Monday, 26 January 2015

Personal Post #1: Aching Teeth and Anxiety

This weekend, I'm sad to say, has not been good to me. As some of you may know I suffer from severe anxiety disorder and although it's been better in recent months, it seems like it has returned. As some of you also may know is that I have quite skew teeth and I'm currently three months into my orthodontic treatment. So far I've had a removable plate and yesterday I got orthodontic spacers, which I'm pretty sure were made by the devil himself. Because it hurts. Badly. It's the worst pain I've ever felt and it's an utter living nightmare. My weekend has mostly consisted of:

See, I went to the orthodontist and I thought my plate was just going to be tightened but then he looked at my bite and decided it was time for the orthodontic spacers, and it's not good timing as my cousin's visiting for two weeks and I've basically been an anxious, crying wreck because of my teeth. Also, with anxiety, your senses are heightened and every little thing in your body you feel more. We also like knowing that we can "escape" an anxious situation and I know that I can't remove the spacers so it really freaks me out.

This is NOT my picture, I got it from here.
They're tiny but don't let that deceive you, it's as painful as anything because it's moving your teeth roots. YES, IT'S AS HORRIBLE AS IT SOUNDS. So whenever I chew something it's like sharp shooting pains throughout my teeth and jaw, so I mainly have to eat oats/noodles/the center of bread/yogurt because other things are too painful. Yesterday morning I woke up at 3:30 because the pain was so bad. 

I've been having really bad anxiety where I have constant heart palpitations, nausea, shakiness and where it feels like my whole body is burning up because I'm so anxious about the pain and how weird it all feels. Yesterday, after the pain got really bad and the panic attacks so intense, I was so tempted to pull them out and just go get straight teeth when I'm older. But my teeth are something I have quite a complex about, so I really want to continue the treatment even if that means being perpetually anxious.
Here are some pictures of my bottom teeth and my plate. The after photo was taken two months after the before photo and I was so happy when I saw the plate was actually working!

My plate!
My bottom teeth
 I'm hoping that the pain will get better soon. Next Monday I'm going to get the lower plate in and I'm utterly terrified, so wish me luck!

I just thought I'd like to share this with you guys because it's always nice getting to know the blogger behind their blog. Would you like to see more personal posts?
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Sunday, 25 January 2015

Review - One of the Guys - Lisa Aldin

One of the GuysTitle: One of the Guys
Series: N/A
Author: Lisa Aldin
Publication: February 10th 2015, Spencer Hill Press
Pages: 320 Pages, Ebook
Source: Thank you to Netgalley and Spencer Hill Contemporary
Rating: 5/5 Cupcakes
Tomboy to the core, Toni Valentine understands guys. She'll take horror movies, monster hunts and burping contests over manicures. So Toni is horrified when she's sent to the Winston Academy for Girls, where she has to wear a skirt and learn to be a lady while the guys move on without her.
Then Toni meets Emma Elizabeth, a girl at school with boy troubles, and she volunteers one of her friends as a pretend date. Word spreads of Toni’s connections with boys, and she discovers that her new wealthy female classmates will pay big money for fake dates. Looking for a way to connect her old best friends with her new life at school, Toni and Emma start up Toni Valentine’s Rent-A-Gent Service. 
But the business meets a scandal when Toni falls for one of her friends--the same guy who happens to be the most sought-after date. With everything she's built on the line, Toni has to decide if she wants to save the business and her old life, or let go of being one of the guys for a chance at love. 
*Quotes are taken from my ARC copy, so quotes are susceptible to change* 

I love contemporaries. That, and paranormal/fantasy, are my favorite genres. So, naturally, when I saw it I requested it as it had a Jenny Han feel about it. Well, I don't regret it. I absolutely LOVED this book and I seriously hope that it'll be made into a movie, I think it would be the perfect Disney movie and I would be first in line to see it.

One of the Guys is centered around Toni Valentine and her 3 best boy friends, a friendship formed in second grade when they were down by the lake and saw the black tail of the legendary lake monster, Champ. As Toni and her friends are about to enter their senior year, she decides to pull a prank on their principal. After her parents find out, they decide to ship her off to Winston Academy for Girls, a private all-girls school. She soon befriends Emma Elizabeth Swanson who has boyfriend problems and needs a way to make her boyfriend jealous, Toni decides to let her best friend - Loch - pretend to be Emma's boyfriend. Soon, word spreads and Loch (and Toni's other friends) are in demand for various reasons: to impress parents, to prove something, to make someone jealous. And so the Rent-a-Gent-Service begins. However, tensions rise between the friends, as well as between Loch and Toni as she struggles to contain the not-so-platonic feelings she begins to feel for him. Will their friendship survive the strain?

