't think I was as finicky about rating a book high, I've definitely noticed that I'm reading books with better writing, plots, and characters as opposed to what I read before. Even the occasional teen books I read before I started blogging weren't that great - they lacked depth and complexity and now that I think back, they really weren't that great. I've discovered many, many new favourites and there are so many books that I've read since 2012 that will stay with me forever. There aren't that many favourites from before I started blogging!

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Due to being aware of new releases and constantly being recommended books, I find myself buying a lot more books as opposed to when I was younger. I would randomly buy books when I went to charity stores and bookstores but now whenever I hear of a new release that sounds incredible or 231 bloggers are fangirling over a book...I buy it. I also think I buy more because I see all the pretty shelfies on bookstagram and it makes me want to grow my collection? LIKE, LOOK HOW PRETTY.

Before I started blogging I would randomly walk into charity stores/bookstores and buy whichever book's blurb sounded intriguing but now I only buy books I've heard great things about and books that have been newly released. I never buy a book without reading reviews first which is good as I can generally steer away from books that may contain bad dialogue/things that trigger my anxiety/insta-love etc but it does make me wonder if I'm missing potential favourites all because of a lower rating on Goodreads. 

My TBR pile hasn't been devoid of books since I was probably about eight. My parents have always bought me books and I've been used the library since I was 5 or 6 so I've always had a TBR pile, but since blogging it has definitely grown at quite an impressive rate. I get sent books every month to review, I buy more books than ever, I live in England where books are so much cheaper than South Africa so it's no wonder that it's grown so much. Also: I NEED to work on reducing it because it's, it's beginning to rival Everest. Slight exaggeration but you get the idea.

I've always taken pictures of books. Before blogging...I didn't have a mobile so I didn't take any pictures of books but then a few months after starting blogging I got a phone and I started randomly taking bookish pictures that I would send to my friends like, LOOK NEW BOOKS (they didn't really care. HEATHENS. APPRECIATE MY PHOTOGRAPHY TALENT). I then progressed to snapping photos of my book hauls and current reads and tweeting it to my blogging friends and putting them on my blog occasionally but since starting my bookstagram account I take pictures of books a lot (you don't say). I don't randomly get books off my shelves and take a quick picture anymore, I actually make an effort to make it look slightly more aesthetically pleasing. That's another good thing that's come out of book blogging - photography. I don't think I ever would've gotten into photography if it weren't for all the brilliant bookstagram photos I've seen. Yay!

I've definitely noticed I feel more guilty if I don't read a lot. I've never been a person who just reads in their free time. I have quite a few other hobbies - I've always loved reading/dancing/pilate's/piano/guitar/drawing/computer games so I'll do either one of those in my spare time which has always been fine but now that I have a book blog and I have to read in order to produce content, I feel so guilty if I don't read. Now that I'm in my second to last year of school I don't have time to read and when I do, sometimes I don't feel like reading as I've spent the whole day in front textbooks so I feel like doing something creative or something physical. However, if I don't read in my spare time I feel guilty. I look at my towering TBR pile, I think of all my review copies, my Goodreads challenge...I definitely want to stop feeling guilty for not reading because it's a fun hobby and I need to accept that it's okay to want to do other stuff as well.

STORY TIME: I used to have this system for what book to read next when I was younger. I would gather my (small) stack of books that I wanted to read and I would look at the number of pages each book had and I'd read them in the order of thinnest to thickest, or thickest to thinnest, or sometimes I'd read them in alphabetical order by title or by author - switch things up a bit. I might actually start doing that again as these days it takes me forever to choose which book to read next as I've heard incredible things about all the books and I NEVER know what to read next because every book always looks so good! I might restart that system again because it actually helped me choose what to read next. Eight-year-old Kyra, I admire you. 

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So, let's talk! How have your reading habits changed since you first started blogging? Can you relate to any of these? Let me know!
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Friday, 20 January 2017

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr was a suspenseful, chilling, moving novel

The One Memory of Flora BanksTitle: The One Memory of Flora Banks
Series: N/A
Author: Emily Barr
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publication: January 12th, 2017, Penguin
Pages: 303 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you to Penguin and LoveReading4Kids for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 4/5 cupcakes!
Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora's brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend's boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora's fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life. 
With little more than the words "be brave" inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must "be brave" if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home. 

