Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Review - The Sword of Kuromori - Jason Rohan

The Sword of KuromoriTitle: The Sword of Kuromori
Series: Not yet specified.
Author: Jason Rohan
Genre: Middle-Grade, Fantasy
Publication: May 8th 2014, Egmont UK
Pages: 336 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you to Penguin Books SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 2/5 Cupcakes!
Kenny Blackwood arrives in Tokyo to spend the summer with his father and is stunned to discover a destiny he had never dreamed of when he finds himself in the middle of a hidden war that is about to explode. Racing against an impossible deadline, Kenny must find the fabled Sword of Heaven and use it to prevent the disaster. But a host of terrifying monsters is out to destroy him, and success will come at a price. With clever, fearless, sarcastic Kiyomi at his side, Kenny must negotiate the worlds of modern and mythic Japan to find the lost sword, before it's too late.
When I received The Sword of Kuromori to review, I was excited. It sounded like a Percy Jackson novel but from a Japanese perspective. I was in the mood for fantasy and action and this novel sounded like the perfect choice. Although it started out well, it soon deteriorated and I was left feeling bored and detached from the story. It's a pity as it started out promising.

The Sword of Kuromori is about fifteen year old Kenneth "Kenny" Blackwood who is being sent from his grandfather to spend the summer in Japan with his estranged father. However, when Kenny arrives in Japan, strange things seem to be fired at him in all directions. He's seeing vampires and monsters and all sorts of nightmarish creatures that shouldn't exist. Kenny learns that he is part of an ancient prophecy, one that needs to be fulfilled or 50 million innocent people could die. However, as the prophecy states, even if he saves the people, someone he loves will die.

The Sword of Kuromori sounds really good. It has a lot of things that I like in a book, prophecies and missions with impossible deadlines, travelling, monster-butt kicking...it was the perfect opportunity for the author to deliver a fantastic novel, however, I found myself severely disappointed.

I'll start off with the characters. I didn't particularly love any of the characters, the only one really being Kiyomi and Poyo. Kenny was quite a boring character and I just never found myself quite warming up towards him. He was immature and acted childish and although the author tried to make him more likeable by giving him a sensitive-side, I wasn't particularly convinced.

Like I said, I liked Kiyomi. She was very strong-willed and determined, opinionated and unafraid to voice her thoughts. I did, however, find that she would act too temperamental and flounce off too often and that also came across as childish.

The character I really loved was Poyo, the overweight Japanese raccoon dog, he was adorable and had a cute personality!

The main ones are Kenny and Kiyomi, who are supposed to be fifteen years old but act like they're 10. Everything they did seemed juvenile and immature and that is not how fifteen year olds act. Kenny once randomly kissed Kiyomi (who slapped him afterwards) and then later when Kiyomi touched his hand and apologised, he said "Don't go all mushy on me" or something along those lines. He kissed her and then basically swatted her away later when she touched his hands - it didn't add up. Their personalities were very inconsistent and either were age-appropriate or much younger than that.

There were other main characters, but to be completely honest, I really didn't care for them and I've forgotten most of their names. At the end, one of the characters died and then was revived due to the other character sacrificing himself and it was supposed to be an emotional scene but it didn't break my heart. I just felt sorry for the two characters briefly but the book wasn't excellent enough to leave a lasting impression on me.

The enemies in this book were about as evil as a puppy. The "bad guy" surrendered and became their friend, the other "bad guy" was a harmless dragon who was being mind-controlled by this other guy whose name I can't remember, that dragon did NOT DESERVE TO DIE. He was innocent! The other "enemies" were these demon/monster things that died so quickly and who Kenny with NO TRAINING fought so easily that it was so completely ridiculous.

The plot, like I said, could've been good had the characters and the writing been great as well. I really have nothing bad to say about the plot, except that the ending was tied up so neatly and although there was a "tragic" scene, it didn't evoke strong emotions within me and it probably was intended to. The whole thing with the sword and Kenny and him being able to do all this stuff was so completely convenient that the story didn't seem authentic at all.

The main issue I have with this book is the writing. It was cliché, cheesy and it had a staccato way that it was written which made it feel as if the flow of the story was abruptly cut. Everything was shown and not told and it just didn't work for me. One of the cliché examples would be when Kenny faced one of the "enemies" and the enemy said "Now, hand it to me, and no one will get hurt." And Kenny replied "Over my dead body." Seriously. SERIOUSLY?! How many times have we heard that in a book/tv series/action movie before. It was just so ridiculous and made the book seem so cheesy.

One last thing I have a problem with is that there was swearing in this book and an attempted romance when it's actually a middle-grade novel. Authors, there is a time for romance and swearing, and there is a time not for romance and swearing. These kids were"fifteen" but they honestly acted like 10-12 year olds which was why the romance DIDN'T WORK. It was just weird and forced and not sweet at all. The swearing wasn't really bad words but because this is a middle-grade novel with characters who seem much younger, it shouldn't really have been used. I think the author wanted to throw in romance and some bad words because he thinks it will appeal to older kids as well as younger ones, but it didn't work. If Kenny and Kiyomi were just friends it would've made the book a whole lot better. Her swearing didn't make her seem all "hardcore and rough" but it just sounded like a little kid flinging around cuss words when they didn't really know what they meant. The author should've stuck to this being solely middle-grade without the YA elements introduced.