Like I said, I LOVED this book. I started it on Friday afternoon and by the time night rolled around I was over 70% through the book. I rarely, rarely read most of a book in one sitting so you can tell I really, really enjoyed it. A lot. I loved the characters, the story, the whole idea of the book, I loved the slow-burning romance, I loved the friendship, I just loved everything about it, really. 

The characters were lovely. I absolutely adored Toni and I felt like I could relate to her quite a lot. She struggled with moving on, accepting change and disappointing people. She was uncertain about things and she was a very real and authentic character. I could just relate to her with so much. I'm also afraid of change and of what the future may hold (I have anxiety. I literally worry about everything and the future is definitely one of them!) and she loves her life the way it is and she loves her friends and I could feel her sinking terror as their friendship slowly started to unravel and things irrevocably changed.
"Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, layered in sweat, gasping for air, freaking out about choosing wrong or disappointing someone, even if that someone is myself." (55%)
"I hate time. It can really screw things up." (4%)
I could relate to that a lot. I worry about disappointing my friends, my family and myself - I think we all do - and it was invigorating reading about a character whose worries so accurately measure my own.

Although she starts out hesitant and weary in the beginning, she grows and she learns and she accepts the fact that things will change. She learns to let go of things and embrace the change, even though it terrifies her.
"Maybe change doesn't have to mean growing apart. Maybe it can mean growing closer."
She had good intentions, she really wanted to help her friends and she so badly wished that they could stay in this bubble, a bubble that would dismiss the fact that within a few months they would have to go off in different directions as the high-school chapter of their life closes and they forge their way to becoming an adult. I could totally understand her fear of going to university and leaving her old life behind and all the people that she had loved through the arduous years of growing up. I just utterly adored Toni and after I closed the book, I felt like I had just made a new best friend.

I adored the three boys, except for Ollie who acted like a spoiled brat for the majority of the novel. I love, love, love Loch and Cowboy (they all have nicknames). Loch was so kind and sweet and understanding and he's my new book-boyfriend. Sorry guys, I dibs him. And then there's Cowboy, sweet, adorable Cowboy who loves reading. I'm in love with him, I swear. I would absolutely LOVE it if the author wrote a book from Cowboy's perspective. He's so sweet, shy, clever, awkward and I just love him so much. Ollie infuriated me to no end. He was rude and obnoxious to Toni and he blamed her for ruining his snowboarding plans because his parents became severely strict with him after him and Toni pranked the principal. I was like "IT WAS YOUR FAULT, stupid." as you went along with it and you were known to not take things seriously beforehand.

I also really liked Emma, Toni's new friend she makes at her new school. She was sweet, hard-working and determined as it was in her Life Plan to attend Harvard. I love it when characters have goals and it was lovely to see a character who will try her hardest in life to make her dreams come true. I also loved her and Emma's friendship and I think it was healthy for Toni to finally have a female friend as there are just some things you can't talk about or do with male friends. So it was lovely to see Toni's progression in making friends outside of the circle of the three boys.

The romance was quite slow-burning and the majority of it was skinny love: when two people know they're in love and they mainly show they're in love but they don't admit it. Most of the book I wanted to shove Toni and Micah's heads together and yell "KISS ALREADY" - although I most certainly did participate in yelling just that at my Kindle screen. You could tell they were in love and that they had chemistry but they didn't want to admit it in fear of ruining the friendship and I was just like:

But yes, I do ship them and I wish I could've seen more of them together.

I loved the plot. I loved the Rent-a-Gent service and I loved the Hunt they went on for the legendary lake monster to see if they could spot him again. I loved watching Toni transfer to her new school and I loved reading about them going to the ski camp. I wasn't bored for a single moment and it kept my attention the whole way through.

I also love the way Lisa writes. There's never any awkwardness in dialogue, there's no halting in the plot, it's written in the perfect manner, in the perfect pace. An impressive novel for a debut author!

Overall, One of the Guys was a book that I was highly anticipating and it definitely lived up to my elevated expectations and I will go so far as to say it's one of my favorite books I've read this year. With charming characters, a gorgeous story line, a wonderful romance and superb writing, One of the Boys will steal your heart, make you laugh and make you feel desperation simultaneously along with the characters. A magnificent debut novel. 

