Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Books on my autumn TBR pile!

Good heavens, I can't believe autumn is upon us once again! I never used to like it but I'm learning to love the colder weather (slowly, but surely) and I'm kind of falling in love with sweaters and fireplaces and reading on rainy days.

Image result for dancing pumpkin gif

I don't know about you but I've found my reading is very specific during the warmer seasons and the colder ones. During summer and spring I pretty much read contemporary all the time because BEACH! ROMANCE! CUTESY STUFF! It just screams summer, you know? (or is that just me being odd?) During autumn and winter I love reading fantasy, dystopia and paranormal. With the sky dark, the rain pouring and the wind howling it just seems right to read genres where magic and mayhem unfolds. However, as I'm trying to read more Netgalley/Edelweiss books – of which many are contemporary – there will be some of that thrown in too!

My Autumn TBR Pile:

1.The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey
I've been wanting to read this book forever. Why haven't I read it yet?! I mean, it's right there on my kindle. Also, PRETTY COVER IS PRETTY.

2. Never Never by Brianna Shrum
PETER PAN! I love Peter Pan, methinks I'm going to like this one.

3. The Hollow Boy/The Creeping Shadow by Jonathan Stroud
I CAN'T BELIEVE I HAVEN'T READ THE LATEST LOCKWOOD AND CO BOOKS. I'm getting them to review shortly and I'm so excited because they're deliciously creepy with their ghosts and hauntings but they also have amazing characters, the writing is fabulous and the plots are generally excellent. The perfect halloween read!

4. Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige 
Escapes from mental institutions, Snow White, romance...IT SOUNDS SO GOOD. However, I've read quite a few negative reviews but hopefully I'll love it!

5. Frostblood by Elly Blake
This fantasy sounds epic, I must say. It's been getting pretty good reviews as well which is always good!

6. I Am the Traitor by Allen Zadoff

7. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Everyone has read this but me, I swear. I WILL get to this series this autumn – I hope I love it as much as everyone else seems to!

8. More of Me by Katheryn Evans
This book sounds so intriguing. It sounds quite eerie and poignant and AH, why haven't I read it yet?!

9. They Call Me Alexandra Gastone by T.A. Maclagan

10 . Charlie,Presumed Dead by Anne Heltzel
As you probably know by now, I never read thrillers/murder mysteries but this sounds so good

Have you read any of these? Which book do you recommend I read first? What books are on YOUR autumn TBR pile?! LET'S TALK.
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Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Alistair Grim's Odditorium by Gregory Funaro had me quite disappointed

Alistair Grim's Odditorium (Odditorium, #1)Title: Alistair Grim's Odditorium
Series: Odditorium #1
Author: Gregory Funaro
Genre: Middle-Grade, Fantasy
Publication: January 6th 2015
Pages: 412 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you to Alma Books for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 2.5/5 Cupcakes!
Twelve-year-old Grubb lives a hand-to-mouth existence in Victorian England, working as a chimney sweep under a cruel master. After an incident at an inn, he hides in the trunk of one of its guests, the enigmatic Alistair Grim, and is whisked away to his Odditorium, a wonderful flying house full of incredible mechanical features powered by an enigmatic substance called animus. Now apprenticed to Grim, Grubb begins to settle into his new life and find a new family in the eccentric crew of the Odditorium, when suddenly his new world comes under attack by the evil Prince Nightshade and he is propelled into a perilous quest. As he gets caught up in the struggle, Grubb will learn valuable lessons and discover remarkable secrets about himself and his new host.

When the opportunity arose to review this book I seized it excitedly. It sounded incredible, with wonderful characters, a flying house and magical adventures that I couldn't wait to embark on. However, I found myself sorely disappointed in this novel. Perhaps it was a case of it being me and not the book but I just didn't end up loving this book as much as I had hoped I would.

