Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Top Ten Tuesday #29: Top Ten Favorite Heroines from Books


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

I just realised I haven't posted in a week. Curse you, studying! Anyway, I'm so excited for this week's topic! I have so many favorite heroines that inspire me and make me laugh and make me want to be a better person, so I'll try to narrow it down to only 10, but that shall be quite a difficult task for me. THEY'RE JUST ALL SO AMAZING!

1. Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series
Hermione is one of my top favorite heroines. I haven't read the last 3 Harry Potter books yet (I really don't want the series to be over) but in the four I have read, Hermione is such a kind, caring, brave and hard-working person and I really admire her for that. Whenever I'm studying and I get really bored or frustrated with it, I say "No. Hermione would study until she could completely ace that test." - she really inspires me to try to get the best grades possible and to be a wonderful friend.

2. Annabeth Chase from the Percy Jackson series
I absolutely adore Annabeth! I think her and Hermione would probably tie number 1 for being my favorite heroine. I see myself a lot in Annabeth. We both like knowing how everything works, we get quite frustrated if we can't find the answer to something and we will search through hundreds of books (or Google pages) until we find the answer we're looking for. She is also extremely brave and very loyal to the people who she loves. She's such an amazing character!

3. Valkyrie Cain from the Skulduggery Pleasant series
Witty, sarcastic and so incredibly brave. I absolutely adore her! She's gone through some insanely difficult things and later on in the series, she's very careful about making decisions and she makes sure that her decisions won't negatively impact her family and the rest of the world. She's also willing to sacrifice everything to save the world, which is very admirable of her.

4. Tris Prior from Divergent
Tris is so incredibly brave and it's what I admire most about her. She'll face her fears over and over and never back down. Whenever I'm in a situation that scares me (e.g. the orthodontist), I'll think to myself "What would Tris do?" and then I try to be brave like Tris and it helps. It really, really helps.

5. Hazel Grace Lancaster from The Fault in Our Stars
I really admire Hazel. She has cancer, one of the most devastating illnesses, and yet she keeps her sense of humor and she remains brave and realistic. She doesn't think negatively and she doesn't think positively, she accept the facts of horrible things and she deals with it in the best way she can. She's so amazing and I hope that one day I can be as brave as her.

6. Harriet Manners from the Geek Girl series
I absolutely adore Harriet! I can totally relate to her, not in the whole international model sense, but in the wanting to be physicist sense and being a labelled a geek by those around me. Harriet embraces her geekiness, she wears it like a badge and I love how she does that. A lot of books I read, the characters are ashamed of reading and knowing things, but Harriet isn't. I'm one of those people who tells people that I love reading, and I tell them that physics and chemistry fascinates me and yes, I do actually like maths. Most of the time, other times it makes me want to throw the textbook out the window. I love how she embraces being a geek and it makes me want to continue doing the same.

7. Mia Hall from If I Stay
*Spoilers for people who haven't read/watched If I Stay*
...

Mia is so courageous, in my opinion. Her entire family was killed in a car crash and yet she chooses to continue living her life. She goes to Juliard, she continues playing cello, she continues living. You know how much courage it must take, to continue living your life when your entire family has been killed? I think she's absolutely amazing for doing that, for enduring that pain every single day but she still goes on to achieve her goals and to make the best out of her life.

8. Tessa Gray from The Infernal Devices trilogy
I LOVE TESSA. She's so kind and sweet and bookish! I'd absolutely love to hang out with Tessa because we could talk about books and poetry all day. Will Herondale would also be there and that would literally be the best thing ever.

9. Liv from Dandelion Clocks
Liv experienced such a traumatic death in her life and I can only imagine how extremely painful it must be to lose that person, yet she deals with it beautifully. She cries and she grieves and you can see it's tearing her to pieces but she tries to continue to live her life and to make that person proud.

10. Cassie Sullivan from The 5th Wave
I love Cassie! She's incredibly sarcastic and she won't take nonsense from anyone and  I love that about her. She will do anything to protect her brother and she will do anything to survive in the messed up world that she lives in. She won't go down without a fight and she'll stand up for who she loves and what she believes in and I think that's fantastic!

These are my top ten heroines! Who are yours?

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Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Top Ten Tuesday #28 - Top Ten Bookish Problems I Have


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

Now, being a reader is wonderful, glorious thing and we bookish people often have a happy, peaceful time being a book-lover but then we come across certain things and we realise that sometimes we do encounter some bothersome problems.

1. No space.
I'm not joking when I say the whole of one corner of my smallish bedroom is filled with books. Books that are stacked extremely high. Books where there are too many to sit on a shelf but have to be piled on the floor (neatly, of course). I've, sadly, cut down on my book-buying but I don't know where I'll be putting any future books I get.

2. Having to be incredibly careful when browsing social media, in case one happens upon spoilers.
I'm pretty sure we've all been there at some stage in our life. We're innocently reading some reviews, innocently looking at GIFs, innocently scrolling through Instagram, innocently reading a tweet and then BAM! 


You've seen a spoiler.


And you try to unsee it.


But it annoyingly stays in your head and even when you shut your eyes, you can still see the dreadful image or text before you.


It's a hard life, I tell ya. 