I give it: 5/5 Cupcakes!

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Saturday, 24 January 2015

Stacking the Shelves #75 - A Small Haul because for the First Time in Forever I was Capable of Something like Self-Restraint

Stacking the Shelves

As you can see from the title, I didn't go all-out with requesting/library/buying and I am extremely proud of myself!

Yes, yes, I am doing exactly that.

So, I know I said I wouldn't request anything on Netgalley but then I saw a contemporary that looked great, as well being able to download a book because a book club I'm part of contacted the publicist. SO YAY!

Netgalley Books Received:
The Boy Next DoorThe Secrets Between You and Me (Stolen Kisses #2)

THEY'RE CONTEMPORARIES. And they look really good. And I can't wait to read them! Squee!

What books did you get this weekend?
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Thursday, 22 January 2015

Review - Paper or Plastic - Vivi Barnes

Paper or Plastic
Title: Paper or Plastic
Series: N/A
Author: Vivi Barnes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publication: February 3rd 2015, Entangled Teen
Pages: 352 pages, Kindle
Source: Thank you to Netgalley and Entangled Publishing!
Rating: 4/5 Cupcakes!
Welcome to SmartMart, where crime pays minimum wage...
Busted. Alexis Dubois just got caught shoplifting a cheap tube of lipstick at the local SmartMart. She doesn’t know what’s worse—disappointing her overbearing beauty-pageant-obsessed mother for the zillionth time…or her punishment. Because Lex is forced to spend her summer working at the store, where the only things stranger than the staff are the customers.
Now Lex is stuck in the bizarro world of big-box retail. Coupon cutters, jerk customers, and learning exactly what a “Code B” really is (ew). And for added awkwardness, her new supervisor is the totally cute—and adorably geeky—Noah Grayson. Trying to balance her out-of-control mother, her pitching position on the softball team, and her secret crush on the school geek makes for one crazy summer. But ultimately, could the worst job in the world be the best thing that ever happened to her?

First off, I love this cover and I'd totally buy it in physical format just so I could stare at the cover the whole day. It's pink and white and pink and it's just so pretty! Secondly, I liked this book, a lot more than I thought I would. There were some things that prevented me from giving it a full five cupcakes, but other than that it was a story I took great pleasure in.

Paper or Plastic features Alexis Dubois, a sophomore that was recently caught shoplifting a tube of lipstick with her friend, Court. While her friend gets off free, Alexis has to work the summer at SmartMart, a local shop notorious for the hundreds of weird customers that trickle through on a daily basis. Having to deal with her pageant-obsessed mother, her ill grandmother, the possibility that she could lose her coveted position on the softball team and the fact that she's falling for her new manager - who also happens to be the school outcast and the boy who has bad blood with one of her best friends - Alexis soon learns that perhaps working at SmartMart isn't the worst thing that could happen.

I wasn't expecting to like Alexis as I get extremely mad with people who shoplift, but she grew on me. I I know her friend, Court, wanted her to steal it with her to see whether or not they'd get caught but I don't know why she went along with it, as she doesn't seem like such a stupid person. Although I couldn't quite wrap my head around that, like I said, she grew on me. She could be slightly judgmental but I believe she had everyone's best interests at heart and I also believe she flourished as a person. 

What I like about Lex, is that she really cares deeply about those she's close to. When her grandma's health started deteriorating, she went out of her way to be near her grandma and to help her as much as possible, as well as spending most of her free-time with her - especially on the bad days. I really admired Lex for that as sometimes you don't want to be with a person that's sick because it pains you so much, so she definitely earned my respect due to that! I also respected how she stood up for her friends and tried to keep them happy. She knew that if she told Bryce about Noah that he'd get ferociously cross about it and that it would hurt him, so she decided to not tell him to avoid the hurt and confusion he would feel even though she knew it was risky, as if he found out from someone other than her it would make him more upset.  However, she did it with good, honest intentions and I felt sorry for her when those good intentions blew up in her face.

Something I didn't like about Alexis, is that I felt she was quite judgmental about Miller, Noah's friend and that at first she seemed ungrateful for getting the chance to have theft off her record by working at SmartMart. She complained at first for having to work her summer away - which was her fault for trying to shoplift - but she accepted it and her attitude improved and her whole person improved, which was a lovely thing to see! 