This book reminded me a lot of the Young Samurai series by Chris Bradford (I've only read the first one). The writing in The Way of the Warrior was fantastic although the plot lacked, whereas in The Sword of Kuromori the writing + characters lacked but the plot had potential to be good. I also get frustrated when I read these books in Japan because the constant use of Japanese words and having to check the glossary just gets to me.
The Sword of Kuromori had potential but the cliché, cheesy writing, the irritating characters and the harmless villains made the book tedious to read. I think children under the age of 13 will enjoy this, however, this book was a disappointment for me. 

I give it: 2/5 Cupcakes!

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Friday, 25 July 2014

Stacking the Shelves #66

Stacking the Shelves

I wasn't really expecting any books this week but I got a postage slip to collect a parcel and HOLYMOTHEROFBOOKISHAWESOMENESS I am SO ecstatic to have got these and they all look amazing and some of them are books that have been on my wishlist! Thank you Pan Macmillan!

Review Books:

I'm so excited for Don't Even Think About it, Amy & Matthew (Say What You Will) and Stella! The others look great, too!

Have you read any of these and what did you think? :)

Leave your link to your STS post below!

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Friday, 18 July 2014

Stacking the Shelves #65

Stacking the Shelves

Hi guys!

I bought some good books this week and I got two books from Netgalley that I'm REALLY excited to read! The books I bought were quite cheap and me + a discounted bookstore = more books and a broke wallet. I got 3 for the price of one basically and I'm so excited to read them!

Books I Bought:

I have been wanting to read The Finisher since it first came out and when I saw it for half price I bought it without a second thought! I also saw Soulmates, which I haven't heard much of but I've seen it around and the cover is so pretteh. *strokes* I've also been seeing Poison Study on a lot of book posts so I decided to give it a try! It looks really good and I'm looking forward to reading it!

Netgalley Review Books:
Queen & Commander (Hive Queen Saga #1)Queen of Someday (Stolen Empire, #1)

These have both gotten quite good ratings and the plot sounds interesting! Also, can we just take a moment to appreciate Queen of Someday's cover.

Leave your links below! :)
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Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Review - City of Lost Souls - Cassandra Clare

City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments, #5)Title: City of Lost Souls
Series: The Mortal Instruments #5
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal Fantasy
Publication: May 8th 2012, Margaret K. McElderry
Pages: 544 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you to Pan Macmillan for sending me this in exchange for an honest review!
Jace is now a servant of evil, bound for all eternity to Sebastian. Only a small band of Shadowhunters believe he can be saved. To do this they must defy the Clave. And they must act without Clary. For Clary is playing a dangerous game utterly alone. The price of losing is not just her own life, but Jace's soul. Clary is willing to do anything for Jace, but can she still trust him? Or is he truly lost? What price is too high to pay, even for love?
After I read City of Fallen Angels (which I was extremely disappointed with) I wasn't really looking forward to City of Lost Souls. I felt as if the whole Jace/Sebastian thing was quite random and didn't need to happen and I was just unhappy with the turn the series took. However, one rainy afternoon I decided that I was in the mood for paranormal fantasy. I had been on a contemporary binge and I was looking for a book that would sweep me away into a world that held new adventures, but also a world that I was familiar with...and then I laid eyes upon City of Lost Souls. I was wary upon starting it, but once I did, I really enjoyed it! I'm glad that I read it and now I am waiting to get a copy of City of Heavenly Fire!

City of Lost Souls picks up a few hours after where City of Fallen Angels left off. Clary phones Simon in a frenzy saying that Jace and Sebastian have disappeared off the rooftop where they were standing hours before. As this man hunt continues, many of the Shadowhunters in the Clave start doubting if there is any of the real Jace left in there, but Clary, Isabelle, Magnus and Alec believe that he can be saved. Clary puts herself through life-threatening risks to try and find a possible way to save Jace, and to also discover what Sebastian's plan is...what she finds out is too terrifying to comprehend.

I really enjoyed this, I did have one issue, but it didn't completely overshadow my overall enjoyment of the book. I loved learning more about the characters and seeing their personalities develop, as well as seeing the romantic developments that were taking place. The writing was really good and the action scenes were extremely well written!

I really have grown to love the characters in this series. It took me awhile to warm up to some of them in the first two books, but since then I've really adored watching them grow and live their lives.

Clary generally annoys me, but in City of Lost Souls I liked her and she gained my respect. The steadfast unwavering love Clary and Jace have is touching and mesmerising. Although I get frustrated with Clary for putting her life at risk, I admire her for going to impossible lengths to try and save Jace. Clary is really strong-willed and stubborn and doesn't often think through things very clearly, and although that mostly annoyed me in the past books, I respected her for that in City of Lost Souls.

We haven't seen much of Jace in City of Fallen Angels and City of Lost Souls which is a pity as his dry humour and sarcasm never fails to make me laugh! Although we don't see that much of the normal him in this book, we do see glimpses of the real him and it made me fall in love with him all over again. The other Jace that is linked with Sebastian is a complete jerk and it was a pity that he was the main Jace throughout the book.

I really dislike Sebastian, he is disgusting and twisted and I can't get over the things he has done in the last two books. His infatuation with Clary is just weird and he seem hell bent (HA. Get it?) on burning down the world for for absolutely no reason.

My love for Simon, Izzy, Magnus, Alec, Jordan and Maia really grew even bigger throughout City of Lost Souls!

I have always adored Simon (since book one) and I just love watching his character grow, he's still the same Simon and I love how that even though he is a vampire now, his cute, geeky, personality is the same. I LOVE Simon. I also really adore Isabelle! She's so spunky and strong-willed and I just love her whole attitude. It was really nice seeing her sensitive side in this book, as I'm so used to seeing the battle-ready Iz.