I think the biggest problem that kept me from loving this book as much as I could have, is the detachment I felt regarding the characters. Character connection is vital in order for me to love a book and whilst I liked the characters I never felt like I got to know them. Perhaps it was due to the premature arrival of calamity and disorder that the characters encountered several pages in which left me floundering in a haze of black faeries and skeleton armies, or maybe it was because I wasn't given enough of an opportunity to delve inside the cast's heads. I never felt like I got to know them, which makes me quite sad. There was minimal background information for the characters, minimal scenes that involved the characters expressing their emotions, the book seemed to lack the ability to welcome me into the characters' minds and my enjoyment levels plummeted because of that. The author created characters with an abundance of potential: Grubb, a kind and courageous chimney sweep, a mysterious sorcerer called Mr Grim, a mischievous banshee, gentle-hearted Nigel, a wonderful witch, a sassy fairy whose love of chocolate rivaled mine and a spunky talking pocket watch. These characters are incredibly interesting, of that I'm sure, I just hope that in the sequel I'll be able to see more of that.

The main thing that initially drew me to this book was the concept – a lonely, underfed chimney sweep who unlocks a mystical world filled with magic, adventure and a family of sorts. However, I felt like this book was being pulled in far too many directions for me to fully appreciate it. There were many steampunk elements, Greek mythology, Chinese mythology, dragons and samurai, banshees and fairies and sirens, ogres and trolls, the walking dead and skeleton armies...it was just too much. Too many things were either occurring at once or in rapid fire succession after the other which left me with a sore head and a feeling of disorientation as I tried to take in everything. Not only did this leave me feeling confused but it severely affected the pacing and my ability to become immersed in the story. Action scenes were haphazardly thrown around and I never felt like I was given time to recover from the conglomeration of activity before I was hurled into the next scene. I also felt as if, due to all the movement in the chapters, this detracted from the characters and their emotions. I felt as if I was never allowed time for me to settle into the story and form a bond with the characters and find my bearings. This also had an affect on the otherwise charming writing style. The book initially began with a style that echoed that of classics I've read, it oozed character and I found myself loving the way the book was written, however, as the action unfolded, it morphed into a disjointed style with lots of telling and not showing.

This turned into quite a negative review, didn't it? It wasn't all bad - several of the characters were spunky and charming and I enjoyed the relationships that developed between Grubb and the other quirky characters in the Odditorium and there were moments that had me turning the pages slightly faster. Like I said, I also loved the writing style for the first few chapters of the book.

All in all, when I picked up Alistair Grim's Odditorium I was certain that I was going to fall in love. However, all the genres it tried to include seemed to be haphazardly sewn together, the pacing felt far too fast which left me feeling as if I was constantly being hurried along, wrapped in a flurry of chaos; the lack of character expression and character development also meant that there were several things that prevented me from adoring this book as much as I thought I would. However, despite me not being able to appreciate it fully, this book has many good ratings, maybe I'm just being a black sheep again!

I give it: 2.5/5 CUPCAKES!
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Sunday, 18 September 2016

What I've Been Reading #9

I'm currently writing this in the car, on Saturday and I am exhausted. I spent the whole day cleaning the new place with my parents – scrubbing doors and fridges totally counts as an arm workout, right? I'm getting Nandos though which is awesome because I love Nandos. It's heaven, really.
Alistair Grim's Odditorium (Odditorium, #1)

I haven't managed to read much this week BUT I did finish a book this week and I'm almost halfway through my second book so GO ME! I also reached my Goodreads goal of 50 books this past week *dances* so I hope I can read quite a bit more books by the end of the year!

Alistair Grim's Odd Aquaticum (Odditorium, #2)The Quantum Universe: Everything That Can Happen Does Happen

I'm currently reading Alistair Grim's Aquaticum and it's so much better than the first book! The preceding novel had too much going on therefore the plot felt all over the place, the characters were quite expressionless and severely lacking in development but the sequel is much better and I even want to pick it up once I've put it down which is always a good sign.