I liked Noah, he was charming, caring, kind, polite and hardworking. He was always good to Alexis and he was pretty much good to everybody. He has integrity and I admire that in a character. I don't understand why people shunned him for so long, though. I understand he told the principal who the culprit of the spray-painting was but I believe that's a good thing to do. Bryce was vandalising the other team's property which is wrong and I'm glad Noah did that because Bryce - and no one else - had the right to do that. I liked Noah a lot and I felt extremely sorry for him when it was revealed that all was not perfect in Noah Grayson's life and I hope they managed to sort it out properly.

The secondary characters were okay but sometimes they didn't feel as fully fleshed out to me as the main characters, but I could always discern one from the other which was a good thing! I didn't like Bryce and Court as they seemed like the kind of people who would easily turn their backs on you. Syd seemed lovely though. It would've been fabulous if the author could've let Alexis interact more with her circle of friends so I could really get to know them, as I felt I only got to know those working at SmartMart and her family quite well, and not her friends. Ruthie was a character I couldn't quite decipher. I wasn't sure if she had a learning disability or had been severely affected by her father leaving her family or if she just had a natural childlike innocence about her. She was said to be 26 but she acted like a child, so I would've liked to know if that was just her disposition or if she perhaps had a disability.

I also enjoyed the romance, when things started heating up between Alexis and Noah, I admit that my heart did in fact beat faster and I may have gotten giddily excited because Vivi Barnes is quite good at writing romantic scenes. Although I thought those scenes were very well-written, I did find some parts of the relationship seemed awkward and that they would argue about petty things (which I wanted to slap them for, at times) and the dialogue didn't always flow particularly smoothly but I enjoyed it nonetheless and like I said, the romance scenes were written well! *fans self*

I also found it interesting how pageantry and extreme couponing was featured in this book. I've seen bits of Toddlers and Tiaras and Extreme Couponing so it was quite amusing to see it in this book and see how it affected those directly involved with it!

The plot was good and so was the writing. It wasn't overly simple, it wasn't overly detailed, it was the perfect pace and writing style for a contemporary (although the dialogue didn't seem that natural at times, but it didn't alter my enjoyment levels of the story) and I was highly addicted to it. Every spare moment I got, I wanted to read it. I wanted to know how things went with Alexis and her friends, with Noah, with her grandma. I really liked Alexis' world and I loved the world the author created and I wanted to live in it. My anxiety/panic attacks have been quite bad the last few days so it was such a comfortable feeling to get completely caught up in the story and the characters and forget about the way I was feeling. So thank you for that, Vivi! x

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It had a steady pace, comfortable writing, extremely likable characters and a plot that kept me intrigued the whole way through! I didn't want the book to end as I was completely caught up with the characters and the world that Vivi Barnes so wonderfully created. The characters learned lessons on how to be better people due to their mistakes. I highly recommend this to all contemporary lovers, as its a fun, fluffy story to wholly immerse yourself in!

I give it: 4/5 CUPCAKES!

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Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Top Ten Tuesday #26 - Top Ten Series I Want to Finish

This lovely meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

I am one of those people that is absolutely terrible finishing series. I'll see a book at the library and I'll get it out, read it, realise it's a part of a series, and add it to my mental "series-to-finish" list. This year, I really, really want to try to finish some of these series and here are some of my top ones! (The book covers are the books I still need to read in order to complete the series - they will take you to its Goodreads page)

1. The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare 
City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments, #6)

During my next holidays I'll be reading this. I wanted to read it during the holidays but then my got life got sucked up by the Skulduggery Pleasant series, which I also have yet to finish. 

2. The Skulduggery Pleasany series by Derek Landy
Last Stand of Dead Men (Skulduggery Pleasant, #8)The Dying of the Light (Skulduggery Pleasant, #9)

SQUEEEE this series is SO good and I am way too emotionally attached to the characters. Apparently these two are going to leave me heartbroken. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't terrified.

3. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5)Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter, #6)Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)

I KNOW, I KNOW. I was going to read it in the holidays but like I said, I was kind of addicted to the Skulduggery Pleasant series. BUT SOON, my friends. Sooooon.

4. The Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor
Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #3)

I read the second book last week and I loved it! I was bored out of my mind for the first 200 pages but then I fell totally in love with it. I really need this book because I am desperate to know what happens. Also, these covers are beautiful.

