Sunday, 31 January 2016

How Hard Can Love Be? By Holly Bourne is the perfect read for this Valentine's Day!

How Hard Can Love Be? (Normal, #2)Title: How Hard Can Love Be?
Series: Normal #2
Author: Holly Bourne
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 480 Pages, Paperback
Publication: February 1st 2016, Usborne Publishing
Source: Thank you to Usborne for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review! 
Rating: 4/5 Cupcakes!
All Amber wants is a little bit of love. Her mum has never been the caring type, even before she moved to Califorenia, got remarried and had a personality transplant. But Amber's hoping that spending the summer with her can change all that.
And then there's prom king Kyle, the guy all the girls want. Can he really be interested in anti-cheerleader Amber? Even with best friends Evie and Lottie's advice, there's no escaping the fact: love is hard. 

I read Holly Bourne's first book in this spectacular trilogy of friendship, feminism and the roller-coaster called life and I absolutely fell in love with it. So I immediately began my arc of How Hard Can Love Be?, the sequel that follows the life of one of Evie's best friends, Amber, that we were introduced to in the first book, as we watch her make her way to the States help her mom and step-dad's summer camp in hope that she will be able to reconnect with the mother she hasn't seen in two years. I really enjoyed this novel, but perhaps my expectations were too high as I didn't fall as in love with this as I did with Am I Normal Yet?.

How Hard Can Love Be? focuses on seventeen year old Amber who is climbing on a plane to jet over to America to spend the summer with her recovering alcoholic mother and her new stepfather who she has quite a disliking for. Amber is picturing a summer filled with reconciliation, reminiscing and, in her wildest dreams, her mom's return home. However, Amber isn't prepared for her mom's lack of presence and the gaping wound that she thought her mother would be able to fix, nor was she prepared for the friends she would make, the lessons she would learn and the boy she would fall in love with.

Can I just say, I loved the setting in this book. In fact, I feel like reading it all over again just so that I can visit the camp again. It was bonfires and kayaking and mountains and forests and I could just imagine myself right there and in a sense, I'm homesick for that place because it was just such - well, how I pictured it - a wonderful place to be and I really got swept up into the whole summer camp thing and I absolutely loved it! OOH, I also really, really want to go visit Yosemite National Park now!

I also really liked the fact that I got to learn more about Amber. I always thought she seemed like an interesting character and I love how we get to learn about each member of the Spinster Club with each novel. I really liked Amber, she was funny, snarky, intelligent and real. You could see how she would push people away because she was terrified of being hurt again, you could see how badly it made her ache to be rejected by her mother once again and my heart really felt for her. 

I LOVED the secondary characters in this novel! I absolutely adored the friendship Amber formed with Whinnie who was such a kind, empathetic character and I just loved her personality. I also really liked Kyle and Russ who were also incredibly kind and funny and I loved the group dynamics between the four. It was also interesting seeing the stark contrasts between the Americans and the British. In South Africa we are also more open about our feelings and I've noticed that a lot of people in England are more conservative about the sharing of their emotions so it was really interesting (and at times quite funny!) to see how Amber deals with this uncharted territory of expressing one's emotions verbally.

We also got to see snippets of Lottie and Evie which made my heart explode with joy. The conversations between the three girls never failed to make me laugh and I caught myself giggling out loud several times throughout! I also once again LOVED the feminist topics covered in the Spinster Club meetings and I learned so much about feminism, gender stereotypes and about how people sexualise women and how that's constantly pitting women against each other. These books really shed light on the inequality for both genders and they teach you so much about it as well. Every time I read one of Holly Bourne's books I'm desperate to run to my library and raid it of all books dealing with these certain topics.

The romance was also one of the prime features in this book and although I was completely sold on it at first, the more I read about it the more I found myself suppressing the urge to role my eyes. I really liked Kyle in the beginning. He's lovely and so gentlemanly however, towards the end section he started whining about how "unoriginal" and how "stereotyped" he is and at times his dialogue resembled the words that come out of a bored, grumbling ten year old and that made my love for him lessen slightly. He just seemed so obsessed with not being an American stereotypical golden boy that I just found it quite a silly thing for him to worry himself over. I did like Amber and Kyle together and I loved how their romance built up over time and wasn't insta-love. I loved how sweet Kyle was to Amber and that he would listen to her feminist rants, how he would respect her and appreciate her and that he actually cared about more than just the physical/sexual aspects of a relationship. I really hope things work out for them and that they can find a way to make it work long distance as I really think they're adorable together!

I also appreciated that this book dealt with difficult topics such as abandonment and addiction issues and showed the immense impact it can have on those close to the person battling with their demons. I thought Amber's relationship with her mother was written extremely well, from the hurt and the feeling of betrayal and the confusion to the love and the nostalgia of better times. I also liked how, despite this book dealing with a sensitive topic, the book never felt too dark and dismal. It had an upbeat tune echoing through the pages which diverted the dark cloud that could have potentially ended up hovering over the book. 

Overall, I really enjoyed How Hard Can Love Be?, it tackled realistic, heart-breaking issues in a sensitive manner. It was filled with hope, adventure and emphasized the importance of taking chances in order to grow, creating a life that you love and being true to yourself. With a fantastically fun setting in an American summer camp, new friends, new adventures and second chances mixed with dashes of romance and the opportunity to be enlightened on feminism and equality, How Can Love Be? by Holly Bourne is the perfect book to be swept away with this Valentine's day!