Magnus is a character that really brings a lot of fun to the story, I love his sparkliness and his fun, energetic personality. It was quite odd seeing him so hurt and dejected towards the end and it made my heart clench with hurt to see him like this. I haven't warmed up the Alec much throughout the series, I just haven't really been able to connect to him all that much, but I like him better in this book. He has all these insecurities and doubts and being with Magnus has definitely made him a better, more confident person and now with that ending...I hope he doesn't go back to being the way he used to.

I also really like Jordan and Maia. When I first met Jordan/Kyle I didn't like him due to what he did to Maia, but after learning about why he happened and his backstory I really started liking him. I also really like Maia and I love how she reads and she seems quiet sometimes but she's always ready to jump into the action.

I love how the relationships have developed in this book and I was fangirling a lot of the book. I absolutely LOVE Sizzy, like I said, Simon and Isabelle are probably my two favourites and to see them get together is just TOO CUTE. 

Jace and Clary's relationship is beautiful and I love how they are always willing to do anything for the other and to protect one another. You can see the bond they share and how unbreakable it is, and it's beautiful to read about.

I like Maia and Jordan too, they're absolutely adorable together but I don't feel like I know them that well. I really would like to learn more of their backstories and learn more of them instead of just about their relationship.

Magnus and Alec...that ending though. 
I liked the plot and it kept me interested. The fight scenes were extremely well-written and my heart rate sped up more than once in this book. The epilogue was also beautifully written and it tore at my heart. I love Jace and Clary together and they were just so wonderful in the epilogue!

My only complaint is, is that the continuous making out scenes were happening a bit too often and it made some parts seem as if they dragged on. I love my Mortal Instruments OTPs but if there is a make-out scene disrupting the flow of the novel I will become slightly bored. 

Overall, I really enjoyed City of Lost Souls! I feel as if it has reignited my love for the series and I am very happy that I didn't stop at City of Fallen Angels. I'm eagerly waiting for City of Heavenly Fire and hopefully I will be able to purchase it this weekend. City of Lost Souls was heartfelt and at times, heartbreaking. It shows the lengths a person will go to to save the ones they love, even if it means death itself. Fast-paced and action packed with romance and humour, I've once again been reminded why I really adore this series!

I give it: 4/5 CUPCAKES!
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Thursday, 10 July 2014

Review - Mockingbird - Katheryn Erskine

MockingbirdTitle: Mockingbird
Series: N/A
Author: Katheryn Erskine
Genre: Middle-Grade, Contemporary
Publication: April 15th 2010, Puffin
Pages: 235 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you to Katheryn Erskine for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 5/5 Cupcakes!
Caitlin has Asperger's. The world according to her is black and white; anything in between is confusing. Before, when things got confusing, Caitlin went to her older brother, Devon, for help. But Devon was killed in a school shooting, and Caitlin's dad is so distraught that he is just not helpful. Caitlin wants everything to go back to the way things were, but she doesn't know how to do that. Then she comes across the word closure--and she realizes this is what she needs. And in her search for it, Caitlin discovers that the world may not be so black and white after all.
I received this book to review awhile ago, but for some idiotic reason I never picked it up earlier and I chastise myself for not reading this powerful, thought-provoking gem of a novel sooner. Mockingbird is amazing, it's heart-warming but contains an equal amount of heartbreak which will have you in tears. It sends forth the simple but generally unused message in today's world of the importance of understanding those around you, as well as understanding yourself. It thoroughly depicts the tragic events that can unfold when the simple, humane gesture of sympathy and empathy is disregarded and left unpractised.

Mockingbird is told from ten year old Caitlin's perspective. Caitlin has Asperger's Syndrome, she experiences difficulty understanding the emotions of those around her, as well as understanding the difference in her and why people often shun her for it. Caitlin sees things in black and white, something is either this or that, and she doesn't like it when things blend together and she can't distinguish one thing from the other. The person who helped her understand and taught her the correct way to behave and such was her older brother, Devon, who was tragically shot and killed in a Virginian school shooting. Caitlin tries to comprehend the shocking loss of her brother and the fact that she has to accept to life without him, but it's no easy feat. When she starts talking to Mrs Brook , her school's therapist, and she learns about the word “closure”, she makes it her mission to try and find closure for herself, her dad and everyone in need of it. With many new discoveries and mishaps on her journey, Caitlin learns that not everything in life is in black and white or set in stone, and that these different “colours” and unexpected situations in between are often beautiful things that are required for the healing process.

This book was utterly amazing, I absolutely adored it. It left a huge impact on me and I believe it's a story that will stay with me for many years to come. I have utterly no complaints about this book, and if there were one, the only complaint would be that I wish it were longer.

I adored our main character Caitlin. At ten years old, she has lost her mother to cancer and her brother to a vicious school shooting, as well as having been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome she has to deal with life's confusing daily struggles that are thrown at her. Caitlin is a strong character, and although she's had this horrific turmoil at such a young age and the impact on her is evident, you can still see how hard she works at trying to get through this and to understand the things happening around her. Caitlin is such an amazing, steadfast, determined person that is honest and kind. The things she says are amusing and insightful and it often resonated deep within me. She perceives things differently and she observes things that other people don't. It was extremely interesting reading a book where the narrator is one with Aspergers and I think the author did a fantastic job portraying Caitlin as a girl with Asperger's.

Caitlin's character growth throughout the novel is one that warmed my heart. She went from this girl that had a difficult time understanding those around her and saying things that were often too honest, to being someone who could make friends and connect and empathise with those around her. When she started making friends with first-grader Michael and interacting with kids in her class and being so kind and learning how to be a friend, it made me tear up. I loved watching Caitlin grow into a more self-assured, empathetic person who could better understand the world in which she lives it.