This book was composed of unique and scintillating characters and a plot laden with suspense against a breathtaking backdrop of the Arctic's winter wonderland. This heart-warming story told through the eyes of an unreliable narrator makes The One Memory of Flora Banks a divine conglomeration of serendipitous journeys, mystery, and eccentricity that provides a thrilling literary experience.

My relationship with this book was tumultuous at first. I struggled to the story initially as the writing is very repetitive due to Flora's memory loss and the sentences were quite halted (perhaps to emphasize Flora's staccato thought process?). Hence I struggled to be immersed in the story for quite a while due to this reason but once I'd familiarised myself with the prose, man, I devoured it. It was the kind of book that completely engulfed me, time passed swiftly and by the time I looked up, I was over half way through the book and a blanket of darkness had replaced the final rays of sunlight – this book had me gripped and the last 200 pages had me feeling the whole spectrum of emotions. I grew to fall absolutely in love with this book so if you're struggling with the writing at first, persevere – it's worth it.

I absolutely adored the characters. Flora is a spectacularly memorable character, she almost always wears an oversized coat, carries a black stone in her pocket and writing covers her arms to remind her of all the things she needs to know. Her story will tear at your heartstrings – her willingness to chase adventure, pursue her dreams and forge a life for herself that many people think are impossible due to her condition makes her one of the bravest and determined female protagonists I've ever encountered. She was na├»ve and innocent which made me adore her even more because I feel as if 95% of YA heroines are incredibly savvy, confident and independent and it was fantastic becoming acquainted with a character that stands out among a sea of similar characters without even trying. I must mention, though, that even though I loved Flora, I couldn't connect to her 100% and I still don't feel as if I know enough about her. I felt as if there was a glittering ball of personality hidden inside her that she allowed me glimpses of, but she prevented it forever fully emerging (does that make sense? Probably not). I feel because she was so preoccupied writing notes, thinking of Drake and trying to remember I never felt like I learnt much about her. Her personality felt quite suppressed at times and I feel bad for saying that as after finishing the book I feel like she's a wonderful friend, but I did find her lacking slightly in personality for the majority of the novel. However, I can understand why the author made her be like that but I would've liked her to feel slightly more complex.

One character that I absolutely ADORED is Jacob, Flora's older brother who resides in Paris. He stole my heart and just thinking about his warm, charismatic personality and how brilliant he is, made me tear up. He was so caring, sassy, sweet and encouraging – an extraordinary older brother that would do anything to protect his sister whilst simultaneously allowing her the freedom to soar. He was the best. YAY for fantastic sister/brother relationships!

I liked Paige (Flora's best friend) by the end of the book but I was disappointed with her for basically abandoning Flora for something that she didn't have much control of. Even if my best friend did what Flora did, I would still be there for her. Always. I thought it was incredibly selfish of Paige to desert her but she redeemed herself by the end of the novel, which is always a good thing.

I loved how close Flora was to her parents and although I'm fortunate enough to not suffer from her condition, I do have severe anxiety which has made me very close to my parents and I do rely on them a lot, a lot more than your average seventeen years old which probably isn't a good thing, but hey – everyone's different, right? I loved that this book showed such a close child/parent relationship. I loved Flora's dad. He was so sweet and caring and did everything in his power to make Flora feel better! I'm not sure how I feel about Flora's mom, though. She has clearly been subjected to harsh trails and tribulations which led to her taking severe precautions when it came to Flora, precautions that I most definitely didn't agree with. Her mother could be quite stifling but I could understand why – fear and heartbreak had turned her into being perpetually terrified of something happening to Flora.

There was a host of other luminous characters found within these pages such as Toby and Agi! They were so supportive, caring and wonderful to Flora, yet they managed to perfectly care for her whilst simultaneously allowing her freedom on her journey. I absolutely adored them – they were wonderfully kind and they made my heart warm and fuzzy inside because they're good people and I loved how they handled Flora's condition.