3. Being emotionally destroyed when you finish a particularly good book or worse, a particularly good series.
There have been more times than I could possibly count, where I've finished a book, inhaled deeply, crawled into a fetal position and cried for several hours. One then trudges downstairs in a melancholy manner and is greeted by concerned looks from family members. The former then ambles to the kitchen, needing ice cream, chocolate, something that might alleviate the pain. The latter asks "What's the matter?" and then they wish they hadn't asked because you will turn to them, spoon in one hand, ice cream tub in the other and you will tell them what exactly is the matter. Someone betrayed your favorite character, said character died, your favorite ship sunk, your OTP is a mess. And first they will be confused, then they'll realise you're talking about a book and will try to console you with the dreaded saying that "It's just a book" and you will glare and retreat back to your sanctuary and mutter that the Muggles don't understand.


4. Accepting the fact that you'll be forever alone, as no one could possibly compare to your book-boyfriend(s).
It's a fact universally acknowledged (ha. Literary reference.) that 99.9% of the time, real boys won't even come near to the likes of Will Herondale, Augustus Waters, Percy Jackson and all the rest that we've fallen in love with. They don't read, they don't profess over-the-top declarations of love in a manner that isn't cheesy, they aren't as sweet, sensitive or funny. Upon meeting a real boy and engaging in conversation we will generally accept that yes, the rest of our romantic lives shall be spent with fictional characters.


5. People asking you if they can loan books from your impressive home library.
I get this question a lot and instead of saying "I'm really sorry but I don't loan books unless it's too close friends and sometimes I don't even loan books to them as, ya know, people aren't careful." I say "Well...um..." and they look at you like:

And then you start feeling really bad and instead of insisting you say, "Maybe!" and then avoid conversation with them for a few months until they forget. Or maybe that's just me, I don't know.


6. Wanting matching books on my shelf.
UGH. This is so frustrating. All the books in your favorite series are sitting nicely and evenly on your bookshelf and then the final book comes out and...it's big. It's huge. IT'S NOT THE SAME SIZE. And you just sit there and stare and inwardly have a mental breakdown.



7. Never, ever knowing what book to read next.
I swear, this is always one of the hardest decisions in my life. I have a TBR pile of like...I don't know how many books, but it's embarrassingly big. After finishing my current book, I'll hug said book (or throw it down in frustration, depends on the book) and then the realisation will dawn on me that I need to choose my next read and I'll inwardly wince because it's a loonnggggg and arduous process of deciding what to read next. I'll start looking at release dates (if I need to read an arc next) or look at weather currently (I'm one of those readers that likes reading contemporary books on summery days, fantasy on rainy days etc, it sets the mood) or see which library books have to be in first, but it generally takes me awhile to choose.

8. Having to decide between books at a bookstore or a library.
I had to choose between books last week. It was a painful, painful moment. I always feel like I'm betraying the poor things and I just want to take them all home with me and snuggle them in blankets and love them. Kind of like with puppies.

9. Often getting distracted because I'm thinking about the current book I'm reading, such as the ship I'm furiously shipping and the wondering of what will happen next in the story.
Today I was doing physics and started thinking about Skulduggery and Valkyrie's friendship and how adorable it is and then I looked a the time and I like "Yep. I'm in deep."

10. Seeing anything or hearing anything and immediately associating it with your fandom.
Like hearing a certain song and thinking how perfectly it describes a certain ship's situation or seeing chocolate cake and realising how Four would totally accompany you in drooling over the edible delicacy. It's at these times you wonder if you're actually sane and you realise you are and that associating everything with your fandoms is one of the wonderful side effects of being a reader.
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Saturday, 14 February 2015

Stacking the Shelves #76 - The week I kind of, somehow, accidentally, ended up with a lot of books. Oops.

Stacking the Shelves

Hi guys! Happy Valentines Day! How has the day gone so far for you? I've celebrated by eating chocolate, treating myself to some books and spending quality time with my boyfriend, who happens to be fictional. It's been a good day!

It was my birthday on Wednesday so I got books, which is awesome. I also got quite a lot of books to review (some came on my birthday!!) and  I decided to buy me two books with my birthday money as I haven't bought a book in months!

Books Gifted to Me:

I finally got Fractured, so my Shattered trilogy is finally complete and I can now marathon them! The Ever After sounds like it's going to be a really interesting read and I think I'm going to really enjoy it. I GOT BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS, SQUEEEEE! I LOVED Beautiful Creatures, so I'm really looking forward to reading the sequel. I also got A Monster Calls, which I'm really looking forward to reading! I loved Patrick Ness' other books, so I hope I enjoy this one too!

Books Received to Review:

I was SO excited when I got Seeker in the mail, despite the negative reviews, I really hope I'll enjoy it, as I love the concept. Marly's Ghost also sounds really good, too! I haven't read the first book of River Daughter, so I'll have to try to get that soon. I hadn't really heard of Winter before and it's the 4th book in a high fantasy series, so I'll have to see if they have that in at my library! I've tried reading Paul Stewart's books before but didn't really enjoy them, so it'll be interesting to see if I enjoy The Nameless One! I'm looking forward to reading Banished and Vowed, too.