There weren't that many characters who we got to see a lot of, but the ones that we did see all played a vital role in the story in accommodating Caitlin and her quest for making friends and for finding closure. I loved Michael and Mrs Brook who were so kind and helped Caitlin through her everyday struggles. I liked Caitlin's dad but I don't think he did a very good job of helping Caitlin. I think that he was just so grief-stricken that he had wrapped himself in his own cocoon and he didn't know how to break his way out of it, causing him to not always be the greatest help to Caitlin. It was really beautiful though when, with Caitlin helping herself, she also ended up helping her dad and those around her.

This novel is flawlessly written and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The writing was constructed in a simple manner yet the resulting effect was of a powerful nature. I loved being able to get inside Caitlin's head and see things from her perspective and understand the way that she views life was a learning experience that opened my eyes. I appreciated that the author wrote this book in such a gorgeous, honest manner, and that although the main topic was grief, it consisted of equally heart-warming, amusing scenes that lightened the devastation this book was centred around. 

Mockingbird also really makes a point of reminding us how vital it is for people to empathise with each other, for people to go back to the basic foundation of being a friend and learning to engage with others. Learning to project kindness and love and honesty towards every person you meet and trying to understand them. Caitlin was judged a lot and called nasty stuff sometimes and I love how she didn't let this ruffle her feathers and just went on being polite right back to them, I think we should all strive to be as determined, hard-working and kind as Caitlin.

Overall, Mockingbird was a book I shall cherish for a long time. It's a middle-grade novel that is powerful and resonates deep within in the core of the reader. Thank you to the author for writing a book with such a lovable, unique, talented and thoughtful main character and for creating such an uplifting and inspiring novel.

I give it: 5/5 CUPCAKES!

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Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Top Ten Tuesday #17 - Top Ten Blogger Confessions

These are my Top Ten Blogger Confessions:

1. My Netgalley Ratio is...horrible
It's really, really bad but I'm planning on marathoning my Netgalley books soon to try and made that number something to be proud of!

2. I haven't finished the Harry Potter series 
I know, I know, I read the first four books and never got around to finishing it. I enjoyed the first four that I read but I feel uncomfortable reading books with a lot of witchcraft in, so I never finished the series.

3. If I got a freebie on the Kindle or a review book and I see it in the library, I will take it out at the library
Although I love my Kindle, I love physical books more and if I see a book that was free or really cheap on the Kindle or one that I got for review and I see it at the library, I will most likely check it out and read it in physical book format.

4. When authors reply to me I fangirl a lot, like, a lot
Authors are a booklover's rockstars and whenever an author tweets me or replies to my emails/tweets I get super excited and fangirl and scare everyone within a 15 metre distance.

5. I don't read more than one book at a time
I hate reading more than one book at a time as my brain muddles stuff up between the books and I have a hard time adjusting to the changes of the storylines etc.

6. Sometimes I wonder if people actually read my blog
I think this is something that a lot of bloggers have felt previously. When the amount of comments and viewings plummet and it seems like no one is reading all the hard work you've put into your blog, it can be quite upsetting. There have been a few times where I get so busy and have to make so much time for blogging and then seeing so little comments on my reviews, it makes me wonder if it's worth it. I love blogging though and all the friends I've made, so I don't think I could really give it up as it's become such a huge part of me!

7. I forget to reply to comments
I love getting comments and they always make my day! But with school and other stuff on my plate I sometimes forget to reply to comments.

8. Sometimes I don't enjoy reviewing books
There, I said it. Sometimes I don't like reviewing books, especially ones that were amazing (as I can't do them justice) and ones that were merely average (never know what to say) but as I write it gets easier to put down what I felt.

9. I get distracted by social media and it eats up at my reading time
I know, I feel so bad for this. Sometimes I say I'll just quickly check Instagram or Twitter but then I end up on Youtube and watching BookTube videos and then I'll end up posting pictures of books on Instagram and tweeting about books and not actually getting in enough reading time! 

10. I take out a lot of library books even though I have so many of my own to read ._.
I have a lot of books on my TBR pile - and I don't use that term lightly! There's literally about 500 books on my physical TBR pile and then quite a few more on my Kindle and lately I've been knocking off quite a lot of books though and I AM PROUD! 

Because I'm trying to review my review books and I often review my own books, I like going to the library and reading just for fun! Reading for fun is why I love reading and why I started blogging and if I read too many books that I have to review in a row, it feels like a chore and that's not what reading is.
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Saturday, 5 July 2014

Stacking the Shelves #64

Stacking the Shelves

Hi guys! Hope you're having a great weekend so far!

I went to the library and I got some books that I'm pretty excited for! I'm in a contemporary mood at the moment, which is weird as I generally prefer reading them in summer, and so all my library books are contemporaries. 

Some of these books I have never heard of before but they got good(ish) ratings and I am excited to read them! 

Library Books:
The above photo is of my library books, as they are the only books I managed to get this week!

1. Plan B - Jenny O' Connell
I've never actually heard of this book but it sounded really good and the storyline sounds pretty interesting so I'm pretty excited to read it!

I've read three Sarah Dessen books so far - 2 of which I hated and 1 of which I loved! This book looks really interesting and I'm excited to see whether or not I enjoy it.

The Nannies sounds really entertaining and like it's going to be quite a funny read and I'm looking forward to reading it!

I'm so excited to read this as it's been on my wishlist for ages and Lauren St John is one of the nicest authors I've spoken to! 