I also started a non-fiction book last night (WHO EVEN AM I) which happens to be The Quantum Universe by Brian Cox. I've discovered that I LOVE quantum physics and I kind of want to get my hands on any book to do with that. I've never read a Brian Cox book before despite him being such a renowned astrophysicist and author and I can see why he's books are popular! He writes beautifully but he simultaneously represents his idea in a simple manner, which is rare to find. I'm only 16 pages in but hopefully I'll get more reading in tonight! We're going back to the house tomorrow to paint the kitchen and perhaps the floors so I don't think I'll be getting done much done reading wise!

What books have you read this week? Have you read a Brian Cox book? Have you read a book that was disappointing but which had an awesome sequel?
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Friday, 16 September 2016

Two Summers by Aimee Friedman was splendidly summery, sweet and scenic! (ADMIRE MY ALLITERATION)

Two SummersTitle: Two Summers
Series: N/A
Author: Aimee Friedman
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 256 Pages, Paperback
Publication: July 7th 2016, Scholastic
Source: Thank you to Scholastic for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 4.5/5 CUPCAKES!
ONE SUMMER in the French countryside, among sun-kissed fields of lavender . . . 
ANOTHER SUMMER in upstate New York, along familiar roads that lead to surprises . . . 
When Summer Everett makes a split-second decision, her summer divides into two parallel worlds. In one, she travels to France, where she’s dreamed of going: a land of chocolate croissants, handsome boys, and art museums. In the other, she remains home, in her ordinary suburb, where she expects her ordinary life to continue — but nothing is as it seems.
In both summers, she will fall in love and discover new sides of herself. What may break her, though, is a terrible family secret, one she can't hide from anywhere. In the end, it may just be the truth she needs the most.
From New York Times bestselling author Aimee Friedman comes an irresistible, inventive novel that takes readers around the world and back again, and asks us what matters more: the journey or the destination. 

It is no secret that I love contemporaries. Adorable romances that make my shippity heart race, flawed and sometimes traumatised characters that make me want to hug them endlessly and deep musings that blow my mind. WHAT'S NOT TO LOVE?! Two Summers was the epitome of a YA contemporary novel – an adorable and realistic main character, two glorious romances, the chaotic but beautiful process of growing up and letting go and delicious writing that made me eat up the book rapidly.

Let's start with the characters! I LOVED the characters! Summer was a character that you don't often see in YA – she wasn't confident and independent, bold and outgoing. I've seen reviews that have suggested that Summer is immature for her age, but I didn't view her like that at all. People often forget how young fifteen is and that not all teenagers are going to be confident hopping on an aeroplane and flying to a country by themselves, that not all teenagers can accept change easily and not all teenagers like hanging out with groups of people – some stick to that one friend they've known for years. I could highly relate to Summer and I was basically her - not very confident, not a risk-taker and someone who isn't a fan of change. However, due to reading this book, I've been inspired to step outside my comfort zone and view life more as an adventure than something that needs to be planned and feared due to the randomness of it all. I loved Summer as a person as she was sweet, kind and gentle. I also liked her mother, her aunt, eventually Eloise, and Hugh. I wasn't a massive fan of Ruby and I think she was quite harsh in her quest to distance herself from Summer, but once again it was an accurate portrayal of some teenage girls.

I also loved the relationships in this book due to their complexities. The love and frustration between mother and daughter, the act of a father trying to stitch back together a relationship with his daughter that fragmented due to mistrust. The nostalgia, regret and freedom that accompanies a new distance created between old friends. The breathtaking, heart-stopping venture into first love and the new found connection and feeling of belonging between new friends.

THE ROMANCES WERE SO CUTE TOO. There were two romances in this book: a boy from New York who has, unbeknownst to him, held Summer's heart for a few years and a boy who sweeps Summer away into a fairy tale dream of Parisian sunsets, fields of poppies and motorcycle rides. I loved Hugh - him and Summer were so shy and adorably awkward around one another I felt as if my heart was going to explode. I liked Jacques...but I shipped Summer and Hugh more.