I give it: 4/5 cupcakes!
- Alcoholism

- Under age drinking
- Profanity used a few times

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January Wrap-Up and February TBR Pile!


The first month of 2016 is nearly finished! It's odd as I often feel as if the months slip by too quickly, but January has felt quite drawn out to me. Perhaps it's because I can't wait for February as it's my birthday month and I'm happy because it's the last month of winter. I love spring and summer so I'm really looking forward to that! I'm also kind of freaking out though as I have my maths and chemistry exams in April and although that seems quite a way away, it isn't, not really.

January had some good things! Fond times of watching Star Wars with my family and watching old movies with close friends, reading in front of the fire with my snoozing furry family members by my side and ballet lessons with pirouettes and pink ballet slippers will glow happily in my memory for quite some time. However, my anxiety began to put a damper on things two weeks into the new year. I haven't had panic attacks frequently in a couple of years and the last few days I've found it exceedingly difficult to get my anxiety under control. I hope that things will improve in February!

I have read some phenomenal books in 2016, books that have made me laugh and cry and flail and screech - let's hope this continues into February!

The Books I Read:
Talon by Julie KagawaThe Murder of an Angel (Confessions, #4)The Last Summer of UsThe Boy Who Sailed the Ocean in an ArmchairDid I Mention I Love You? (The DIMILY Trilogy, #1)Am I Normal Yet? (Normal, #1)How Hard Can Love Be? (Normal, #2)An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes, #1)

Talon - ⭐ | Confessions of a Murder Suspect - ⭐ | The Last Summer of Us - ⭐ | The Boy Who Sailed the Ocean in an Armchair - ⭐.5 | Did I Mention I Love You? - ⭐.5 | Am I Normal Yet? - ⭐ (ALL THE STARS. I LOVED IT.) | How Hard Can Love Be? - ⭐ | An Ember in the Ashes - 

As you can see, I've had an amazing reading month! I LOVED Talon, The Last Summer of Us, The Boy Who Sailed the Ocean in an Armchair and An Ember in the Ashes! They were all so brilliant!

Books I'll Be Reading in February:

I'm super duper excited for ALL of these! Especially Ink and Bone and The School for Good and Evil! 

Have you read any of these? What books are you planning on reading in February? How has your 2016 been so far? 😀
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Monday, 25 January 2016

Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne had me laughing, crying, relating and clutching the book to my heart

Am I Normal Yet? (Normal, #1)Title: Am I Normal Yet?
Series: Normal #1
Author: Holly Bourne
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publication: August 1st 2015, Usborne Publishing
Pages: 434 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you to Usborne Publishing for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
All Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…
But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love?

This book was hard for me to read. And that what makes it so brilliant. Holly Bourne takes the somewhat prohibited subject of mental health and reveals it to us in its messy, flawed, heart-breaking existence in an eye-opening, harrowing account of a girl's battle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. 

I loved this book. So much. I was basically a squealing, flailing, sobbing mess with a happy heart but tears dancing across my cheeks due to one of the most beautiful YA literary experiences I've had in a while. Even now a day later, my feelings for this book haven't dimmed in the slightest - in fact, they've grown. I literally can't stop thinking about this book, about the characters, the writing and the truth it speaks. I'm in love with Am I Normal Yet? and I'm sure you will be too.

I think I'll begin with how much I adore the characters. My own anxiety hasn't been that great lately and especially at the time of writing this review and it makes me so badly wish that I could call up Evie (and Oli who is basically me) and speak to them as well Amber and Lottie who I would love to have a friendship with. The characters feel so real and I LOVE THEM SO MUCH.

I loved Evie. She was so relatable and so honest with us about her struggle. She felt like a breathing, existing person - every character did! It feels like they're out there, living in the real world and to say anything else would be sacrilege. I loved Evie, she was funny, she was thoughtful, she tried to get better, she tried hiding her illness not only so she could continue trying to live society's idea of normal to protect herself from the hatred of the world and the disappointment of those close to her. I also thought Holly Bourne tackled the thoughts people with mental illness are bombarded with superbly well. The bitterness and the self-loathing and the desire to be "normal"whilst then further discussing the topic of what is normal anyway? 

Evie's also slightly naive which is understandable as she hasn't been on the social scene for three years. She was mistreated and left feeling helpless and foolish several times due to dating and I felt so sorry for her but I liked that that too was realistic. I liked that Holly Bourne showed dating in it's awkward and often disappointing glory. YA books tend to have unrealistic dating scenarios and I loved how this book showed that dating isn't always picture perfect and, especially when you're sixteen, it can be disappointing, it can be awkward and it make things worse instead of better. I felt like I was learning along with Evie and drinking up life lessons with her. This book taught me so much about life, love and anxiety and I can't thank Holly Bourne enough for giving me this opportunity to be enlightened about so many important areas.

I loved Evie's friends Amber and Lottie! I loved Amber and how passionate she was about feminism. She's strong-willed and determined but she's also vulnerable and self-conscious and I liked how the author balanced those qualities out. I really liked Lottie too. She was intelligent and she knew it and didn't allow herself to dumb herself down for guys like many people do.