Books I Bought:
Young, Gifted and Dead (St Jude's Academy, #1)Killing You Softly (St Jude's Academy, #2)


I saw these at my second-hand book shop and I was immediately intrigued! I don't often read thrillers but these sound really good - and I love the covers' colour schemes!

All Together:

Have you read any of these?


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Friday, 13 February 2015

Discussion Post: 5 Things You Should Never Say to a Book-Lover

It's happened to all of us. We say we love reading and they're like:


And you repeat yourself and then they just look at you, preceded by comments that will irk us readers because non-readers JUST DON'T GET IT.

1. Books are boring.


HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. No. They are the furthest thing from boring. Have you read The Hunger Games? Divergent? Boy Nobody? Percy Jackson? Life As We Knew It? Harry Potter? (Nah, you've probably watched the movies for some of these instead.) IF YOU DID YOU WOULDN'T SPOUT SUCH LIEEEESSSSS. There's plot twists and romance and funny banter and more plot twists and it's NOT BORING. You're boring. Ha. 

I clearly need to work on better insults.

2. Why do you care so much? It's just fiction.


Just fiction? Just fiction? It might be fictional, but it's certainly not just fiction. It feels real. When you read, you feel like you're that character's best friend. You learn things about them that not even they know. You can relate to them, even if you can't, you can imagine what it would be like to be in their shoes. You understand the world better. I know it sounds impossible, but if you read you would understand that the characters and the stories are anything but fictional.

3. Me: Have you read the book?
Muggle: Nah, I'm going to see the movie instead. Why bother reading the book?

Firstly, I'm not really a fan of movies or TV in general. I watched a heck of a lot of TV when I was younger but then I discovered books. Secondly, DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH DETAIL YOU'RE MISSING OUT ON?!  A lot. A lot lot. Take The Fault in Our Stars, for an instance. It was a brilliantly done movie but there were things that were missing, you didn't always know exactly what the characters were feeling at that particular moment and they didn't capture perfectly (although they did do an excellent job) the true friendship and love between all the characters. And with movies, you can't see all that. The directors can't incorporate what thoughts are bouncing through the characters' heads into the movie, it would be incredibly jumbled and hard to follow if they did. Thirdly, I like being able to picture things by myself and not with the help of Hollywood.

4. Instead of reading about fictional things, why don't you live more in the real world? Instead of reading about things, why don't you actually do them? 

BECAUSE THE REAL WORLD IS SCARY. There's murderers and thieves and wars and illnesses and bullies and OKAY fine, there's that in books too but you know that it might be resolved by the end of the book and that you might get a happy ending. You know that in a book these problems can't hurt you (well, emotionally they can, hello feels) or anybody else (unless they also get too emotionally attached to books like we do) but in reality, these things are real and occurring and can hurt us, our loved ones and everyone else on this planet. 

Although I haven't had someone ask me that second question in those words, someone has once said to me I should go do more things and "experience" more things like other teenagers. Most teenagers I know go to parties, drink and sleep around so uh, no thanks. But I do experience stuff. I'm hoping to start up piano lessons and I suddenly really want to go for drumming lessons and perhaps archery too (I could be Katniss! Minus the whole killing thing, of course. BE KIND.) and I do experience things but there's a lot of things that one can't experience in real life, but they can when reading. Can you ride upon a unicorn's back in real life? Or fight sea monsters? Or have Greek gods as parents? Can you travel to Middle Earth? Can you be an international popstar? (Well, you might be able to, but the chances are quite unlikely. And you know, for me there's that case of being socially awkward, having stage fright and not exactly being able to sing.) 

Just let me be, let me live in my fantasy world.

5. Reading is stupid.

No, you're stupid. Okay, I never say that, I'm too nice but really, it's not stupid at ALL. You learn things. You make fictional friends. You get inside someone's head (basically) and you see the world from a whole new perspective. You might think I'm wasting my time reading about something that isn't real, but I'd much rather do that than live in an ordinary world without the written word. Reading is utterly magical and I feel sincerely sorry for people who don't read.

These are the top 5 things you should never say to a book lover! Has anyone ever said these to you?
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Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Personal Post: IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!


IT'S MY BIRTHDAY! Today I turn 16, which is pretty cool but kind of weird too, it feels like I'd just turned thirteen yesterday haha! I thought it would be nice to show you guys what I did today and what books I got, because it's quite nice (in my opinion) to see personal posts on book blogs as well! Also, thank you to everybody who wished me today - it made me feel so special! <3

So, I woke up at 6:30 because I was really, really, really excited. I spent the morning with my parents and I had a nice breakfast, then we got in the car and I went to a lovely bookshop and bought books (naturally. I'm sixteen, time to buy loads of books! Live on the wild side!) and then we went into the city as my mom had an appointment to do with her illness (myalgic encephalomyelitis) which was about an hour. I spent that hour reading Skulduggery Pleasant book 8 (THE SERIES IS NEARLY OVER. THIS IS NOT OKAY!) and then we went to get Romans Pizza which is literally the best pizza ever. When I used to live in another part of South Africa when I was still small, my family would get it once or twice a month and I absolutely LOVED it. The part of South Africa I live in now doesn't have one close by (you have to drive like 40 minutes get there) so I only get it on my birthday but ahhh, it was SO good!