This is Christian teenage fiction and it looks like a cute read so I'm looking forward to reading it!

This sounded good...but then when I got home and read some reviews a lot of people said the swearing was vulgar, so if I try reading this and I come across lots of swearing, I'll DNF it.

So, this is this week's book haul! Leave your link in the comments below and I will stop by :)

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Thursday, 3 July 2014

Review - Just One Year - Gayle Forman

Just One Year (Just One Day, #2)Title: Just One Year
Series: Just One Day #2
Author: Gayle Forman
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 336 Pages, Paperback
Publication: January 1st 2013, Definitions (Young Adult)
Source: Thank you to Pan Macmillan for sending me this in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 4/5 Cupcakes!
Twenty-four hours can change your life . . .
Allyson and Willem share one magical day together in Paris, before chance rips them apart.
The romantic, emotional companion to Just One Day, this is a story of the choices we make and the accidents life throws at us.
But is one day enough to find your fate?

After I finished Just One Day, I could barely contain my excitement upon starting the companion novel - Just One Year. Just One Year is told from Willem's POV and he retells what happens after he left and about his family and history. I felt like we didn't get to know Willem all that much in Just One Day, so I was extremely excited to be able to familiarise myself with him in this book!

As I said, Just One Year is about Willem and his story on what happened after he left Allyson. It's his journey of self-discovery and finding himself, as well as trying to find Lulu who made him realise the meaning of love and happiness.

I really loved Just One Year, I loved learning more about Willem. I was intrigued to hear more about his family life and his adventures and why he acted like such a jerk and left Lulu (Allyson). It was interesting finally being able to hear his side of the story, as my opinion really changed on him. I felt sorry for him and the loss he endured. His concept of finding himself when he was lost was really fascinating and there were some gorgeous quotes in here!

If I read this book on it's own, I probably would've given it a lower rating as at times it felt like nothing much happened. However, because it's the companion novel I adored it! I felt the two books together are absolutely gorgeous and they are poignant and emotional and a heart-wrenching love story about two people falling in love and then then being separated and trying to find each other.

The writing is once again beautifully written with so many meaningful, sincere quotes. Sometimes I felt as if nothing much happened but I still enjoyed the novel overall.

Just One Year is the beautifully-written, heart-warming and poignant novel that is told from the point of view of Willem. I loved Willem and I felt his character growth throughout the novel. His love for Lulu resonated throughout, as well as the melancholy he felt when he couldn't find her.

Just One Year was another inspirational and captivating novel by the talented Gayle Forman. The true meaning of love, happiness, family and the miracle of coincidence are strong themes throughout and it was a raw, emotional novel.

I give it: 4/5 Cupcakes!
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Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Review - Just One Day - Gayle Forman

Just One Day (Just One Day, #1)Title: Just One Day
Series: Just One Day #1
Author: Gayle Forman
Publication: January 10th 2013, Random House
Pages: 369 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you to RandomStruik for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 4/5 Cupcakes!
When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.
I've heard nothing but good things about Gayle Forman's novels. I've had Just One Day sitting on my TBR pile for a while and I decided to pick it up as it felt like a summer's day and I wanted to sink my teeth into a heart-warming, light-hearted contemporary. However, Just One Day was deeper and more intense than I realised and the ending was completely and utterly heart-breaking. And I loved it! Just One Day was a fantastic and I'm eager to begin reading the sequel, Just One Year, straight away!

Just One Day is about good girl, eighteen year old Allyson Healey who goes on a tour to Europe (her high school graduation gift from her parents) and on the last day of a tour, she meets a boy and does something completely out of her character - she decides to go to Paris with him, for just one day. As they explore the cobbled streets of Paris, Allyson "Lulu", starts to fall in love with Willem and she believes that their could be a genuine connection between  them. They spend the night together and the next day Allyson wakes up - alone. Willem is gone, she never got his cellphone number or his email address and there is no way to contact him and she returns to America feeling depressed, heart-broken and utterly confused. As she begins college and sinks deeper and deeper into depression, she, and her friends soon realise they need to do something ASAP. Allyson decides that she needs to look for what she lost and go back to Paris. Doing that, she can receive the answers she desperately needs.

I really enjoyed this book! I love books that explore the feeling of wanderlust and going on journeys physically and mentally and not only embarking on an adventure, but also embarking on the rollercoaster ride of self-discovery. It explores the side-effects of coincidences and the amount your life can change in just a matter of 24 hours. It delves deeper into the meaning of true love and finding your real identity - basically, this book was exactly the kind of book that I like to read.

I think that a lot of people will read this book and scoff Allyson, they'll think she's crazy for going off with him in the first place (I agree) and they'll probably scoff her for falling in love with a guy she barely knows and who she only spent one day with. I, however, thought it was a fantastic story and I really sympathize for Allyson as it's not something someone should have to go through. This book wasn't definitely one that is deeper and more heart-breaking than you would think when going into it, but I loved reading this book and it conveyed such emotions within me. I felt happiness, anger, sadness, disbelief, love and hate and these emotions all intermingled and it created such a wonderful reading experience.

When I was first introduced to Allyson, I liked her. She is a good girl and everyone knows that, she received As in all her AP classes and always did the right thing, most of this being to please her parents who she feels like who she is never enough for. Her mom controlled her throughout middle-grade and high-school and Allyson is enjoying the fact that she can finally begin to live her own life, even though she is unsure of that at first. I really enjoyed watching Allyson's self-discovery, her change was evident throughout the book and at the end I was happy about the person she became. An independent person who was confident and self-assured and was willing to take risks and to live her own life. I loved watching her personal journey. She set out to find somebody and along the way she also ended up finding herself. It was just such a beautiful and heart-warming thing to watch, as well as quite a heart-breaking one. Being abandoned by this boy she thought she loved really ruined her confidence and she became so depressed and when she started trying to make herself happy instead of her parents I was cheerleading her on. I loved the new friend she made and I loved how they helped her out of this personal hell that she had somehow managed to fall into.

