Thursday, 26 January 2017

How my bookish habits have changed since I started blogging


I've been blogging for nearly five years (WHAT?! HOW?!) and I've noticed that my reading habits have drastically changed over the past five years. Regardless of my blog, I'm pretty sure my reading habits would've changed as I grew from an awkward thirteen-year-old into an awkward (almost) eighteen-year-old. Life has gotten busier as I've gotten older, there are more responsibilities (especially more academic responsibilities) and I thought it would be interesting to see how my reading/bookish habits have changed since I first started blogging. SO, LET'S GET THIS SHOW ON THE ROAD. YAS.

I remember when I first started my book blog, I was this dinky barely thirteen-year-old WHO DIDN'T KNOW WHAT YA WAS. Like, literally, I remember going onto Amazon and seeing someone say "Such a brilliant YA book!" and I was like, "Wut dat?". Oh, the ignorance. It burns. I'm so glad I started blogging because I don't think I would've found YA until I was much older and that BREAKS MY HEART. Can you imagine?! What a despairing image.


This makes me sad but it's definitely something I've noticed. I think this is because a) The books I'm reading are a lot thicker (I was reading MG books and they were generally like 200 pages each and now most books I read are 400 or pages) so it feels like I'm reading less b) I'm older = more school = less reading time c) I have more (bookish related) hobbies - writing reviews, bookstagram, commenting on blogs, writing posts - that although I love doing, it does mean there's less time for reading!


Before I was a part of the book blogosphere I'd buy random books, I'd get random books out of the library and I'd just read whatever but since I started book blogging, MY EYES HAVE BEEN OPENED. I KNOW OF ALL OF THE BOOKS. I READ ALL OF THE REVIEWS. I'm a lot more discerning with what I read now which is mostly a good thing but I do admit, I kind of miss just going to the library and checking out random books but...

Although I loved pretty much every book I read when I was younger and I don't think I was as finicky about rating a book high, I've definitely noticed that I'm reading books with better writing, plots, and characters as opposed to what I read before. Even the occasional teen books I read before I started blogging weren't that great - they lacked depth and complexity and now that I think back, they really weren't that great. I've discovered many, many new favourites and there are so many books that I've read since 2012 that will stay with me forever. There aren't that many favourites from before I started blogging!



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Due to being aware of new releases and constantly being recommended books, I find myself buying a lot more books as opposed to when I was younger. I would randomly buy books when I went to charity stores and bookstores but now whenever I hear of a new release that sounds incredible or 231 bloggers are fangirling over a book...I buy it. I also think I buy more because I see all the pretty shelfies on bookstagram and it makes me want to grow my collection? LIKE, LOOK HOW PRETTY.

Before I started blogging I would randomly walk into charity stores/bookstores and buy whichever book's blurb sounded intriguing but now I only buy books I've heard great things about and books that have been newly released. I never buy a book without reading reviews first which is good as I can generally steer away from books that may contain bad dialogue/things that trigger my anxiety/insta-love etc but it does make me wonder if I'm missing potential favourites all because of a lower rating on Goodreads. 


My TBR pile hasn't been devoid of books since I was probably about eight. My parents have always bought me books and I've been used the library since I was 5 or 6 so I've always had a TBR pile, but since blogging it has definitely grown at quite an impressive rate. I get sent books every month to review, I buy more books than ever, I live in England where books are so much cheaper than South Africa so it's no wonder that it's grown so much. Also: I NEED to work on reducing it because it's big...like, it's beginning to rival Everest. Slight exaggeration but you get the idea.