5. Anna and the French Kiss Trilogy/Companion Novels by Stephanie Perkins
Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss, #3)

I love love LOVE Stephanie Perkins' books and I'm sure I'll enjoy this too! I read a couple of pages a few months ago but then I put it down because I wasn't in the mood for a contemporary. I really need to pick this up soon!

6. Caster Chronicles by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Beautiful Darkness (Caster Chronicles, #2)Beautiful Chaos (Caster Chronicles, #3)Beautiful Redemption (Caster Chronicles, #4)

I was uncertain of reading Beautiful Creatures due to all the negative reviews I read but I loved it and I desperately want to continue the series!

7. The Books of Beginning by John Stephens
It hasn't got a cover yet, but I'm sure it will be fabulous. I LOVE this series, it's a fantastically well-written middle-grade fantasy and I highly recommend it! It's coming out this year, so hopefully I'll be able to read it and completely the trilogy.

8. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2)Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4)

I read Cinder two years ago and I LOVED it (it also got me out of a terrible reading slump!) and I have Scarlet and Cress that I've been meaning to read. I CAN'T WAIT TO CONTINUE THIS SERIES.

9. The Shatter Me Trilogy by Tahereh Mafi
Unravel Me (Shatter Me, #2)Ignite Me (Shatter Me, #3)

I absolutely adored Shatter Me and I've been meaning to read the rest of the series but they don't have them at my library and they're very expensive in South Africa! I want the physical books because they're so pretty but I might have to just buy it on my Kindle!

10. The Lorien Legacies by Pittacus Lore
The Rise of Nine (Lorien Legacies, #3)The Fall of Five (Lorien Legacies, #4)The Revenge of Seven (Lorien Legacies, #5)

I read the first two and quite enjoyed them. I have gotten the last 3 to review and I really want to read them and complete the series soon!
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Wednesday, 14 January 2015

The Bookworm Problems Tag!

THIS TAG LOOKS SO FUN! Thank you so much to Jolien from The Fictional Reader and Cait from Paper Fury for tagging me!

1. You have 20,000 books on your TBR. How in the world do you decide what to read next?

THAT IS AN EXTREMELY HARD QUESTION which I don't exactly have an answer too. In fact, it varies. Generally upon finishing a book I write the review and then I think "Oh flying fish - what do I read now?" and then I look around and Google and flail and tweet about not knowing what to read and then I eventually think about what reading mood I'm in and pick up a book. Very efficient, as you can see.

2. You’re halfway through a book and you’re just not loving it. Do you quit or commit?

I'd commit, especially if it's by an author I've loved before, or a lot of my book blogging friends have recommended to me. But if I'm really not enjoying it after 100 pages I'll DNF. But I generally always stick with it.

3. The end of the year is coming and you’re so close, but so far away on your Goodreads reading challenge. Do you try to catch up and how?
I'd probably read a lot of graphic novels and middle-grade novels as I fly through those fairly quickly!

4. The covers of a series you love do. not. match. How do you cope?
I'm not too particular about this, it frustrates me but I'm not willing to spend more money just so that all the books match. Maybe one day when I get a job I'll be able to match my series!

5. Everyone and their mother love a book you really don’t like. Who do you bond with over shared feelings?
TWITTER. I tweet about it, but then I generally get people saying how much they loved it so then I head over to Goodreads and read the negative reviews and then I don't feel so alone. Reading the reviews generally contains me yelling at my laptop saying "YES!" and "THANK GOODNESS IT'S NOT JUST ME" and "Uh huh, totally agree". But yup, Goodreads and Twitter.

6. You’re reading a book and you are about to start crying in public. How do you deal?
FUNNY STORY. There was this one time, I was in the dentist waiting room with my dad because my mom was getting her teeth checked and I was reading The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness and I got to the part with Manchee and I started sobbing. You know the kind where you can't breathe and you're hiccuping? And THERE WERE PEOPLE. It was extremely embarrassing. So (lesson learned) basically, if I see a sad part coming up I'll hold off reading the book till later when I'm at home and I can cry over fictional characters without accusatory stares.

7. A sequel of a book you loved just came out, but you’ve forgotten a lot from the prior novel. Will you re-read the book? Skip the sequel? Try to find a synopsis on Goodreads? Cry in frustration?!
Probably cry and groan and curse my goldfish memory, but then I'd Google the synopsis on Wikipedia or something. If I really enjoyed the book then I might reread it but I'd probably Google it!