Then I came home and a couple of my friends came over and we had chocolate cake and hot chocolate and we danced to Taylor Swift's 1989 and that was a lot of fun! And now here I am, writing up this post and feeling tired and happy as I've had a lovely bookish, chocolate-y day!

So, here is what I got. I love my presents so much and I'm so excited to use my new stationery and read my new books! I'm planning on going back to the book shop this weekend as I got some money and my mom wanted to buy me these other two books, so I'm really looking forward to that!

Also, when I got home I saw that the postman had delivered a package from Penguin Random House - so I got some books to review on my birthday too, which I think is pretty cool! I actually said to my mom that I really hope I do because since I started my blog I've received books each year on my birthday! So it was really great getting them! I also got a book yesterday and two books last week, which I've included, as this can be like an early Stacking the Shelves post haha!

Books I've Received the Past Two Weeks (including today's birthday haul):

The top 4 books I got for my birthday and the rest I got to review! I honestly can't wait to read all of these! I've been meaning to buy A Monster Calls for awhile and when I saw it at the bookshop, I read the first eight pages or so and was immensely intrigued so I decided it was high time I read it. I'm so excited to read Beautiful Darkness as I loved Beautiful Creatures! I really needed Fractured as I have the other two books in the trilogy, so shortly I shall be marathoning them. I saw The Ever After randomly but decided it looked really good and I got it and then I found out it was actually on my wishlist but under a different title! I'm REALLY looking forward to reading Marly's Ghost and Seeker - they sound so good! I also got Vowed, which I'll be reading as soon as I read Banished. The Nameless One, River Daughter and Winter are books that I haven't heard of before but sound quite interesting - I hope I'll enjoy them!

Stationery:
LOOK HOW BEAUTIFUL IT IS! My pens and pencil case are physics/space related which is just SO COOL! I'm also obsessed with Paris stationery, so it was lovely to get that too!

So yep, I had an absolutely wonderful birthday! Have you guys read any of the books I received today?


Thank you, Robert, it was.
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Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Top Ten Tuesday 27: Top Ten Things I Like when it Comes to Romances in Books


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

OOH YAY, we can talk about allllll the things that makes me an aggressive shipper! Here are the top ten things I love when it comes to romances in books!


1. Banter.
Specifically snarky banter. Glorious snarky banter. When characters can insult each other without the other getting offended and tease and throw quips at each other, I will ship them. Ship them very hard.

2. Slow-burning romance
I like it when two characters fall in love over a long period of time. Where they don't realise it until much later but then they get together and they are absolutely perfect for it each other. It makes my heart happy.

3. I-kind-of-hate-you-but-I-kind-of-want-to-make-out-with-you
I LOVE these. You know, the ones where the characters hate each other at first but then they slowly realise that they actually love the buffoon and they fall in love while still being incredibly snarky with each other? Yes, those. 

4. Childhood friends that aren't really just friends anymore
Ooh, I LOVE these too! The romances where they were just friends growing up but then they see the other one starts maturing or starts dating and they're like "OH MY GOSH, SHE'S ACTUALLY A GIRL! I never knew." *cough* Ron and Hermione *cough*

5. Skinny love
Where they both really like each other but they completely deny it and you just ship it even more aggressively and then they finally get together and you literally feel so happy. *cough* Percabeth *cough*

6. Love triangles if done right
I hate love triangles if it's a girl constantly going on and on and on about the two guys she's torn between and HOW ON EARTH WILL SHE CHOOSE?! But, if it's done correctly (The Sky is Everywhere, The Summer I Turned Pretty, The Infernal Devices etc) then I like it. If it tears my heart in two and stomps on it and causes me to lose my voice from screaming at the main character and makes me not know which guy I like, then I don't mind it at all.

7. Two characters falling in love under unusual circumstances
Like Hazel and Augustus. They were both diagnosed with cancer and they both met at their cancer support group, and the illness that was killing them was the thing that brought them together. I love it when romances have that as well, two characters that find each other when they thought their life would remain in trauma and suffering.

8. A romance formed over books or music
LIKE TESSA AND WILL FROM THE INFERNAL DEVICES! Okay, their romance didn't technically form during bonding over books, but I'm pretty sure that's when they started falling for each other, ya know, when they were in the library recommending books to each other and stuff. Ahh, be still my shipping heart.

9. Sweet, innocent romances
This recently occurred in a middle-grade I just read. I love it when romances are really sweet and innocent: giving each other chocolates and flowers and kisses on cheeks. Basically, the ones that start out like that and stay like that for a long time before they get more "steamy".

10. Romances where the couple help each other through extremely hard times and always have the other one's back
Like Clary being there for Jace when he wasn't exactly himself (book 4 and 5, you guys know what I'm talking about) and always trying to help him even though she knew how dangerous it could be. She annoyed me a lot throughout the series but I did highly admire how much she was willing to sacrifice in order to save Jace.