I loved the plot too! Something that has always fascinated me is the idea of parallel worlds and how a singular decision can alter the course of your life drastically. I loved that this book tested my ability to imagine how diverse our lives can be and how infinite the possibilities – it was incredibly thought-provoking. 

I also loved how the author managed to transport me to the cobbled streets of Paris and the banks of the Hudson river. One thing that made me fall completely in love with this book was the setting and the author's writing. I absolutely loved the way the author described Paris and New York and I could clearly conjure vivid images of the two places. I fell in love with the scenery and all that is due to the author's skill in producing sensory imagery. My mouth was often watering at the detailed descriptions of French cuisine, my heart was always light as I languished in the park next to the Hudson, I felt completely contained within the story...Two Summers will remind you how extraordinary reading is.

Two Summers is a magical summer read with a unique main character, complex relationships and two deliciously sweet romances. Choices, heartbreaks, the collapsing and formation of friendship as well as family secrets combined with vivid descriptions and the thought-provoking question of “What if?” results in a splendid summer read that will cast a spell over you and stay with you long after the final page has been turned.

I give it: 4.5/5 CUPCAKES!
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Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - In which I shriek at you to read my (more than ten) favourite contemporary books!

I will never not recommend this trilogy. It's got a summer romance, best friends turned lovers, a love triangle done right and it's just so, so brilliant. I didn't leave my house for 3 days when I read this trilogy. AND I GUARANTEE YOU WON'T EITHER, IT'S BRILLIANT, REALLY.

I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH. Lola is such a unique character, Cricket is the love of my life and the romance made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. A reread is in order, methinks.

Funny story, I never liked Sarah Dessen's books...until I read this book. I read it a few 

years back so I can't remember much but I know I fell completely in love with it.


SQUEEE! I read this book a few months ago and I loved it. The main character was adorably sweet and quirky and I love love love Ephraim. Also, it features the friends to lovers trope. And dinosaurs (not real ones, because contemporary, ya know) but it's so adorable and you need to read it now.

I didn't love Pushing the Limits so I was hesitant to read Dare You To but HOLY. COW. I gulped this book up in several settings, I was crying and laughing and an emotional wreck and I just loved it so, so much!

After reading Dare You To I thought I couldn't possibly love a book in the Pushing the Limits series as much as that one BUT I WAS WRONG. When I read Take Me On and I had NO WORDS, I was a flailing mango with the inability to English because MY HEART. The romance and the characters and the plot and the entire situation and *cries forever whilst clutching the book*

I remember how happy I felt after reading this book, as if anything was possible. I'm not sure why it had that effect on me but AH I LOVED IT SO MUCH. Motorcycle gangs and loyalty and heart-stopping moments, romance and danger – IT WAS PERFECT

I read this a few months ago and I LOVED it! I read it in two sittings and I was so incredibly invested in the story. I loved the main character, I loved the
romance and I loved Rosa and the plot and everything, everything, basically. (See what I did there? I'm subtly hilarious.)

I'll never forget the first time I picked up a Geek Girl book! It was for Bout of Books 2014 and I got the first two out from the library and I LOVED them. I laughed and laughed and laughed and I laughed so hard I woke my parents up at after midnight with my raucous honking. Good times.

THIS BOOK. I almost DNFed it because Evie's anxiety struggle was described in such vivid detail it was making me anxious. BUT I PERSEVERED and oh my gosh, it was brilliant. It had me laughing and crying, it was a book that actually represented mental illness honestly (excuse me while I applaud for eternity), there were feminism discussions and an epic girl friendship! YAS!

This book found me at a time when I really needed it. I was struggling with friendships and I was beginning to wonder if I would ever find people like my friends in South Africa that would just get me. This book made me cry within in the first few pages because I could just relate to every single character SO MUCH. One of my all-time favourites!