We don't actually get to know that much about Willem and too be honest, he irritated me and frustrated me and I wanted to slap him. I couldn't comprehend how he just left her like that. He was a player, that is evident from the hints that were dropped throughout the story and I was shocked several times towards the end. I think he has got an interesting backstory and I'm really excited to read from his point of view in the sequel. There were parts between him and Allyson that were really cute and funny and charged with chemistry and I wish there was more of them in the story. He was such a big part of it but we didn't actually see him that much, but maybe that was the intended effect as Allyson didn't actually know that much about him either but she felt that there was a chemistry between them that she couldn't deny.

The secondary characters were fantastic! I loved Babs and Dee and the minor characters that she meets travelling such as Wren and the Australian group and Wolfgang and Miss Foley. I didn't really care much for her best friend Melanie and she also frustrated me at times, as she could be quite hypocritical and attention seeking. I love Dee though, Allyson's gay friend - he is amazing! Him and Allyson meet when she starts taking Shakespearean classes and I love how they get to know each other and their study dates. He is just so exuberant and funny and he is just so sassy, he is such a phenomenal character and I wish there was more of him incorporated throughout the story.

I loved all the other minor characters who she met on her trip, they all played some role in the story, some crucial part in Allyson's story. They all somehow helped her in someway and it just added a more personal touch to the book.

I loved the whole storyline and whilst the first half of the book was more fun and fluffy, the second half was much more deeper and heart-wrenching. I can understand how happy and in love she must've felt that first day and then when she woke up to an empty place I could imagine the panic and betrayal she must've felt. The second half of the book was so much much fun to read! I loved reading about how Allyson starts choosing the college courses that she actually wants to take and tries to make herself happy. I loved how her and her mom slowly had to rebuild their relationship and it just made me so happy when Allyson felt that she could share more stuff with her parents, especially with the whole backstory of her mom and her inability to conceive. I loved watching how she worked at the cafe and the relationship she formed with Babs and the other employees and how everyone she told her story to would be so captivated by this and do the best they could to help her. I just absolutely adored this whole plot line and the characters.

The ending absolutely shattered me and I couldn't quite believe it, it's definitely a sort of cliffhanger and I am so excited to see what happens next.

Just One Day is a beautifully-crafted novel about being impulsive and the happiness, heartbreak and unexpected happenings that it can bring. It's about losing yourself to find yourself and the true meaning of falling in love and being in love. I love Gayle Forman's writing and I could really lose myself in the world that she created. The characters are realistic with flaws yet they all had redeeming qualities that made me fall in love with them all over again. I loved the kindness and happiness and the friendship that was placed in the story as well as the darker themes of first heartbreak. I loved how Shakespeare featured in this novel and it helped her grow more confident and be herself. Just One Day was a beautiful, moving novel of self-discovery and one that made me think of the true meaning of coincidence and chances.

I give it: 4/5 CUPCAKES!

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YA Bound Book Tours: Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch

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Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch
Release Date: 07/01/14 Entangled Teen

Summary from Goodreads:

Perfection comes at a price.

As soon as the government passed legislation allowing humans to be genetically engineered and
sold as pets, the rich and powerful rushed to own beautiful girls like Ella. Trained from birth
to be graceful, demure, and above all, perfect, these “family companions” enter their masters’
homes prepared to live a life of idle luxury.

Ella is happy with her new role as playmate for a congressman’s bubbly young daughter, but she doesn't expect Penn, the congressman’s handsome and rebellious son. He’s the only person who sees beyond the perfect exterior to the girl within. Falling for him goes against every rule she knows...and the freedom she finds with him is intoxicating. But when Ella is kidnapped and thrust into the dark underworld lurking beneath her pampered life, she’s faced with an unthinkable choice. Because the only thing more dangerous than staying with Penn’s family is leaving...and if she’s unsuccessful, she’ll face a fate far worse than death.

For fans of Keira Cass’s Selection series and Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden series, Perfected is a chilling look at what it means to be human, and a stunning celebration of the power of love to set us free, wrapped in a glamorous—and dangerous—bow.
Praise for Perfected:
“Compelling, imaginative, and unique. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough!”
— Mary Lindsey, author of Shattered Souls
Buy Links:
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The author of Perfected: Kate Jarvik Birch
Excerpt: (From Chapter 1)
“Remember... You'll never be one of them,” Miss Gellner said, repositioning each of us 

on our divans in the sitting room so our gowns draped elegantly around our crossed ankles. 

She stepped back and gazed at the group of us, her face pinched and stern like always, 

but I spotted a tiny glimmer of pride behind her rheumy eyes. Twenty girls: lovely, demure, 

quiet. She was pleased with us, even if she wouldn’t say it out loud.

Miss Gellner blinked, as if bringing herself back to the moment. “Things won’t change 

once you leave here,” she went on. “Simply because you’ll be pampered and spoiled, your life’s 

mission won’t suddenly be any different. Remember that. Your sole purpose is to enrich the lives 

of your new owners.”