I adored Evie's little sister, Rose. She was so supportive and wise and I loved her! I also liked how Bourne showed that Rose also had problems to deal with and that everyone, no matter how fine and lovely they may appear, is dealing with something.

Then there were the three love interests scattered throughout the book (don't worry, there wasn't a love triangle/square thing). Guy was a total jerk and I thought maybe he had some redeeming qualities after the party where he helped Evie but I don't think he could ever fully redeem himself due to his weed/smoking habit. I never liked him though and my dislike for him just grew throughout the book. Ethan…I laugh just thinking about him. He was a character, that's for sure. Oli! I LOVE OLI. I want a book from Oli's perspective so badly as I've had agoraphobia and I've had to stop going to school because of my panic attacks and like Oli, I've had my parents nearby if I go to the movies etc. I really hope Oli features in the sequels because I love his adorableness so much.

Another aspect of AINT that I adored was the strong female friendship. I have a friendship like that but my friends are in South Africa and it's one of the things I miss the most about home. Evie, Amber and Lottie are really there for each other, always uplifting, supporting and empowering each other even if one engages in activities that they don't agree with. I loved how this book showed the meaning of true friendship - of accepting and loving someone despite their flaws. I also love how it showed that relationships can be fickle and fleeting but a sturdy friendship can withstand the tests of time. I loved how it showed that if someone accepts you completely despite the panic attacks and the irrational fears they're someone worth fighting for.

The plot was great too. I flew through the book (when I wasn't taking a minute to remind myself that I wasn't Evie because it literally felt like we, the reader, are submerged in Evie's thoughts) and it was an addictive read. I appreciated the honesty in which it showed the tiring, pointless fight between logic and irrationality and the treacherous climb it takes to reach the cusp of "normality". The cusp of full recovery and the quickening downward spiral as you lose your footing, falling to the bottom of the mountain and have to repeat the slow, exhausting climb once again to reach the person you used to be - but this time you're weighed down by the baggage of doubt and crippling fear that you won't be able to stitch your fragmented self back together again. This struggle was depicted with such heart-rendering candor it quite frankly had me sobbing because Holly made me understand, she made me live Evie's struggle and it was jarring but I'm so thankful for that. That she provided me with the unflinching truth that will help me understand the world and it's people slightly more.

I also appreciated that Holly Bourne didn't romanticize mental health. Nothing could heal Evie miraculously and Holly made it quite clear in the book that Evie would have to keep working at it. The recovery process was so genuine that I...I don't actually have words it was just utterly PERFECT. It highlights the fact that it's a constant effort to get better and then you will have a relapse along the way, it's inevitable, and then you'll have to keep working at it to get back to where you used to be. It's frustrating and it's exhausting and Holly emphasized that truth.

So many books write a romance that fixes the protagonist's problems and I may have screamed with joy that this book didn't have that. Sure, I adore a love story that fixes all of life's problems and where the couple ride off into the sunset on a white horse and live happily ever after as much as the next girl, but as much as we want that to happen, it doesn't. This book shows that not all guys are going to be Augustus Waters or Tobias or Will Herondale, they're not going to whisper poetry into your ear when you're crying, or be by your side day and night, or profess their love for you under a moonlit sky. Sometimes the guys want to take advantage of you, a lot of the time they smoke, drink, sleep around and do drugs and a lot of time they won't be as supportive as you would like if you say you have a mental illness. I mean, of course that's not always the case, but generally speaking. This book portrayed relationships honestly and showed how they can muddy the waters and complicate things instead of making things better and I applaud that.

The writing was excellent too! I love how it's a running commentary on Evie's thoughts. You're basically in her head and that is quite a terrifying and uncomfortable place to be but that just once again proves Holly's extraordinary talent to expose the blatant truth of how catastrophic it is to live with a mental illness. It was excellent.

Am I Normal Yet? was an extraordinary novel that left me reeling. It was a harrowing, hopeful account of one girl's struggle with a mental illness and her determination to overcome it. I haven't felt this much reading a book in awhile, it tore at my heart and freed the tears that threatened to spill...but it also attached wings to my heart and made it soar as the undercurrent of hope and strength grew as I turned the pages. Holly Bourne wrote this book with such honesty. So many sentiments Am I Normal Yet? held were thoughts that had echoed mine before and that just proves how brilliant this book is. If you want a book that will make you understand the world, understand yourself and leave you mind-blown, read this.Truly a stellar read.

I give it: 5/5 cupcakes!

- Force feeding/hospitalization/rituals such as washing hands, brushing teeth until mouth bleeds etc

- "F" word using throughout
- Scenes of underage drinking and secondary characters smoking weed
- An almost sex scene

“Because now people use the phrase OCD to describe minor personality quirks. "Oooh, I like my pens in a line, I'm so OCD."NO YOU'RE FUCKING NOT."Oh my God, I was so nervous about that presentation, I literally had a panic attack."NO YOU FUCKING DIDN'T."I'm so hormonal today. I just feel totally bipolar."SHUT UP, YOU IGNORANT BUMFACE.”
“Do you ever wonder,” he asked, “how we decide what’s mad and what isn’t? There’s so much crazy stuff in the world – everything’s a mess most of the time – but then people who can’t handle it are called mental and have films made about them… But what if they’re just reacting to the weirdness of the universe? Isn’t it more weird to just think everything’s okay, when it clearly isn’t?”  
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Friday, 22 January 2016

Stacking the Shelves #86

I hope you all are well! 
This is my haul for the past two weeks and I'm proud of the self-control I've exercised. I only bought 3 books, only requested 3 and NO LIBRARY BOOKS. Can I get around of applause?