I've always taken pictures of books. Before blogging...I didn't have a mobile so I didn't take any pictures of books but then a few months after starting blogging I got a phone and I started randomly taking bookish pictures that I would send to my friends like, LOOK NEW BOOKS (they didn't really care. HEATHENS. APPRECIATE MY PHOTOGRAPHY TALENT). I then progressed to snapping photos of my book hauls and current reads and tweeting it to my blogging friends and putting them on my blog occasionally but since starting my bookstagram account I take pictures of books a lot (you don't say). I don't randomly get books off my shelves and take a quick picture anymore, I actually make an effort to make it look slightly more aesthetically pleasing. That's another good thing that's come out of book blogging - photography. I don't think I ever would've gotten into photography if it weren't for all the brilliant bookstagram photos I've seen. Yay!

I've definitely noticed I feel more guilty if I don't read a lot. I've never been a person who just reads in their free time. I have quite a few other hobbies - I've always loved reading/dancing/pilate's/piano/guitar/drawing/computer games so I'll do either one of those in my spare time which has always been fine but now that I have a book blog and I have to read in order to produce content, I feel so guilty if I don't read. Now that I'm in my second to last year of school I don't have time to read and when I do, sometimes I don't feel like reading as I've spent the whole day in front textbooks so I feel like doing something creative or something physical. However, if I don't read in my spare time I feel guilty. I look at my towering TBR pile, I think of all my review copies, my Goodreads challenge...I definitely want to stop feeling guilty for not reading because it's a fun hobby and I need to accept that it's okay to want to do other stuff as well.


STORY TIME: I used to have this system for what book to read next when I was younger. I would gather my (small) stack of books that I wanted to read and I would look at the number of pages each book had and I'd read them in the order of thinnest to thickest, or thickest to thinnest, or sometimes I'd read them in alphabetical order by title or by author - switch things up a bit. I might actually start doing that again as these days it takes me forever to choose which book to read next as I've heard incredible things about all the books and I NEVER know what to read next because every book always looks so good! I might restart that system again because it actually helped me choose what to read next. Eight-year-old Kyra, I admire you. 

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So, let's talk! How have your reading habits changed since you first started blogging? Can you relate to any of these? Let me know!
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Friday, 20 January 2017

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr was a suspenseful, chilling, moving novel

The One Memory of Flora BanksTitle: The One Memory of Flora Banks
Series: N/A
Author: Emily Barr
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publication: January 12th, 2017, Penguin
Pages: 303 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you to Penguin and LoveReading4Kids for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 4/5 cupcakes!
Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora's brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend's boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora's fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life. 
With little more than the words "be brave" inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must "be brave" if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home. 

This book was composed of unique and scintillating characters and a plot laden with suspense against a breathtaking backdrop of the Arctic's winter wonderland. This heart-warming story told through the eyes of an unreliable narrator makes The One Memory of Flora Banks a divine conglomeration of serendipitous journeys, mystery, and eccentricity that provides a thrilling literary experience.

My relationship with this book was tumultuous at first. I struggled to the story initially as the writing is very repetitive due to Flora's memory loss and the sentences were quite halted (perhaps to emphasize Flora's staccato thought process?). Hence I struggled to be immersed in the story for quite a while due to this reason but once I'd familiarised myself with the prose, man, I devoured it. It was the kind of book that completely engulfed me, time passed swiftly and by the time I looked up, I was over half way through the book and a blanket of darkness had replaced the final rays of sunlight – this book had me gripped and the last 200 pages had me feeling the whole spectrum of emotions. I grew to fall absolutely in love with this book so if you're struggling with the writing at first, persevere – it's worth it.

I absolutely adored the characters. Flora is a spectacularly memorable character, she almost always wears an oversized coat, carries a black stone in her pocket and writing covers her arms to remind her of all the things she needs to know. Her story will tear at your heartstrings – her willingness to chase adventure, pursue her dreams and forge a life for herself that many people think are impossible due to her condition makes her one of the bravest and determined female protagonists I've ever encountered. She was naïve and innocent which made me adore her even more because I feel as if 95% of YA heroines are incredibly savvy, confident and independent and it was fantastic becoming acquainted with a character that stands out among a sea of similar characters without even trying. I must mention, though, that even though I loved Flora, I couldn't connect to her 100% and I still don't feel as if I know enough about her. I felt as if there was a glittering ball of personality hidden inside her that she allowed me glimpses of, but she prevented it forever fully emerging (does that make sense? Probably not). I feel because she was so preoccupied writing notes, thinking of Drake and trying to remember I never felt like I learnt much about her. Her personality felt quite suppressed at times and I feel bad for saying that as after finishing the book I feel like she's a wonderful friend, but I did find her lacking slightly in personality for the majority of the novel. However, I can understand why the author made her be like that but I would've liked her to feel slightly more complex.