These are my top ten things I love when it come to romance in books! What are yours?
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Sunday, 8 February 2015

Review - Colonial Madness - Jo Whittemore

Colonial MadnessTitle: Colonial Madness
Series: N/A 
Author: Jo Whittemore
Genre: Middle-Grade, Contemporary
Publication: February 10th 2015, Aladdin
Pages: 240 Pages, Kindle
Source: Thank you to Edelweiss for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 4.5/5 Cupcakes!
A mother-daughter duo take part in a bizarre family challenge in hopes of winning a fortune in this hilarious novel that Gilmore Girls meets The Westing Game!
Tori Porter is best friends with her mom, and most of the time it's awesome. Not many girls have a mom who takes them to a graveyard for hide-and-seek or fill the bathtub with ice cream for the world's biggest sundae. But as much as Tori loves having fun, she sometimes wishes her mom would act a little more her age. Like now.
Thanks to her mom's poor financial planning, they are in danger of losing their business and their home. But an unusual opportunity arises in the form of a bizarre type of contest put on by an eccentric relative: Whoever can survive two weeks in the Archibald Family's colonial manor will inherit the property. The catch? Contestants have to live as in colonial times: no modern conveniences, no outside help, and daily tests of their abilities to survive challenges of the time period.
Tori thinks it's the perfect answer to their debt problems, but she and her mom aren't the only ones interested. The other family members seem to be much more prepared for the two weeks on the manor and it doesn't help that Mom doesn't seem to be taking the contest seriously. Do they stand a chance?

*Quotes are taken from the ARC so they are subject to change*

When I saw this book available to download on Edelweiss, I jumped at the chance! I absolutely adore middle-grade novels of any kind, especially ones that have a unique plot line, family bonding and a fun competition of some kind! This book was the perfect contender and it lived up to and even surpassed my expectations. The characters felt real, the writing was addictive, the pacing was perfect and the snark, oh the snark! It was absolutely glorious.

Colonial Madness features Tori and her lovable - if irresponsible - mother who live in an apartment above the dress shop Tori's mom runs. However, they are in danger of losing their home and the business due to Tori's mom's lack of handling her finances - but then a wonderful opportunity comes up! In the late Muriel Archibald's will, she gives certain family members a bizarre, unique challenge where the winning member will gain possession  of the Archibald Family's colonial manor. The challenge? To live as if they were in colonial times for two weeks. That means no technology, no bought food and absolutely no modern conveniences. For Tori and her mom, this is the perfect chance to get money to pay the bills and save their property. However, will they be able to win against their competitive family members and will Tori's mom take this seriously enough in order for them to gain possession of the manor? I highly suggest that you pick up this book and find out!

I adored this book. Seriously, it was so much fun to read! The characters were perfect, the story line was perfect, the pacing and writing was perfect, basically everything was perfect.

The characters were fantastic. I absolutely adored Tori! She was nerdy, she was snarky, she was adventurous, she would do anything to help her mom, she was courageous and fair and I just utterly adored her as I could relate to her a lot. She's honestly a character I would love to hang out with as I think we would get along famously, bonding over books and research and exchanging witty banter back and forth. Seriously, you guys will love her!
'This was a serious, adult manner, I decided to handle it in a serious adult voice. Which, for some reason, also happened to be British.'
'"Well aren't you just a fountain of information," said Mom, changing into her own costume.
"It's called reading," I said. "You should try it."' - Tori gets us.
I also really liked Tori's mom. She was irresponsible and quite careless but she was fun and you could see she really loved her daughter and truly wanted the best for her! I felt sorry for her as you could see how disappointed she was when Tori thought that she wouldn't be able to complete the challenge, but I admired how that spurred her on to do her best in order to make her daughter happy.

Their mother-daughter relationship was truly a spectacular thing to read about. I loved how (most of the time) they supported each other and how they were both willing to do everything for the other. I loved their witty conversations and the shenanigans they would get up to! I also loved the tender way in which Jo Whittemore handled a mom and daughter's alternative viewpoints and their differences. It was a truly wonderful bond and I would suggest to a lot of moms with tween daughters that this would be a splendid book to read together, so that mothers and daughters alike can understand the other one better. I loved their relationship and the dynamic duo made me guffaw several times.
'"Who's Muriel Archibald?" I asked while Mom read the letter."Your dad's great-aunt who...apparently passed away last week," said Mom, wrinkling her forehead. "I'm surprised it took so long.""Wow," I said. "So, obviously, you were close?"Mom made a face. "Don't get smart."'
'"Tori!" she rushed over. "Is everything okay?"
I shook my head. "I...need..."
"What, darling?" Mom clasped my face between her hands. "Air? Water? For us to really exercise at the gym?"' - After Tori comes rushing in from outside. 
'I stomped toward my bedroom as loudly as possible. My phone chimed with a text message, and I stopped to check it. It was from Mom. You're going to make an excellent ballerina. So light on your feet!' 
From the video Muriel sent to them about her will before she died, I could tell she had a hilarious sense of humor and that she was even more sarcastic than Tori. I would've liked to see interaction between her and Tori as I think that would've been quite enjoyable! *Spoiler*When Muriel wasn't dead after all that was quite a surprise, but I LOVED that I got to know her better as from the beginning I knew that she was somebody I wanted to know more of - I'm so glad I got that opportunity. It would've been nice to see more interaction between Muriel and Tori as I think the banter would've been fantastic, but it didn't decrease my enjoyment of the story at all.*Spoiler*
'"Hello, nincompoops," said Great-Aunt Muriel in a deep, commanding voice. "If you're viewing this, then you've managed to outlive me. What a pity."'
"But Charity [Muriel's horse] cannot appreciate the grounds of my estate nor its proper manor in the proper manner." Great-Aunt Muriel frowned and spoke to someone off camera. "That sentence was appallingly cute."' 
Then there was Caleb, the son of Eli, the man hosting the challenges. I really liked Caleb! You could see that he was a kind, loyal boy and I loved how him and Tori could bond over being quite geeky as well as their difficult home situations. Their time spent making leather bracelets and earrings in the forge while getting to know each other was lovely to read about! The romance was innocent and sweet, perfect for a middle-grade. I like how the author captured the feelings of first love and I thought it was extremely realistic, especially when Tori started crushing from Caleb nearly as soon as she met him as that's generally what a lot of young teenage girls experience. It was an adorable romance!
They reference The Hunger Games:
'"Can I give you some advice?" he asked. "My dad has nothing against you personally, but I can tell he's really excited for this witch trial. The odds aren't in your favor." I frowned.
"How very Hunger Games." 
Which is pretty awesome.