Thank you, thank you very much.

Review Books:
I'm super excited for the books I got this week. I requested Did I Mention I Love You? By Estelle Maskame to review and they sent me a copy and I may have screamed just a tad too loudly. Thank you Black and White Publishing!

Netgalley Books:
Not If I See You FirstWalk the Edge (Thunder Road, #2)

Bought Books:
I also went to charity shops this week and I'm super excited for what I got! One of my very good blogging friends, Jolien from The Fictional Reader, has recommended Quiet so much so when I saw it at Sue Ryder I was like I NEED IT. Then I also saw The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time which I've been wanting to read forever and it was only 99p so I was like YASS. Then I went to Whole Foods (I really love Whole Foods) and they have a bookcase with books where you can choose what the price it is as it's a donation to a charity and I saw they had The Baby by Lisa Drakeford which Amber from The Mile Long Bookshelf really enjoyed, so I couldn't pass up the opportunity!

Ah, my precious.

So, tell me! Have you read any of these? Do you want to? What books have you recently added to your TBR pile?

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Thursday, 21 January 2016

I wanted to fall in love with Did I Mention I Love You? by Estelle Maskame but twas not meant to be

Did I Mention I Love You? (The DIMILY Trilogy, #1)Title: Did I Mention I Love You?
Series: DIMILY #1
Author: Estelle Maskame
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 421 Pages, Paperback
Publication: April 30th 2015, Black & White Publishing
Rating: 3.5/5 Cupcakes!
Source: Thank you to Black & White Publishing for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected my review!
When sixteen-year-old Eden Munro agrees to spend the summer with her estranged father in the beachfront city of Santa Monica, California, she has no idea what she’s letting herself in for. Eden's parents are divorced and have gone their separate ways, and now her father has a brand new family. For Eden, this means she's about to meet three new step-brothers. The eldest of the three is Tyler Bruce, a troubled teenager with a short temper and a huge ego. Complete polar opposites, Eden quickly finds herself thrust into a world full of new experiences as Tyler's group of friends take her under their wing. But the one thing she just can't understand is Tyler, and the more she presses to figure out the truth about him, the more she finds herself falling for the one person she shouldn't – her step-brother.
Throw in Tyler's clingy girlfriend and a guy who has his eyes set on Eden, and there's secrets, lies and a whole lot of drama. But how can Eden keep her feelings under control? And can she ever work out the truth about Tyler? 
Did I Mention I Love You is the first book in the phenomenal DIMILY trilogy, following the lives of Eden Munro and Tyler Bruce as they try to find their way in an increasingly confusing world. 

When I first saw the glowing reviews for DIMILY that praised the intriguing story line and swoon-worthy romance, I knew I had to read it! I contacted the publishing company and was lucky enough to receive a review copy and I immediately started reading it, finishing it within hours. I wanted to love this book as much as everybody else, I wanted to explode with feelings and adoration for this book but unfortunately that wasn't the case.

Did I Mention I Love You? is the first book in the trilogy written by teen Wattpad sensation, Estelle Maskame. It features sixteen year old Eden Munro who goes to visit her father and his new family in Santa Monica, LA. Eden is expecting to be introduced to three little stepbrothers but when she arrives she's surprised to find that they are far from being six years old. There's eleven year old Chase, fourteen year old Jamie and the dark, brooding seventeen year old Tyler. At first Eden can't stand her oldest arrogant, sullen stepbrother but as she begins to spend time with him and his friends, she sees glimpses of a vulnerable, lost boy hidden beneath the cunning facade of recklessness. The more she tries to uncover the reason behind the anger and the devil may care attitude, she finds herself falling for the boy who is forbidden - her stepbrother.

Firstly, I love the premise and I love the setting. I can just imagine how awful it must be to fall in love with someone who you know you shouldn't, someone who is forbidden, someone who loves you equal amounts but someone who falling in love with will have society engulfing you in flames for your sin. It definitely added drama to the novel and I was hooked as I flicked through the pages, desperately needing to know how things played out. I also adored the setting. I've always wanted to spend a summer in LA and reading this book allowed me to live that fantasy! I read this book on a rainy, winter's day with frost lining the windowsill but despite that, I was languishing on the beach in the warm Los Angeles' sunshine, swept up in the whirling adventure of a girl falling into a forbidden romance in the City of Angels. The setting was captured perfectly and the essence of summer spilled from the pages enveloping me in its warmth. Did I Mention I Love You? is the perfect book to read when you need to escape the barren land of winter.

I also thought the writing was very good, especially as Estelle was so young when she wrote DIMILY. The writing flowed smoothly without disruption, the dialogue was perfect, it wasn't cheesy or awkward like many contemporaries I've read. It was funny, it was heart-breaking and the writing was really what increased my enjoyment of this novel. Did I Mention I Love You? is a highly addictive read. I flew through this book. I'm generally quite a slow reader and I also struggle to read a book in one sitting, but I read over half this book in two hours which just proves that this book had me utterly hooked. Despite all the issues I had with this book I did care somewhat for the characters and I did want to know how things would end in this installment and I do want to read the rest of the trilogy because I can see the characters have potential to grow and it's also blatantly apparent that Estelle has a lot of talent and I'd like to see how she further incorporates this into future novels.