8. You do not want anyone. ANYONE. Borrowing your books. How do you politely tell people nope when they ask?
No. Hahaha I'm joking, I'd just avoid the question or say I've had bad experience loaning books so I don't do it anymore. That bad experience being when my friend's dog literally ate my book. I WAS SO UPSET I WANTED TO CRYYYY.

9. Reading ADD. You’ve picked up and put down 5 books in the last month. How do you get over your reading slump?
I'm not one of those people who picks up books and then puts them down, I either get to 100 pages and DNF or I push through it. If I'm in a really bad slump, I either take a break from reading for a few days (generally only 1 or 2 and then I miss reading so much) or I reread a favorite!

10. There are so many new books coming out that you’re dying to read! How many do you actually buy?
Seeing as books are really expensive in South Africa, I'll only buy the new books when I find them in second hand bookstores and then they're not really very new anymore. I get quite a few new releases to review though, so that's okay. If I REALLY want a book *cough* City of Heavenly Fire *cough* I'll buy a book fairly shortly after it's released!

11. After you’ve bought the new books you can’t wait to get to, how long they sit on your shelf before you get to them?
Well, this is awkward. They generally stay quite long on my TBR pile. I, um, I still have books from when I was 9. So, 7 years ago. This is really awkward. *skulks off to hide behind towering TBR pile*

Those were my answers to the Bookworm Problems tag! Once again, thank you Jolien and Cait for tagging me!

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Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Review - House of Robots - James Patterson

House of Robots: (House of Robots 1)Title: House of Robots
Series: House of Robots #1
Author: James Patterson
Genre: Middle-Grade
Publication: November 24th 2014, Little Brown and Company
Pages: 317 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you to RandomStruik for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 4/5 Cupcakes!
In this new illustrated middle-grhim himade series from James Patterson, an extraordinary robot signs up for an ordinary fifth grade class... and elementary school will never be the same!
It was never easy for Sammy Hayes-Rodriguez to fit in, so he's dreading the day when his genius mom insists he bring her newest invention to school: a walking, talking robot he calls E--for "Error". Sammy's no stranger to robots--his house is full of a colorful cast of them. But this one not only thinks it's Sammy's brother... it's actually even nerdier than Sammy. Will E be Sammy's one-way ticket to Loserville? Or will he prove to the world that it's cool to be square? It's a roller-coaster ride for Sammy to discover the amazing secret E holds that could change family forever... if all goes well on the trial run!  

I will admit, I was quite dubious when this arrived. I'd read James Patterson's "I Funny" books that were also illustrated middle-grades and they were at times slightly cheesy and not as enjoyable as I'd hoped they would be. So, naturally, I was weary. After examining the wonderful cover, I then read the blurb and I was quite intrigued. I then started reading and I was immediately swept away by this adorable, quirky story of belonging, acceptance, family and friends. I highly enjoyed this story and I think middle-graders, teenagers and adults alike will find pleasure within the pages of this novel.

House of Robots is centered around 5th grader, Sammy Hayes-Roriguez - otherwise known as Sammy, who lives in a house run mainly by robots. His mom is a PhD scientist and inventor who builds robots and has them do various jobs around the house. One day she tells Sammy that she'll be sending her latest invention to school with him as an experiment for a top secret project. Sammy is not happy about that. He and his second-best-friend (his first being his little sister Maddie) Trip are already social outcasts at school, Sammy can just imagine the flack he would get for taking an extremely life-like robot school - especially one that claims to be his brother! However, Sammy soon learns that having E (a highly-advanced Robot) around might not be such bad idea after all as E teaches him how to stand up for himself, how to always be kind as well as how to make friends. However, someone else has taken special interest in E and he is in danger of someone wanting to destroy him.

Like I said, I highly enjoyed this book! I liked the characters, I liked the premise, I likde the characters' mental growth and I liked the humor and I especially appreciated the family dynamics. I also think this book is highly relatable to middle-graders as the book deals with school bullies, struggling to fit in, trying to make friends as well as falling out with best friends. James Patterson writes middle-graders in a highly authentic manner and I can remember having thoughts similar to Sammy's when I was 8/9/10 years old.