The other cast of characters were diverse too! There were Angel and Dylan, Tori's two cousins. As well as their parents: Angel's hippy parents, Uncle Deke and Aunt Zoe, and Dylan's cowboy dad named Uncle Max. I found them all interesting and they all felt very real to me. I really liked Angel but I was quite disappointed in her at one stage in the book, but I could kind of understand why she did it and I still liked her all the same, although I had lost some respect for her. Each characters had their own personality and I could always distinguish between them.

The story line of this plot was fantastic! I loved the different challenges and I loved how they had to go without modern conveniences, although I  think it would've been more realistic if more emphasis was put on the struggles they faced without modern conveniences, but that wasn't even an issue and didn't make me enjoy the book any less!

Overall, Colonial Madness was a delightfully charming, unique read! I absolutely fell in love with the diverse cast of characters and once I'd closed the book, I felt as if I'd lost a friend! The humor was utterly perfect and I caught myself chuckling out loud on several occasions. The writing was fabulous, as well as the plot and I wasn't bored for a single moment - in fact, I read most of this book in one sitting! I would highly recommend this as it's a fantastically fun book to lose yourself in. I shall definitely be reading more from this author in the future!

I give it: 4.5/5 Cupcakes!

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Thursday, 5 February 2015

Review - You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes - Chris Hadfield

You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes: Photographs from the International Space StationTitle: You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes
Series: N/A
Author: Chris Hadfield
Genre: Non-Fiction
Publication: January 1st 2014, Pan Macmillan
Pages: 208 Pages, Hardcover
Source: Thank you to Pan Macmillan for sending me this delightful, picturesque treasure in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 5/5 Cupcakes!.
In You Are Here, bestselling author and celebrated astronaut Chris Hadfield creates a virtual orbit of Earth, giving us the really big picture: this is our home, from space. The millions of us who followed Hadfield's news-making Twitter feed from the ISS thought we knew what we were looking at when we first saw his photos. But we may have caught the beauty and missed the full meaning. Now, through photographs - many of which have never been shared - Hadfield unveils a fresh and insightful look at our planet. He sees astonishing detail and importance in these images, not just because he's spent months in space but because his in-depth knowledge of geology, geography and meteorology allows him to reveal the photos' mysteries.
Featuring Hadfield's favourite images, You Are Here is divided by continent and represents one (idealized) orbit of the ISS. 

When I received this book to review, my happiness levels soared to the tremendous heights of the exosphere. As many of you may know, I am a complete physics and chemistry geek and I want to study astrophysics one day. I am utterly fascinated by outer space. The galaxies, the stars, the planets, our solar system - how all of this combined creates the gorgeous world we live in and the magnificent world beyond our world. I am so utterly keen to accompany others in discovering the secrets of the universe beyond ours, one day. However, this delightful read made me realise all the millions of secrets that lie within the crevices on this planet, our planet, and how I would quite like to learn more about our own, before I try unlocking the secrets above.

What I loved about You Are Here, is that it made me appreciate this world. It made me appreciate the volcanoes and the glaciers, the rivers and the clouds that have been engraved within the earth's form. How these countless natural monuments have pushed and struggled through sediment, how deadly beautiful volcanoes are formed due to persistent magma that has clawed its way to the surface and erupted again and again to make stunning yet terrifying constructions. It made me realise, like Chris Hadfield had, that the universe seems to have a sense of humor. With some naturally formed wonders resembling a laughing face, a comical seal, an exclamation mark, or how certain rocks and mountain combined forms the shape of an eye. I got to see the evident division between Mexico and the USA, or how certain clouds, drifting a certain way, resemble sugar sprinkled on the top of a cupcake. It made me realise that heavenly perfection not only reigns in the starlit sky above, but within the very air we breathe and the on the very soil our feet walk upon. You Are Here was such an eye-opening read, to show the earth is such a wondrous architect of these carefully formed structures. The way the book is laid out is fantastic too, with words artistically arranged on the page and clipart scattered on various pages, it makes the book have a somewhat comfortable, welcoming feel to it.