As she said this, she lightly tapped her bamboo training stick against my back, not a hard 

whack the way she had done relentlessly when we first transferred from the Greenwich Kennel 

to the training center, where she and her staff could cultivate us into the sort of girls we were 

bred to be. This was just a warning tap, reminding me to sit so that my spine was a stem, and I 

was the flower resting atop it.

It was a pose we’d practiced daily for the past four years; during music and etiquette and 

dining, even during our nightly baths. But the fluttering in my stomach distracted me, drawing 

me down into myself. My whole body felt fluttery: my hands, my feet, even my eyes. I worried 

that the moment the two grand doors leading to the reception room swung open, I might flap 

away; a feather caught on the wind.

Next to me, Seven bit nervously at her bottom lip. It was weird to think that by tonight 

she’d have a new name, a real one. The breeders at Greenwich assigned us numbers as names 

at conception: One through Twenty, since twenty was the maximum number of girls they were 

allowed to have each year. I was Eight, but not for much longer. By tonight, I could be anything. 

Across the room, Miss Gellner took a few steps towards the grand wooden doors, resting 

her hand lightly on the knob before she turned to face us one last time. 

"I want you to keep your composure when they come in. I've spent four years preparing 

you for this moment.” She thumped her training stick on the ground for emphasis. “Four years. 

Don’t waste them. Each move that you make, every turn of your head and pout of your lip speaks 

to my effectiveness as a trainer and I won’t have that work tarnished. When I open these doors, I 

expect you to remember all the things I've taught you.”

The stiff lining of my dress rubbed against my rib cage and I ached to shift to a more 

comfortable position, but I held still, staring straight ahead at Miss Gellner with a soft smile 

placed carefully on my lips.  

“Be sure to hold your tongues,” she went on. “You are not doing the selecting. Do not 

ask questions. Speak if spoken to, but keep your answers brief. We don't want to scare away a 

potential buyer with a girl who has too forward a notion of who’s in charge." 

Beside me, the other girls were sitting silently. We were perfectly trained, all of us. 

And lovely, too. In our new dresses, we looked like royalty. Miss Gellner had picked out a 

different shade of gown for each of us, our first piece of clothing that was distinctly ours. She’d 

deliberated long and hard on the color choices. She wanted us each to look different. It wouldn't 

do for the customers to think they were getting cloned girls even though there were plenty of 

differences between us to set us apart. Yes, we all had large eyes, spaced perfectly on our heart 

shaped faces. We all had small noses, long, thin necks, and rose petal lips. But we each had 

distinct coloring. Seven’s hair was nearly black. Sixteen’s eyes were green, the color of fresh 

summer grass, and Twenty’s skin was the same warm brown of the toasted bread that we were 

rewarded with on Sunday mornings. We were unique. One of a kind.

I was happy with the dress Miss Gellner had chosen for me. It was the palest shade of 

blue, hardly a color at all. These dresses would be the only item that would accompany us to our 

new homes. Our new owners would provide everything else. 

"We’re lucky to have a number of congressmen and senators here today," Miss Gellner 

went on. "Power, prestige, wealth, you'll be surrounded by the best, which is why it is important 

that you be the best." Miss Gellner sighed, nodding her head once. “All right girls. It’s time.” 

 She turned and threw open the doors. “Ladies... Gentlemen...” her voice boomed as she 

glided into the next room. “If you’ll kindly follow me, I’ll show you to the sitting room. You’ll 

have a chance to look over each of the girls before you make your decision. As I told each of you 

over the phone, the number on your tag will determine the order of selection.” 

A moment later a stream of bodies and voices flowed into the room. I drew a breath 

and held it, trying to compose myself, but the fluttering inside me only grew worse. My vision 

blurred as the men and women pressed closer, talking loudly to one another.

“Oh my! They’re so little,” a woman cooed “They look like twelve-year-olds.”

“I can assure you, they’re sixteen,” Miss Gellner said. “They’re fully grown; all 

measuring in at exactly five feet.”

An older man grabbed a lock of my hair and rubbed it between his fingers. “Like corn 

silk,” he said to the woman next to him. “Did you say you were hoping for a blond or a red head? 

This one almost seems like a mix of the two.”

“And it does have beautiful eyes. Look, they’re practically turquoise,” she crooned. “But, 

I was hoping for a real red head. There’s an auburn one over there we should look at.”

I didn’t dare turn my head to watch them walk across the room to look at Ten.

A middle-aged couple finished looking at Seven and circled around me. I blinked a few 

times, finally bringing my eyes back into focus as the man’s dark eyes skated over me. He was 

obviously quite a bit older than me, but his jaw was much stronger than the other men I’d seen 

so far and his eyes were bright. A sprinkling of gray hairs dusted the dark hair at his temples. 

The woman beside him had probably been a beauty when she was younger, but now she was a 

different sort of beautiful: regal and refined. She was tall, even taller than Miss Gellner, with 

high cheekbones, a strong jaw, and long arched brows perched overtop piercing blue eyes. Even 

though she had lines around her eyes and mouth, her hair was almost as dark as Seven’s, without 

a hint of gray. Everything about her intimidated me.

“Now this has some promise,” the man said, looking into my eyes. “Do you like this 

“Oh, John, do we really need to do this?” The woman sighed, her eyes drifting around the 

“Do what, Darling?”

“You can cut it with the ‘Darling’, too. It’s not like anyone’s listening. They’re busy 

choosing their own pets,” she said, gesturing towards the rest of the people in the room with an 

elegant sweep of her arm. “And you can stop pretending I have any say in your precious little 

project. You know I couldn’t care less about getting her.”