Like I said, I really liked the characters and they were very relatable. I loved the main character, Sammy and how protective he was of his sister and how he adored his family. As I'm really close to my family, I appreciate it when strong family dynamics feature. Sammy's character really grew throughout the book and I loved that. He learns to stand up for himself (I love how he stood up for his sister when the bully taunted him. He'd take it if Cooper said things to him but once the bully crossed the line to say something about his sister, Sammy stood up to him and that was honestly so heart-warming to read about). He learns more about kindness and friendship, yet he still has trouble with some things such as jealousy and wanting to be "popular" but he has a really good heart and I think that a lot of kids will look up to him and will be able to learn from him. He's a real character that experiences real feelings and real problems that many children will feel and I think they will like to be able to relate to that. So Kudos to James Patterson for creating such an authentic character!

I also really liked E, also known as Egghead, the incredibly life-like robot that Sammy's mom created. He was kind, compassionate (she built him to have feelings), funny and extremely clever. It was an interesting process watching E interact with humans and try to speak like them and be like them. There were quite a few moments that had me chuckling and quite a few moments that made my heart squeeze with love for the robot, as he's an extremely admirable character and also one who people can learn a lot from.

I loved Sammy's parents. His little sister Maddie was also adorable. She suffers from SCID, an autoimmune disease that makes little infections highly dangerous to her, so she has to live in a sterile environment and that's actually why her mom made the robots - so that the house was completely clean all the time. I admired Maddie's positivity and bravery despite her not being able to go to school or outside like other kids her age. I loved how everyone in their family tried to help her and how they always had her best interests at heart. Like I said, the family dynamics were strong and I loved that.

I love the premise of this story. I find robots to be quite a fascinating thing and I can just imagine how fun it would be to have robots living in your house and how interesting it would be! There was a mystery element at one point with the black SUV and the disappearance of a certain character and I was hoping that it would be a twist, but I was quite disappointed that *spoiler*it was just the school bully who controlled the disappearance of E and not the black SUV, as that's what I was expecting*spoiler* - but that's really the only thing I didn't love about this book.

I really enjoyed House of Robots and I'd highly recommend it to children age 7 and up. The illustrations are gorgeous and they make the story even more interesting to read. The characters are delightful and the situations they get caught up in are quite hilarious at times. I appreciated the strong friendship and family dynamics and how the characters tried to be good people. This book was a pleasure to read and I highly look forward to the next book in the series.

I give it: 4/5 Cupcakes!

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Top Ten Tuesday #25 - Top Ten 2014 Releases I Meant to Read but Didn't Get to

My first TTT post for the new year! Yay! How has your new year been so far? 

There were (sadly) a lot of 2014 books that I didn't get to but I'm hoping that I'll be able to read them this year! 

Top Ten 2014 Releases I Meant to Read but Didn't Get to:
Since You've Been GoneTo All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1)Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss, #3)Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments, #6)Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #3)The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1)Cruel Beauty (Cruel Beauty Universe, #1)The Iron Trial (Magisterium, #1)The Bane Chronicles (The Bane Chronicles)

1) Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson. I've heard ENDLESS good things about this book and I adore contemporary novels so I really want to try to buy this and read it sometime soon!

2) To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han. I LOVED Jenny Han's summer trilogy and I've heard great things about this so I'm looking forward to reading it!

3) Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins. I bought this with a gift card and I still haven't read it yet. I loved Anna and Lola and I tried reading this but I wasn't in the mood - I'll have to pick it up again shortly!

4) Cress by Marissa Meyer. I was lucky enough to get this to review and I'm hoping to read it in the next few months, as well as Scarlet!

5) City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare. My parents bought me this last year and I was planning on reading it this holiday as I don't really have time to read thick books when it's school time but then I started marathoning Skulduggery Pleasant. I shall be reading this very soon though!

6) Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor. I LOVED Daughter of Smoke and Bone and I'm currently reading Days of Blood and Starlight which I couldn't really get into but which now I'm immensely enjoying. I hope to find this at my library shortly so that I can read it whilst details from the second book are still fresh in my mind. 

7) The Winner's Curse - Marie Rutkoski. I want to read this book so bad but I can't find a copy at my bookstores. -.-

8) Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge. This is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, I believe? I love retellings and this looks SO GOOD, so I'm really looking forward to reading it once I get my hands on a copy.

9) The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. I got this to review and I'm really looking forward to reading it as it sounds really good and a fantasy that I'd really enjoy!

10) The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson. I LOVE Magnus and after reading Cait's fabulous review I definitely want to try to buy and read this soon!

Those are the top ten books I didn't get to read in 2014 (but which I really wanted to)!

What are yours? 

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