Did I Mention I Love You? was intriguing, as I had said and it never once made me lose interest. There were some revelations that made me clap my hand over my mouth and gasp "No." which a book hasn't made me do in awhile. It had me laughing and it had me crying towards the end so it's definitely an immersive read and I'm sure as I read the rest of the trilogy I will get even more immersed into the tumultuous life of Eden and Tyler.

The characters all had depth as well. Although I didn't like most of them, it can't be said that they were flat characters. Each had their own personality that vibrantly burst from the pages demanding my attention. They were complex and three dimensional which is always a must for me when reading a book! 

However, like I said, there were quite a few things that bothered me about this book. Firstly, there are many dark topics included in this book and I wasn't happy with how they were dealt with. I feel like this book trivializes the aforementioned topics and it doesn't honestly portray the repercussions of the destructive addictions the characters indulge in. Some of the characters are in dire need of help but the book neglects to underline how life-threatening their habits are. Tyler takes cocaine, smokes weed and drinks a lot but he shows no symptoms of the detrimental impact his lifestyle is putting on his body. I don't know what the side effects of substance abuse is but I know it doesn't allow you to function like a normal person. It just wasn't written honestly enough, There wasn't a recovery process in this book (perhaps it's in the sequels?) but the book seemed to hint that Tyler could just stop like that and if you're addicted to something (which he must be as he does it daily and says at times he needs it), you need external help. It also bothered me that no one made an effort to get Tyler clean even though he's growing more dependent on drugs to help suppress the pain he feels. When Eden discovers I was really disappointed that she didn't tell Tyler's mom. I know she barely knew him and probably thought it wasn't her place to get involved but if it were my stepbrother at a party doing hardcore drugs I wouldn't sit back and watch his fall to destruction, I would ask his parents to get him help. Tyler binge drinks until he passes out and was in a seizure from drug abuse once but his friends never sought medical attention and just waited for him to regain consciousness which really confused me. Surely you can't just come out of something like that with no side effects? 

Secondly, Eden clearly has an eating disorder. She runs instead of eats, at every mention of a meal she either picks at her food, gets rid of it or doesn't eat and mentions a couple of times about her low self-esteem and bad body image. Surely she would feel weak and tired doing these things, or perhaps feel faint whilst running? She too like Tyler functions like a healthy human being and I think she author should've emphasized the dangers of under-eating and drug abuse and allowed an adult to notice the struggles both her and Tyler were going through and get them help. I'm hoping that Eden and Tyler will help each other through their problems but that's not something I'm particularly fond of that books generally seem to contain - that being in a relationship will solve your problems.

Secondly, I didn't really like any of the characters. The only ones I really liked were Ella, Jamie and Chase. They seemed like such lovely people and I wish they had played a bigger part in the book. I never really connected with Eden from the first few pages and that didn't improve throughout the book. She was naive, impressionable and slightly hypocritical. She complained about Tyler drinking but then she did the exact same thing which confused me. How can you be a positive influence in someone's life who has substance addiction if you're doing the same thing? She also initially seemed uncomfortable with partying and such but she always went along with Tiffani/Rachael/Meghan's partying habits.

Tyler...I don't know how I feel about him. I spent 90% of the book believing him to be a jerk and I still kind of think he is, but after he revealed what happened to him in his past I can understand slightly more why he acts the way he does. However, I don't think he had to be so rude, controlling and so terrible at decision making to such an extent...however, you can see both him and Eden have good hearts and I'm hoping that they'll make better decisions in the following books. You could see he had a good heart with subtle hints such as by warning Eden to stay away from one of the characters who uses girls even though he barely knew her, by never getting behind a wheel when he was intoxicated and by the heartwarming moments he shared with his mother and brothers. 

The other characters I couldn't really warm up to, although I didn't mind Rachael and Dean that much, despite them being too fond of alcoholic beverages. I could've liked all the characters more if they didn't just drink and party. I know a lot of people like this book because it depicts teenagers realistically but I know a lot of teenagers, myself included, who don't smoke/drink/do drugs and I really wish the author had at least one character in here who didn't succumb to that lifestyle, someone who could break the stereotype.

I also don't understand the parents in this book. I really liked Ella and Eden's mother and I adored the relationship between Eden and her mom - I hope that features more in the next book! However, Eden's dad and Ella never disciplined them enough. I can understand why Ella was hesitant to discipline Tyler but Eden's dad had no excuse when it came to restricting her activities. She would stay out late and drink and do it several times yet the next day she was let out again. Surely parents can't be that lenient?

The romance...I'm not sure how I feel about it. There was definitely chemistry between Tyler and Eden towards the end however I never really fully felt that attraction between them. It took them awhile to confess their feelings however, Eden was already stating that she was falling for him quite early on and I didn't exactly see how. Tyler was everything I would avoid in a guy, he was disrespectful, rude, engaged in substance abuse and I wasn't very happy with the way he spoke to women at times. He completely disregarded their feelings, spoke like he could control them and treated them like property almost. Examples:
"Move your cute ass out of my way before you [Eden] really piss me off." 
"You were becoming my distraction...but apparently I can't have you."
Firstly, you can't have her because she's her own person and doesn't belong to anybody but herself. Secondly, by stating that you want her as a distraction almost implies that's all that you want her for. I must say though, that despite my misgivings on them earlier on by the end of the book they did seem as if they would be good for each other. They both need to receive love and you can clearly see they do genuinely care for each other and I am rooting for them despite their unfortunate circumstances.