I also feared that this book was going to be a romance novel where kissing a boy solves all the problems but that wasn't the case at all. In fact, there was very little actual romance in this novel. Flora did obsessively think of Drake for most of the book but I can understand why – wouldn't you be intent on finding the person who made you remember something after not being able to remember anything the past seven years? The repeated manta of Drake being the love of her life and needing to find him did feel slightly tedious in the beginning but once Flora reached the Arctic, I was more swept up in the description of the wondrous landscape and the trials she had to overcome whilst she was there to pay much attention to the continuous mention of Drake (who was such an idiot, I can't even). Although he was mentioned a lot, this isn't a love story. If anything, it was a breathtaking journey of self-discovery, pursuing your dreams and overcoming your fears. Flora managed so many incredible feats – it has inspired me to try doing the same.

There were two other things I loved about this novel: It's set in the Arctic (how freaking cool is that?! Very cool. Ha. Ha. See what I did there?) which I've never encountered in a book before and I also loved that Flora was an unreliable narrator as I haven't read many books that feature one! Although I found it quite confusing at times as Flora had her memory lapses and retreated into memories that she could remember from when she was younger, coating the story with a slightly hazy, surreal quality – I still liked it. It left me in suspense the entire way through the book and I felt gripped by an icy hand the entire way through – was that really what happened? Can she trust anyone around her? Chills scaled themselves up my spine on several occasions due to the deliciously subtle suspense.

Another thing that I must mention, is that The One Memory of Flora Banks is one of those books that will make you feel. I was gripped in anxiety and trepidation as I watched Flora navigating the world on her own and encountering things that would've given me ridiculously high levels of anxiety. It made me cry on more than one occasion (the hopelessness of Flora's situation, her incredible character growth and breathtaking journey to self-discovery also because of Jacob because I LOVE HIM), it made me smile and it made my heart warm and fuzzy inside – to see the kindness in people, Flora's strength, her strong relationship with her parents. This book tugged at my heartstrings and I love it for that.

The One Memory of Flora Banks is a spectacular story about an unforgettable character's extraordinary journey to the sublime Arctic in an attempt to find the boy who made her remember. But don't mistake this book for a magical, fluffy love story – it's a gritty look into the hardships of those living with amnesia, a dark insight into what grief and fear can turn us into, an atmosphere thick with suspense and mystery as a girl with a fur coat and letters to herself streaked down her arms stares her demons in the eyes and soars to the ethereal Norwegian landscape. I've never read a book quite like The One Memory of Flora Banks and I doubt I ever will. Utterly captivating.

I give it: 4/5 cupcakes

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Wednesday, 18 January 2017

What Light by Jay Asher wasn't the festive fun I was expecting

What LightTitle: What Light
Series: N/A
Author: Jay Asher
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publication: 20th October 2016, Macmillan's Children's Books
Pages: 256 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you to Pan Macmillan for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected my opinion.
Rating: 2/5 Cupcakes
Sierra's family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon - it's an idyllic place for a girl to grow up, except that every year they have to pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other. Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life begins to eclipse the other...

*Rant review*

This book. 

Hell's Kitchen reaction food fox nope

Where do I begin? Let me start off by saying that I love contemporaries, it's probably my favourite genre. I have read some incredible contemporaries that made me cry and laugh and think and feel...this was not one of those books. Maybe it was me, maybe it was the book but all I know is that reading this book was as enjoyable as watching paint dry.

What Light is about Sierra who helps her parents run a Christmas tree farm in Oregon. However, they spend every December in California in order to configure their Christmas tree lot. Every December Sierra misses spending the festive holiday with her two best friends back in Oregon, but there's a silver lining as she gets to spend time with her other best friend, Heather. This Christmas is different. She meets a boy called Caleb, with dimples and messy hair and a heart of gold, however, Sierra soon hears of the rumours circulating about Caleb's dark past and she asks herself whether or not it's worth risking her happy, secure heart for a boy she might not see once the 25th has come and gone.

I struggled with this book from the very first chapter. Not once during this book was I filled with a compulsion to keep turning the pages, I forced myself through it and once I had put it down I has no desire to pick it up. I probably should've listened to myself and DNFed it but I am an eternal optimist when it comes to books, so I persevered, hoping that it would get better.