THESE BOOKS. The tears, they were real. I remember staying up until 1 or 2 in the morning finishing If I Stay and I felt as if someone had punched me in the stomach. It was so emotional and I loved it. I think I loved Where She Went even more though – SO MANY FEELINGS.

When I read The Sky is Everywhere when I was 13 I was convinced I had found my new favourite book. When I read I'll Give You the Sun at 16 I knew I had found what could possibly be my favourite book of all time. Jandy Nelson's writing is indescribable, she uses metaphors that are brilliantly abstract and the way she strings words together is absolutely astounding. I LOVE her books. 

I LOVE this book. I know there are many who think it's cliché and pretentious but I absolutely love it. I loved the characters, the romance and the writing and it's always a book that will mean a lot to me.

Those are my top 15 contemporaries! Have you read any of these? If you have: FANGIRL WITH ME PLEASE KTHX. Are there any on here that you haven't read? (You should go read them. Now. They're fantastic – trust me). What are your favourite contemporaries? And have you got any YA contemporary  recommendations?! I WILL LOVE YOU FOREVER IF YOU DO.
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Monday, 12 September 2016

What I've Been Reading #8 - The week I read NOTHING. *cries*

I read no books last week, WHAT IS THIS SACRILEGE?! I've had a lot of school, studying and packing as we're moving in less than two weeks (eek!!) so I haven't had much time to read. The book I'm currently reading also isn't really gripping me and I haven't felt truly immersed yet and I'm nearly halfway so...that could be part of the problem?

Hopefully I'll get to read more this week!

I'm currently reading Alistair Grim's Odditorium and although I love the premise I can't seem to connect to the characters and, if you've been reading my blog for awhile, you'll know I need to be able to connect to the characters. Maybe with so much going on in my life right now I'm not in the right frame of mind to read it? I'm hoping I end up loving it though because it's got such a lovely premise!

 If I don't read the second Alistair Grim book next I think I'll pick up Furthermore! It's oh so pretty and it's by Tahereh Mafi and it's a middle-grade which is a genre I adore! 

What did you read last week? Have you read Furthermore, if not, are you planning to? What are you currently reading? LET'S TALK!
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Saturday, 10 September 2016

Stacking the Shelves #97 - NEW SHINY PRETTIES

Hello everyone! I hope you've all had a great week!

I've spent this week packing as we're moving in TWO WEEKS - AHHH!!! I'm so, so excited for the new adventure that lies ahead. I'm so excited to be moving and I have a feeling it's going to inspire many blog posts and story ideas - which is always a good thing!

I've also been doing a lot of school but I've really enjoyed the content I've been learning this week. In physics I've grown to realise that I adore quantum mechanics. I learned about the photoelectric effect, Einstein's equations, excitation/ionisation and photon absorption. 
I found it incredibly fascinating and I'm now eager to go on a hunt for some books that will delve deeper into those topics. I've also been enjoying maths this week (???) as I'm learning about quadratics and they're far easier than the previous chapter I struggled through so yay! I'm also loving English at the moment, I had to write an article assessing the pros and cons of single sex schools and this weekend I have to write my article in argument-counterargument form highlighting the opponent's and proponent's cases regarding cosmetic surgery. I've really been  enjoying researching all the topics and writing them too. We've also found a potential English tutor so I'm really looking forward to someone reading my work and giving me feedback on how I can improve! :)

I got some exciting book mail this week too! I received three books that I'm super excited to read! I'm currently reading Alistair Grim's Odditarium and I'm quite enjoying it! I'd never heard about it before until I was contacted about reviewing it - you should definitely check it out if you're interesting in middle-grade fantasy! I also received a copy of The Railway Children by E. Nesbit which I'm super happy about. 


I was also naughty and book two books...oops. My library was having a sale and I've been wanting to read both books for quite a while so I definitely don't regret buying them, but I think it's time I go on an official book-buying ban until next year!

DodgerFever (The Chemical Garden, #2)

So these are the books I received this week! What books did you get? Do you also need to go on a book buying ban? I definitely do.
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