*Spoilers (kind of)*:
Another thing I must mention before I round off this review, is I was upset about the cheating and I still don't know how I feel about it. Clearly Tyler's girlfriend Tiffani has some serious issues with being clingy, manipulative and evil and the only reason Tyler was with her was because she knew too many of his secrets that she wouldn't be afraid to spill if they broke up, and Tiffani was only with Tyler to improve her popularity and reputation but I still wasn't happy about. I was more upset with Eden than with Tyler as there was no love between him and Tiffani but Eden didn't know that at first and she still gave into her temptations despite knowing that was tempting someone into cheating. I didn't really mind so much after discovering that Tiffani was indeed quite psychotic but...ya know?

Overall, I'm quite undecided about Did I Mention I Love You?. It was an addictive read that had me turning the pages furiously, secrets that had me gasping out loud, drama that had me captivated the whole way through, complex characters and revelations that had me in tears joined seamlessly together by lyrical writing. It allowed me to be engulfed in the eternal flames of summer and in the complicated lives of two teenagers falling into a forbidden romance - a perfect escape from this grey January. However, there were things that bothered me about this book that prevented me from enjoying it fully. Despite that, I will be reading the next one as Estelle is a talented author and I look forward to seeing where she takes Eden and Tyler in the rest of the trilogy.

I give it: 3.5/5 cupcakes!

- Drug abuse
- *Child abuse* (This could be considered spoilery, so highlight if you would like to read)
- References to an eating disorder

- Cheating
- Scenes of drug and alcohol use
- Implicit sex scene/brief mention of other sexual activities
- "F" word used several times
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Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Review - Clockwork Prince - Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices, #2)Title: Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices #2)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal Fantasy
Publication: December 6th 2011, Margaret K. McElderry
Pages: 528 Pages
Source: Library
Rating: 5/5 CUPCAKES!
In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street—and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.
With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move—and that one of their own has betrayed them.
Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will—the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?
As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.

*Contains spoilers for previous book
**I wrote this three years ago and I'm only publishing it now...I don't even know anymore

I don't actually know what to say. At the moment I am experiencing a whole void of emotions, still trying to recover and gather my thoughts after reading such a breath-taking, and often, heart-breaking novel. When I read Clockwork Angel, I was sure Clare's following books wouldn't be able to top it, but she proved me wrong. Because guys, Clockwork Prince was even better than Clockwork Angel. If you haven't yet read at least one of Cassandra Clare's need to, as soon as possible.

There were a lot of happenings in Clockwork Prince, things happened that you never would have thought could've happened. Charlotte being set a challenge by one of the Clave members that wishes for Charlotte to lose her position as Head of the Institute. They discover that the reasons for the Magister always being one step because one of their own has betrayed them. You will see a whole new side of the characters Clockwork Prince, you will see relationships grow, you will see why Will tries to turn everyone's love for him into resentment, and you get to see a whole lot more of Jem. You need to read it soon, because it'll blow your mind. 

Clockwork Prince focuses a lot on the characters, and what the characters want and need, however, still retaining an amazing plot line and beautiful, poetic writing. In Clockwork Prince a lot of shocking things happen that I honestly didn't see coming, especially in the love triangle/characters front. I felt that Clockwork Angel focused more on introducing us to the Shadowhunter's world and I think it contained more action, and that was great, but in Clockwork Prince, the characters are more detailed than before, we get to truly know their needs and wants and about their past, we were able to learn about the things that happened in their lives, things that happened in order to shape the people who they are today. There was still a lot of action though, don't get me wrong. There were these fast-paced, heart-racing, can't-turn-the-page-fast-enough scenes, that were utterly amazing and had me in a reading frenzy. Everything was just so amazing and perfect, gah!*dies*. It was just amazing, there was just so much awesomeness, I can't even.

The plot was fantastic. Cassandra Clare always manages to create such amazing, intriguing story lines that have you hooked. There was seriously a lot of twists and turns, some that made you feel happy and sad simultaneously, and others had you feeling heart-broken or over-joyed with happiness. Her story lines are real and entertaining, and they are generally an amazing roller-coaster ride of adventure! 

One thing I must say, is that I do find Cassandra Clare's books hard to get into at first, but once I have read the first few chapters, I cannot stop reading. In fact, the other day I decided I was just going to spend the whole morning reading, and I managed to read about 100 pages or so of Clockwork Prince in less than two hours. So if you do sometimes find them hard to get into, then just keep reading, it will be worth it, trust me. 