Spoiler alert: It didn't.

The first thing I'll start off by saying is that this book is dull. Mind-numbingly dull. I kept waiting and waiting for something to happen but NOTHING HAPPENED. The book consisted of Sierra swooning over Caleb's dimples, waffling on about Christmas trees, making hot chocolate, eating out/delivering trees with Caleb and being a useless friend. It all merged together into a structured routine, there was never any spontaneity or originality and I found it so utterly boring reading about Sierra going through the same motions every. Single. Day. Perhaps it was due to this rigid routine that denied me of the chance to feel anything whilst reading What Light - I wasn't excited, I wasn't filled with sadness, happiness (there was one occasion where Heather said something funny and I laughed but that's as good as it got), fear, apprehension...nothing. I read this entire book with a blank face, it was so very meh

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Perhaps the reason I felt nothing whilst reading this book because there was no plot, no climax (I lie, there was a small climax but I barely noticed there was one because it was so dull), the characters were so incredibly boring and two dimensional that I just couldn't bring myself to care for them because all they were, were names on a paper. Most books I read, the characters feel like people I've known for years, people who I could call up at any given time, they feel real...these did not.

Moving on to the characters. Sierra was very bland, as were her parents and her friends. Caleb had potential but I couldn't quite get past the way his situation was handled. Sierra was a nice enough character. She was clever, quiet, sweet...but she seemed too perfect, hence I found her quite boring. She didn't have any flaws or any characteristics that made her feel real. Also, she completely ditched one of her best friend's shows she was acting in which meant a lot to the friend for a guy she's been hanging out with for two weeks. THAT'S NOT NICE, SIERRA. NOT NICE AT ALL. Also, I found her way too accepting and trusting of Caleb. He had gone after his sister with a knife (Not a spoiler as it's mentioned early on in the book). If I had heard rumours of such a severe nature about a guy I'd just met I'd be quite hesitant but after hearing the quite worrying rumour that turned out to be true, it made her like him even more...UM, WHAT?! WHO RESPONDS LIKE THAT?! Never once did she thoroughly question it or find it disturbing and I don't think that's a normal reaction. I feel like the author was trying to paint a saccharine sweet holiday romance and completely disregarded normal human reactions to several things. Maybe it was to infuse the book with an extra dose of Christmas spirit by having Sierra be so forgiving but I just...could not quite understand how she didn't find it all that worrying, especially as she barely knew him. 

Then there was Caleb who I never found myself growing attached to. I mean, I felt sorry for him and I feel like I could've liked him more if I had known more about him as a character before being told his rumour as that might have made me understand everything more. I could see he still harboured a lot of guilt and self-loathing which could have devastating consequences later on and it just felt like his negative emotions were never dealt with, it almost seemed as if the author was veering on him finding validation by Sierra choosing to date him and that didn't sit well with me. I don't think the author should've downplayed the lasting emotional impact his actions would've had on him and his sister. But maybe that's just me.

I also didn't really form any connection with Sierra's friends. They weren't actually a huge part of the book and I didn't see much of them or learn a lot about them, they felt like filler characters, just there in order to add a bit more bustle to the story. I also found it bad how it was potentially Heather and Sierra's last Christmas together yet they rarely saw each other and spent most of their time with their boyfriends. The former who was probably going to break up with hers in the new year and the latter with a guy she'd just met. One of my major pet peeves, in literature and reality, is when friends ditch their best friends for new, cooler friends or a guy who they barely know and don't mean all that much to them. YOU DON'T DO THAT.

Then there were Sierra's parents who never let the boys working on the farm talk to her otherwise her dad forced them to clean the outhouses which I thought was taking the overprotective dad thing a bit far. BUT then - even though they express their concerns over her dating Caleb - they don't really make an effort to deter her from seeing him and they're just like "We trust you" and it just didn't make sense. You trust her with Caleb but not any of the other guys who seemed perfectly nice?
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Then there was Caleb and Sierra's relationship. It didn't make me feel ~all the feels~, I didn't feel the chemistry and I found it as vapid as the rest of the novel.