Her husband stepped forward, so close their bodies almost touched. “You know how it 

looks for us not to have one, don’t you? After all the time I spent getting this bill to pass. People 

are saying things. You don’t want them to think—”

She took a step away from him, eyeing an old man who had turned his attention to their 

conversation. “Whatever you say, Dear,” she interrupted. “I’m merely along for the ride.”

“You can’t argue that Ruby needs this,” the man said. “We agreed.”

Her face softened. “I know.”

He took a deep breath, and when he turned back to me, it was as if he’d flipped a switch, 

changing his face back to the same well-groomed look of prominence and stature I’d seen on it 

to begin with.

“Stand up and give us a little whirl, Love,” he said to me.

I hadn’t anticipated the weakness in my legs, but I stood and turned slowly, the way I learned in 

my Poise lessons. I kept my chin up, neck elongated, my arms held out ever so slightly from my 

sides as if my hands were brushing the skirt of a tutu. 

The man smiled once I faced him again. “And what are your talents? The Kennel Trainer 

said that you each specialized in two.”

“My talents are piano, dance, and singing. Although my vocal range is not as diverse as

His forehead creased, his eyes narrowing, and my stomach flipped. If Miss Gellner had 

been standing next to me, she would have lashed me with her stick. We’d practiced our lines 

over and over and still I said it wrong. There hadn’t been any need for me to point out my faults 

so blatantly. I should have only mentioned the piano and dance and not said anything about the 

singing. I was trying too hard to impress.

“Three talents?” he asked. “Marvelous. I suppose We’d be getting a little bit more bang 

for the buck if we go with you then, isn’t that right?”

The man’s phrasing confused me and I lowered my eyes to the ground and smiled softly 

the way we’d been taught to do if we ever didn’t know how to answer a question.

“So which is your favorite?”

“Favorite?” I asked.

“Which one do you like the most?”

“I’m quite good at all three as long as the song I’m singing is written for a mezzo 


“But certainly you have a favorite?”

My mind raced, trying to think over all the scenarios we’d spoken about like this one in 

our Conversation class, but I drew a blank. Those classes were meant to help us understand our 

new owner better, not to help them understand us. I couldn’t come right out and tell him that I 

had a favorite. Miss Gellner would be outraged. Maybe I could try to change the subject? But 

then he might realize I was doing it to avoid his question, and he would know that I really did 

have a favorite. 

It was too complicated an interaction.

The woman smiled slyly. “Maybe she doesn’t understand your question John. Sure, she’s 

pretty, but they weren’t bred for brains.”

“I thought you said you wanted to stay out of this.”

She raised her hands and took a step back without saying another word.

The man tried again. “What I mean to say is: which one of your talents do you prefer? Is 

there one that makes you particularly happy?”

I swallowed, hoping to push down the rock that had lodged itself in my throat. “Well sir, 

if there’s one that you prefer, I’m sure I’d be delighted to perform for you.”

The man sighed and shook his head. “Never mind. Why don’t you sit back down?”

I smiled once more and sank back onto the divan, trying to hold my head high even 

though my eyes burned. 

For the next hour, the groups of men and women circled around the room. They were all 

so much bigger than I’d imagined they’d be, not only in their physical stature, but their presence, 

as if the room couldn’t contain them. They gobbled up the air.

Finally Miss Gellner moved us into the concert room. We’d each been assigned one 

talent to demonstrate to give the clients a better taste of what they’d be buying. Four and Five 

would each be performing an adagio en pointe, a few girls were playing the flute and the cello, 

but the majority of us would be playing the piano or singing. 

Maybe it should have bothered me that I wouldn’t stand out, but all I could think about 

as we sat down in the velvet seats arranged along the edges of the room was Debussy’s First 

Arabesque in E major, the song Miss Gellner had chosen for me to play. It wasn’t an elaborate 

song. I could play solos that were so much more difficult like the piece by Prokofiev that I 

learned last year, but I was glad she hadn’t chosen that one. Sure, I wouldn’t be able to show off 

my finger work playing the First Arabesque, but that didn’t matter. I could already feel the notes 

of the song moving up through my fingers and arms, a soft vibration that settled somewhere at 

the base of my neck like the warm hand of a friend. 

We moved in order: One, Two, Three, Four, on and on until finally it was my turn. As I 

climbed the stairs to the small stage at the front of the room and sat on the tufted cushion of the 

piano bench, it was as if a white curtain had been drawn down between the crowd and me. I took 

a deep breath, savoring the moment before I placed my hands on the keys and started to play.

My fingers floated over the ivories for only a short four minutes, but my heart and mind 

quieted. I didn’t know if the other girls felt this way when they were playing, as if they were all 

alone and the rest of the world melted away leaving the air awash in soft color. I’d always been 

too embarrassed to ask. What if it meant that I had something wrong with me? 

Those four minutes didn’t last long enough and before I knew it my fingers had stopped, 

hovering over the keys as the last notes died away. A polite spattering of applause brought me 

back to the room full of strangers. As I stood, I glanced out into the audience, allowing myself to 

imagine which of these people might be my future owner. Toward the back of the room I spotted 

the man with the salt and pepper hair and his wife. Neither of them was clapping, but for just a 

second he held my gaze and nodded ever so slightly. 

That small gesture made my face burn with shame. He knew that I lied to him before 

when he’d asked me which one of my talents was my favorite. Of course it was piano, but I 

could never say it out loud. I was supposed to bring pleasure to my new masters, not to find 

pleasure for myself. 

A cold sweat broke out across my back and I shivered, sitting back down on my chair to 

watch the remainder of the performances. If he could read me so easily, maybe everyone else 

could, too.


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