The characters, gah, the characters! I don't think I have really read books before, where when I re-read the books or read the following books in the series, it makes me feel like I am visiting old friends. From the first page when we are shown Will strolling through London, and then later on with Will, Tessa and Jem altogether, I couldn't help but feel a warm sense of happiness fill me, because it's almost as if I get to spend a few days with them, just by simply entering their world via Cassandra Clare's books. of my favourite book boyfriends. One of the best characters that I have ever had the pleasure of reading about! He's handsome, sarcastic and loves books and literature. When I read Clockwork Angel I instantly fell in love with him, however, I use to become often infuriated with him for the way he treated people...but in Clockwork Prince you see why he had to hold people away, not necessarily because he wanted to, but because he had to. We get to fully see the sensitive, loving side to him that we haven't really witnessed before, the cracks are finally showing through his armor and it was amazing seeing that lovely side to him, which is even more beautiful than you could imagine. *spoiler* And oh my gosh! Who else found it so incredibly heart-breaking when he declared his love for Tessa and she had to tell him that she was engaged to Jem and you could just feel  all that happiness leave him. It was awful reading about his heart being broken :( *spoiler*

In Clockwork Angel we were introduced to Jem, but we didn't really see a lot of him and I felt the first book in TID was focused more on Will and Tessa, whereas Clockwork Prince mainly focused on Jem and Tessa. Jem has always been the kind, gentle, good-hearted one between him and Will. Jem being sweet and good-natured whereas Will being the sarcastic, playful, adventurous one. When you read Clockwork Prince you begin to learn more about Jem, more about the illness that threatens to kill him shortly, more about his past and more about his love for Tessa. 

Whilst reading Clockwork Prince, there will be one time or another where you honestly don't know which you prefer, Will or Jem. You get to see both sides to them, the longing and the fear that hides beneath Jem's calm exterior and the hurt, heart-break, anger and suffering that lingers behind Will's snarky playfulness. 

We really get to learn more about Tessa, just like Tessa gets to learn more about herself. In Clockwork Prince, Tessa wants to learn more about herself. She wants to learn about herself and her parents, can you can feel the desperation and confusion she feels. The confusion of not knowing what she is exactly and the desperation to learn about herself.  We also get to see more of Tessa's romantic side in Clockwork Prince, as well as her learning to fight.

Jessamine...despite Jessamine being quite stuck-up and snobby, I still like her. You can see underneath her pompous exterior that she's just a broken, mislead girl. She hates being a Shadowhunter and feels it is not right for her, and some of her choices were pretty stupid, but I still felt sorry for her.

In Clockwork Angel we didn't see much of Charlotte and Henry as a married couple, they always seem to be doing their own things and there wasn't really that marital love between them. HOWEVER, there were a couple of really sweet parts between them and when they revealed something towards the end it was so cute!

Once again Cassandra Clare's writing is flawless. They way she writes is so poetically beautiful. Everything she writes is perfect, from the world-building, to the romantic scenes to the sarcastic banter between the characters. Perfection.

The romance was pretty epic in Clockwork Prince. The love triangle in the The Infernal Devices is the only one I care for, as well as the one in The Sky is Everywhere. You feel for all three the characters so deeply that you don't want either to be hurt. You can feel how badly both Jem and Will want to be with Tessa, however, she can only choose one. It was heart-breaking seeing their hearts being broken and the pain they went through.

In Clockwork Prince you get to see more of Jem and Tessa's relationship which makes it even harder for who you want Tessa to end up with! 

Clockwork Prince was the AMAZING sequel to Clockwork Angel, even better I think than the former book in the series.  Everything is so amazing, from the world Cassandra depicts, to the lovable characters, to the intense love triangle. Clockwork Prince will make you feel a whole wad of emotions, from sincere happiness right down to heartbreak, once you finish Clockwork Prince you'll desperately be needing the last book in the trilogy, Clockwork Princess. 

I give it: 5/5 CUPCAKES!

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Monday, 18 January 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #33 - Top Ten Books I've Recently Added to my TBR Pile

My TBR pile is huge and I think it might fall on top of me and crush me but #itsworthit, am I right?! I haven't actually been buying that many books because I'm really trying to control my book-buying habits and I haven't been requesting that many books either because of aforementioned gargantuan TBR pile BUT I have acquired a few - HERE THEY ARE!

Top Ten Books I've Recently Added to the TBR Pile that is Taking Over My Room:


It's quite funny, my parents really want to watch The Book Thief and I'm like NO, MUST READ THE BOOK FIRST. But it's been nearly two years and I still haven't read it and they still haven't watched the movie, excuse me while I go sit in the corner of shame.

This is one of the books I've got to review and I'll be reading it very shortly. I've lately been watching a few movies centered around the Jewish holocaust and I'm really looking forward to reading it but I know I'm going to cry my eyes out so I'm mentally preparing myself.

I tried reading this but I struggled because of how graphic the author detailed the struggles in the life of someone with OCD but I really enjoyed the friendship/feminist topics covered in the book, so I will be finishing this one day.

I LOVED THIS BOOK. Here's my review, if you want to read it *WINK*:

I love his books, so I can't wait to read this!


I got this to review this week and I'm so utterly excited to read it!

I have heard SUCH good things

I got an ARC of this and I really must get to it soon! It looks so good!

Which books have you recently added to your TBR? Which book should I read next? Let me know!
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Thursday, 14 January 2016

The Boy Who Sailed the Ocean in an Armchair by Lara Williamson captured my heart

The Boy Who Sailed the Ocean in an ArmchairTitle: The Boy Who Sailed The Ocean in an Armchair
Series: N/A
Author: Lara Williamson
Genre: Middle-Grade, Contemporary
Publication: October 1st 2015, Usborne Publishing
Pages: 336 Pages, Paperback
Rating: 4.5/5 CUPCAKES!
Source: Thank you to Usborne Publishing for sending me this book in exchange for a review. This has in no way affected my opinion of the novel.
Becket has no idea why his dad takes him and his brother Billy to a new home in the middle of the night. But he's determined to find out.
So Becket sets out on a journey of discovery with Billy, a snail called Brian and a Jedi Knight. It's not plain sailing but then what journeys ever are?
An extraordinary story of courage, dreams and finding your way, from the bestselling author of A Boy Called Hope.