HOWEVER, there were two positives! This book definitely felt Christmassy, the atmosphere of the book was perfectly festive and there were also a few witty one-liners that had me smiling. However, that didn't make up for the rest of the book, unfortunately.

What Light could've been the perfect Christmassy read, however, I personally found it insipid and slightly unrealistic. Maybe that was just me, though.

I give it: 2/5 cupcakes

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Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Top Ten Underrated Books I've Read That Not Enough People Squawk About

Hello everybody!

I hope you're having a marvellous day so far! 

I'm SO excited for this prompt as there are many, many books I've read that deserve all the love but BARELY ANYBODY HAS READ THEM AND IT BREAKS MY POOR LITTLE BOOKISH HEART. SO, now is the perfect opportunity to force persuade you to read these books. ARE YOU EXCITED? You should be.

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The Darkest Part of the ForestThe Last Summer of UsThe Rain (The Rain, #1)

WHY DO NOT ENOUGH PEOPLE TALK ABOUT THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST?? It has gorgeously morbid writing and fierce but broken characters and it's got that quaint fairytale vibe with a sadistic twist and EVERYONE NEEDS IT IN THEIR LIFE. 

The Last Summer of Us features a girl (who is recovering from the death of a loved one), not one but two boys (who gloriously contrast with another), a summer road trip through Wales, saying goodbye and starting anew - ALSO, THERE'S NO LOVE TRIANGLE. There is a subtle romance but NO LOVE TRIANGLE. Do you know how rare it is for a book to contain a girl and two guys and not have a love triangle? Super rare. Go read it now. Because rare.

The Rain is wonderful (it feels slightly sacrilegious to say that as there's a killer virus in the rain and pretty much everyone dies but we'll roll with it) - Ruby is your typical teenage girl trying to navigate an apocalypse. She's 100% snarky, pretty selfish and self-centred but she's a flawed character you can't help but love. Also, there's an adorable guy who feels like a real teenage boy and not the perfect specimens that fictional boys often are so YAY for realism. I think that's what made The Rain even more terrifying is how real everyone felt and how realistic everything is, it felt like the rain outside my window was poisoned which was scary but good too? NOT BECAUSE IT'S POISONED, but because the book made it feel like it could potentially be? Which is always a sign of good storytelling, right?

Radio SilenceUnrivaled (Beautiful Idols #1)White Cat (Curse Workers, #1)Talon (Talon, #1)

Radio Silence was one of the best books I read last year and NOT ENOUGH PEOPLE HAVE READ IT. It's a diverse book (asexuality, bisexuality, POC characters), the characters are so relatable and so adorable. They're shy and quirky and wear patterned leggings and create fan art and have Tumblr blogs and I HAVE A SUDDEN YEARNING TO REREAD IT BECAUSE SO FREAKING GOOD.

I was so excited to read Unrivaled when I received an arc of it last year! I'd read one other Alyson Noel book (Fated, I think) AND I LOVED IT. So when this came in the post with the pretty cover and the intriguing synopsis my expectations were high and you know what - IT BLEW MY (already high) EXPECTATIONS OUT OF THE WATER. Like guys, I loved this book. And the ending was a TOTAL cliffhanger and there was this air of suspense the entire way through and the characters were all backstabbers and liars because they'd do anything to get to the top and IT WAS SO INTRIGUING. READ IT.

I feel like nobody (except Cait who actually recommended these on her blog - THANKS, CAIT) has read these and when I mention it people are like "The Curseworkers series, the one you drone on and on about constantly but I never take in what you're saying? What are they about, again?". WELL, SIT DOWN AND LET ME SUM IT UP FOR YOU. Mafia. Magic. Cons. Mobsters. Mobsters who curse people with the touch of a hand. Snazzy gloves. Dysfunctional families. Cats. A tortured cinnamon roll of a main character who was born to be bad but who so badly wants to be good. IF THAT DOESN'T SELL YOU, THEN I DON'T KNOW WHAT WILL.

The Moonlight DreamersLove SongMore of Me

THESE BOOKS. WHY HAVEN'T MORE PEOPLE READ THEM?? The Moonlight Dreamers was incredible and I feel like rereading it all of a sudden because good golly that book is incredible! The characters are so unique and complex and so real that I feel like they're my friends. I genuinely felt like I had four new best friends once I had closed the book - ISN'T THAT THE BEST FEELING EVER?! Yes, I agree with me too.