I want to thank Chris Hadfield for taking such gorgeous pictures and for sharing the beauty of our earth from an otherworldly perspective. I will probably never be able to explore outer space and see our planet from such a different angle, so thank you Chris Hadfield for giving me, and millions of others, the impossible chance of seeing our planet earth in such an artistic, unique light. You Are Here is a book that everyone will find great delight in as it will have you marveling at how glorious our world truly is and it will make you so very thankful that we have a chance to set foot on this planet and live our lives in such a richly-colored, extravagant place.

I give it: 5/5 Cupcakes!

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Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Review - The Secrets Between You and Me - Shana Norris

The Secrets Between You and Me (Stolen Kisses #2)Title: The Secrets Between You and Me
Series: Stolen Kisses #2
Author: Shana Norris
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publication: February 10th 2015, The Studio
Pages: 247 Pages, Kindle Edition
Source: Thank you to Netgalley and The Studio
Rating: 2.5/5 Cupcakes!
All Hannah wanted was a summer break from being “perfect Hannah Cohen” and a chance to forget about the devastating family secret that could ruin her seemingly perfect life. So when she takes off for her eccentric aunt’s house in the mountains of North Carolina and everyone makes one big (wrong) assumption about her past, Hannah figures that it’s easier to live a lie than have to face the truth.
She never expected to make any real friends, like the hilarious and spontaneous Kate and Ashton, who drag her to late night bonfires and ice cream marathons. And she especially never counted on meeting Jude Westmore, the brooding bad boy next door with gray eyes and permanent oil smudges on his fingers, or that he would ever take an interest in her.
Between moonlit movie nights in the bed of Jude’s truck and nearly romantic Ferris Wheel rides, Hannah’s old life seems father away then ever, but can she keep her secret, or is the truth worth the risk of losing everything, including Jude?
*The quotes that have been used are from the ARC and are subject to change*

When I saw this on Netgalley I thought it sounded sweet and charming, a summer read that would whisk me away to the lands of never-ending sunshine, ice creams and the glowing possibility of summer romance, but, unfortunately this book didn't live up to my heightened expectations. I don't know why my expectations were even heightened because the reviews for this book weren't all too good and I've never read books by the author before, but hey, at least I'm embracing my inner optimist.

The Secrets Between You and Me is a story that has a plot similar to books I've read before and the author didn't really bring anything original to the story, although the blurb made it seem as if the story would have charming qualities.

We have Hannah Cohen, a rich girl with a seemingly perfect life who secretly has quite a few troubles. She then goes to live in a more rural area where she hopes to discover inner happiness. While she's there she attracts the attention of the town's "bad boy" - who isn't really a bad boy - and they fall in love but then said people do stupid things and there's a lot of teen angst. I was hoping the author would bring something original to the story but she didn't unfortunately, so this book was a kind of miss for me.

This book, to be honest, bored me. I was very bored and when I'm reading a book, I like to be on the edge of my seat, flying through the pages and not being able to think of anything but said book. But while reading TSBYaM, I would read about 4 pages and then I'd go on Youtube, or I'd read a couple of chapters and then go play with my dogs, there was nothing to sustain my interest. I was this close to DNFing, but I forced myself to push through in hopes that it would get better - which it didn't, not really. It's a fairly short book, less than 300 pages, and it took me 3 or 4 days to read it. I generally read 600+ books in that amount of time - it really felt like a chore to get through it.


The characters weren't all that likable. I'm not sure if it's because I was in a semi-reading slump or what but none of the characters felt authentic to me. By the time I'd finished the book, I didn't feel as if I knew them, but merely as if I'd just been told random things about them instead. However, this is the companion novel, so perhaps if I'd read the first book first then it would've been easier for me to understand the situation? I'm not sure. Hannah just wasn't a very likable character to me. She would act as if she was better than everyone but then she'd talk about what a mess she is, even though technically she wasn't the mess but her parents were her. I wanted to feel sorry for her but the author didn't write the book in a way that I could connect all that well to the characters and the story. Although there was said depth, I didn't feel it. I didn't feel Hannah's tough time or how she felt about her parents. It felt as if the author was merely telling and not showing. I also didn't really like her from the beginning because of this (after a guy stopped and helped her change her car's tire):

'"You don't owe me anything. Just doing my good deed for the day."
"You've got to want something."
"You've already said thank you, that's enough." He pulled the truck's driver side door open, which squeaked in protest.
"I'm not looking for a boyfriend,"I said.
He wrinkled his nose. "Neither am I."
My neck flushed hot. "I mean, I'm not going out with you for changing my tire. Just so you know."
"That's a little presumptuous," he said.'
Yes I agree, that is very presumptuous. Now, I understand it's because she was raised to believe that people always did something in exchange for something else, but still. It irked me. Another thing I didn't like about her was she lied. A lot. I felt really sorry for Jude as he'd experienced such tragedy and heartbreak in his life due to his brother dying, but then freaking Hannah makes out as if her father died when he was in actual fact alive.


I don't know why she did that, but it was wrong. I understand how painful it must have been for her to say that her father, the prestigious owner of America's top bank, was actually a *spoiler*prescribed pills addict*spoiler* but that's far better than leading people on to believe that her father was dead. I mean the way she phrased it made people think he was dead, and when they said something like "I'm so sorry for your loss" she could've said "No, he isn't dead but I'd rather not talk about it." and then change the subject. I also thought it was really bad of her saying something like that when she knew Jude had actually experienced the death of a close family member. You just don't do something like that.