I'm not sure what grabbed my attention first when I saw this book, perhaps it was the enchanting title or perhaps the cover that promised me a heartwarming, endearing story or the synopsis that drew me in immediately. Or perhaps it was all three. All I know was that I was beyond excited for this book and my heightened expectations were met and even exceeded. The Boy Who Sailed the Ocean in an Armchair was part heartbreaking, part whimsical and fully and completely breathtaking.

The Boy Who Sailed the Ocean in an Armchair centers around ten year old Becket, his seven year old brother Billy and Billy's pet snail, Brian. Billy and Becket are upset and confused when their dad packs their furniture up and whisks them away in the dead of the night, away from their home and their almost-second-mother, Pearl. They are furious with their dad and are determined to find their way back to Pearl and back to their home. Along the way they form a detective agency, meet a delightful cast of characters, grieve, believe and discover that just because someone's gone doesn't necessarily mean it's something as permanent as goodbye.

If I somebody asked me what I loved most about this book, the only possible answer would be everything. I fell in love with this book in the best way possible: from the very first page, a love that surmounted throughout the story until by the end of the last page my heart was exploding with love for this book. I fell in love with the authentic, charismatic characters that have taken up a space in my heart, the witty, scrumptious writing and the meaningful, insightful lessons intertwining this delectable delight, making it a perfect read.

I'll start with the characters as, even after days later, my mind still wanders to them. I loved Becket. I loved his honesty, his snark and the perfect way the author captured the coinciding natures of childhood imagination and curiosity as well as the questions and complex thoughts that accompany those nearing the cusp of adolescence. He just felt so real and was written with so much depth. I found it fascinating how he read medical books and how he wanted to be a doctor and how incredibly smart he was, but it was never unrealistic. He was still quite naive and innocent especially with some of the situations he was faced with and I think that proves what exceptional talent Lara Williamson, to write a character so brilliantly and capture the genuine voice of a child. Reading this book took me back to when I was 10 and it was like being able to rekindle the friendship with my childhood which takes a special sort of novel to accomplish.

I also ADORED Billy, Becket's little brother. He was written so magnificently. He was innocent and imaginative and said exactly what was on his mind and I loved his character. Billy, broke my heart though, he really did. He often wondered whether it was his fault that people left them and he wondered if it was all his fault that his mother died (she passed away during childbirth due to an illness she had) and it tore my heart apart that such a loving, kind, imaginative child could wonder if it was doing that people left them. I just wanted to both grab him and Becket into a massive hug and protect them from the evils of the world. I too loved Billy's friendship with Brian the snail, who has the most personality I've ever seen in a snail before!

Another thing that made me feel warm and fuzzy inside was Becket and Billy's relationship. It was - like everything else - written marvelously and so genuinely. Becket and Billy are brothers, they bicker, the tease each other, at times they think the other is the stupidest creature to ever walk the earth, but they are also unafraid to show each other how much they love and deeply care for the other. I really appreciated that Becket went along with his brother and Brian's shenanigans, the way he allowed Billy's imagination to run wild and set his free as well to run alongside his little brother's. I loved the scenes where Becket would take care of Billy and try to protect him from the monsters that were starting to reveal themselves in this world. It was beautiful, truly. 

The other characters were written extremely well too! Every single character in this book had a unique character with interesting backstories interwoven throughout the novel. I loved that. I loved how Lara Williamson made these characters feel so real, it's one of those books where you can picture the characters existing right now, in this world, doing extraordinary things and I find that truly magical. I adored the secondary characters. I loved Cat (my favorite besides Becket and Billy), she was so kind and supportive and I really hope she'll be a constant figure in the boys' lives. I also adored Nevaeh and the faith she had in the world, as well as Knuckles who loved his father and believed in him despite everything. The relationships in this book were written so incredibly brilliant and it was so heartfelt. 

That's something else that I loved about this book, was the tenacity and faith the Becket and his friends had. They all had experienced their fair share of difficulties and heartbreak but they never stopped believing, they never lost their belief that things will get better and that really spoke to me. Even though they had times where they doubted themselves and the things they thought they knew, they held onto hope, they saw magic in the world around them instead of allowing themselves to be plagued by the calamities around them. We could all learn to be a little bit more like the characters in this book.

The Boy Who Sailed the Ocean in an Armchair captured my heart from the first page and still hasn't relinquished its grip. The writing was simple, yet touching, the most exquisite writing of all. This book took me back to how it feels to be ten years old, it taught me to never lose faith, to view the world in a magical light, to believe in miracles...and it taught me that just because someone leaves, doesn't mean you have to ever say goodbye to them. The Boy Who Sailed the Ocean in an Armchair had me laughing out loud, it had tears gathering in the corners of my eyes and it had my heart filling itself with love for this book. It's a magical gem of a novel and I highly advise you to read this book so you can fall in love with it just as I have.

I give it: 4.5/5 CUPCAKES!

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