Love Song was SO ADORABLE. At first, I was worried that I wouldn't like it as I've never really understood the obsession with bands like One Direction and 5SOS but LSKJLGJS it was so good. The romance was SO cute and the main character was SO relatable and it was SO FUN getting an inside look on how the other half lives. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

More of Me...that book frikkin' broke my heart. I was sitting in the lounge and I turned the last few pages of the book and I started bawling my eyes out and my parents were like "Are you okay?" and I was like:

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I'll probably never recover. BUT GUYS. READ IT. It's about this girl Teva and every year (as she gets older) she splits in two, leaving her younger self behind. So the house they live in is filled with ten other Tevas (I think this started when she was 5) and the latest Teva has to go into the real world and live her life whilst the others stay at home, forever the same age, forever living behind four walls. IT'S HEARTBREAKING AND CREEPY AND WONDERFULLY WEIRD AND PLEASE GO READ IT.

These are my top ten (wow, I actually put only ten books for a change - miracles do happen, I guess) books that I feel are severely underrated and EVERYONE MUST KNOW OF THEIR BRILLIANCE. Have you read these?? PLEASE TELL ME YOU HAVE SO WE CAN FANGIRL. If not, are there any of these that you want to read but haven't got to yet? What's one book that you've read that not enough people know and love? RECOMMEND ME ALL THE BOOKS.
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Monday, 16 January 2017

What I've Been Reading #12


I hope you all had a lovely weekend! I spent mine studying (bleh) and reading so it wasn't too bad (except for the studying because maths, ew). 

Also, random piece of information, but I'm really pleased with myself because today is my 12th day without chocolate! WHO EVEN AM I?! I wanted to reduce my sugar intake as I eat a lot of chocolate so I'm trying to go 2-3 weeks without it because I think it's more of a habit than anything else BUT MY RESISTANCE IS WAVERING OMG HELP. 

I'm also super happy because yesterday I had the best workout. I did abs, legs, and arms and I really enjoyed it. LIKE I ACTUALLY ENJOYED WORKING OUT?? I didn't know such a thing was possible but apparently it is! You guys probably didn't need to know this but I'm super proud of myself so I thought I'd like flail about it on my blog because why not?

So my resolution to be healthier this year is going pretty well! Now I just need to focus on getting to sleep earlier (I have miserably failed at that) and meditating more. I've really been struggling with stress and anxiety the past few weeks and I've definitely found, that in the past, meditation works wonders! 

I managed to read 2 books this past week which I'm quite proud of as I've been drowning in school work! I'm just doing maths at the moment as there are three textbooks I have to complete and IT'S SO MUCH WORK. But I'll survive. *sips chamomile tea and tries not to panic about exams and school and life in general*

Unmarked (The Legion, #2)The One Memory of Flora Banks

Unmarked by Kami Garcia ⭐⭐⭐⭐ | The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr 

I really enjoyed both of these! I LOVED Unbreakable (Unmarked's predecessor) so when my reservation for Unmarked came in I nearly died of excitement. I really enjoyed it but not nearly as much as I loved the first book. There were a few plot twists that left me with my jaw on the floor so YAY FOR PLOT TWISTS. 

I also read The One Memory of Flora Banks which I was highly anticipating and although it started out slow and I wasn't in love the first 100 pages or so, after that I devoured it. It was suspenseful and heart-wrenching and I highly recommend it!

As I've just finished TOMOFB I'm not reading anything yet but...

A Girl Called Owl

I'll be reading this next! I'm trying to read my arcs in a more timely fashion (also failing that so far this year BUT I'm trying, peoples, I'm trying) and as this one is coming out in ten days, I'll be reading this next! It's sounds adorable and LOOK AT THAT COVER. I am muchly excited. 

I might go write my review for The One Memory of Flora Banks now but...I kind of feel like playing Sims. I haven't played it in months and it's time, guys, it's go on a four-day binge of nothing but Sims because that's the only way to play, right?

How's your week been? What are you planning on reading this week?
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