I did like Jude, he was the one character that I (mainly) liked. He was funny:
"Do you love being difficult?" I asked.
"It's my specialty," he said with a grin.
and
'"Are there any other secrets I should know about you?"
Jude tilted his head to the side, thinking for a moment.
"I don't like carrots."
I elbowed him hard in the side.'
He was sweet, although he did use the "L" word too soon but still, he was sweet without being too cheesy and I appreciate that he respected her enough to not push her to do things she didn't want to do, and that he said to her that he'd rather be friends with her than a couple, instead of not being anything at all. Although there was this one time where they were trying to be just friends and he tried holding her hand and Hannah was like:



But otherwise, I really liked Jude's character and he seemed to become more confident and happier which was a pleasant change to see!

The other characters were fine, they weren't all that interesting and none of them stood out particularly. There were Kate and Ashton, the two girls her age who she befriended. And there was her Aunt Lydia, her mom and her dad. I didn't really like any of them that much and none of them seemed particularly real to me. Kate and Ashton were nice though and they were wonderful friends to Hannah and were very supportive, which was a great thing to see! Her Aunt was quite nice. Her mom was terrible: extremely conceited, narcissistic and obnoxious - well done to Hannah for trying to break away from that! And her dad was alright, despite the turmoil he'd put his family through. 

The plot was also average. It quite bored me at times as it often felt like nothing actually happened. Basic, average day stuff occurred (which is what happens in contemporaries) but the author didn't write it in a way that made me excited or that made me want to keep reading, which was a pity as it could've been a really cute, heart-warming novel!

My main problem with this book though is that I don't feel as if we got to see anything deeper than what was shown on the surface. I felt like I was a bird, desperately pecking at the icy ground but unable to get the worm. HA, that's quite a good analogy, right?

...

No? Okay, then. But that's what it feels like. It's like I can see there's more things beneath the surface that I really want to know and I want to understand, things just beyond my reach which would contribute to making the story seem real. I really wanted to connect with this book but I just couldn't. I didn't ever feel properly involved in the story, I felt like I was supposed to feel a certain way for the characters but I could never muster enough sympathy for them as they weren't particularly likable nor fleshed out.

Overall, The Secrets Between You and Me was a novel that fell short of my expectations. I loved the idea of it and it sounded like a contemporary that would bring me great pleasure but unfortunately it brought me boredom. The characters were one dimensional - although I did like Jude - and they did things that irked me. The pacing of the story was quite slow and I often found myself putting the book down and then dreading to pick it back up again. However, one positive element of the story is that the author had a smooth way of writing. She didn't prattle on and her sentences weren't halted. I will give this author another try as she does have potential and there were some quote-worthy sentences incorporated throughout The Secrets Between You and Me. Such as:

'It was what life did, it kept moving on even when you couldn't.'
'...there was beauty in imperfection. Art didn't have to be made from traditional methods, and life didn't have to follow traditional paths.' 

The Secrets Between You and Me had potential, but I felt as if there wasn't any true depth to the novel. I do quite like the author's writing style though, so I shall try her other books in the future!

I give it: 2.5/5 Cupcakes!
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Sunday, 1 February 2015

January Wrap-Up and February TBR Pile and January Challenges Wrap-Up!

It's February! My birthday month! As of today my birthday is in 10 days, save the date peoples. Kidding! Maybe. 


January was actually a pretty good reading month for me! I read 11 books which is a lot more than I thought I would read. I also (mostly) followed my TBR pile which practically never happens (I read 5/8 of the books!). 

The books I read this month are:
Mortal Coil (Skulduggery Pleasant, #5)Death Bringer (Skulduggery Pleasant, #6)Kingdom of the Wicked (Skulduggery Pleasant, #7)The Dagger in the Desk (Lockwood & Co., #1.5)Lies BeneathDays of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #2)Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1)Paper or PlasticWhere She WentThe Secrets Between You and Me (Stolen Kisses #2)One of the Guys

I read some pretty good books this month! I LOVED the three Skulduggery Pleasant books, I freaking LOVED Where She Went (it made me cry), I - eventually - really enjoyed Days of Blood and Starlight and I also LOVED One of the Guys! Paper or Plastic and The Dagger in the Desk was also enjoyable. I was extremely disappointed with Etiquette and Espionage, as well as with Lies Beneath and The Secrets Between You and Me. However, I read some pretty good things this month!

What I want to Read this Month:
The Boy Next DoorFairy Tale Reform School: FlunkedColonial Madness

The Boy Next Door is the monthly book club read and Flunked and Colonial Madness are arcs I still need to read for the next two months! 

Challenges Wrap-Up:

Netgalley/Edelweiss Reading Challenge:
1. One of the Guys
2. Paper or Plastic
3. The Dagger in the Desk
4. The Secrets Between You and Me

4/10

2015 TBR Pile Reading Challenge:
1. Lies Beneath
2. Days of Blood and Starlight
3. Etiquette and Espionage
4. Mortal Coil
5. Death Bringer
6. Kingdom of the Wicked
7. Where She Went

7/11-20

Doing well so far, I think! How are your challenges going and what books did you read this month?
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