One character that I absolutely ADORED is Jacob, Flora's older brother who resides in Paris. He stole my heart and just thinking about his warm, charismatic personality and how brilliant he is, made me tear up. He was so caring, sassy, sweet and encouraging – an extraordinary older brother that would do anything to protect his sister whilst simultaneously allowing her the freedom to soar. He was the best. YAY for fantastic sister/brother relationships!

I liked Paige (Flora's best friend) by the end of the book but I was disappointed with her for basically abandoning Flora for something that she didn't have much control of. Even if my best friend did what Flora did, I would still be there for her. Always. I thought it was incredibly selfish of Paige to desert her but she redeemed herself by the end of the novel, which is always a good thing.

I loved how close Flora was to her parents and although I'm fortunate enough to not suffer from her condition, I do have severe anxiety which has made me very close to my parents and I do rely on them a lot, a lot more than your average seventeen years old which probably isn't a good thing, but hey – everyone's different, right? I loved that this book showed such a close child/parent relationship. I loved Flora's dad. He was so sweet and caring and did everything in his power to make Flora feel better! I'm not sure how I feel about Flora's mom, though. She has clearly been subjected to harsh trails and tribulations which led to her taking severe precautions when it came to Flora, precautions that I most definitely didn't agree with. Her mother could be quite stifling but I could understand why – fear and heartbreak had turned her into being perpetually terrified of something happening to Flora.

There was a host of other luminous characters found within these pages such as Toby and Agi! They were so supportive, caring and wonderful to Flora, yet they managed to perfectly care for her whilst simultaneously allowing her freedom on her journey. I absolutely adored them – they were wonderfully kind and they made my heart warm and fuzzy inside because they're good people and I loved how they handled Flora's condition.

I also feared that this book was going to be a romance novel where kissing a boy solves all the problems but that wasn't the case at all. In fact, there was very little actual romance in this novel. Flora did obsessively think of Drake for most of the book but I can understand why – wouldn't you be intent on finding the person who made you remember something after not being able to remember anything the past seven years? The repeated manta of Drake being the love of her life and needing to find him did feel slightly tedious in the beginning but once Flora reached the Arctic, I was more swept up in the description of the wondrous landscape and the trials she had to overcome whilst she was there to pay much attention to the continuous mention of Drake (who was such an idiot, I can't even). Although he was mentioned a lot, this isn't a love story. If anything, it was a breathtaking journey of self-discovery, pursuing your dreams and overcoming your fears. Flora managed so many incredible feats – it has inspired me to try doing the same.

There were two other things I loved about this novel: It's set in the Arctic (how freaking cool is that?! Very cool. Ha. Ha. See what I did there?) which I've never encountered in a book before and I also loved that Flora was an unreliable narrator as I haven't read many books that feature one! Although I found it quite confusing at times as Flora had her memory lapses and retreated into memories that she could remember from when she was younger, coating the story with a slightly hazy, surreal quality – I still liked it. It left me in suspense the entire way through the book and I felt gripped by an icy hand the entire way through – was that really what happened? Can she trust anyone around her? Chills scaled themselves up my spine on several occasions due to the deliciously subtle suspense.

Another thing that I must mention, is that The One Memory of Flora Banks is one of those books that will make you feel. I was gripped in anxiety and trepidation as I watched Flora navigating the world on her own and encountering things that would've given me ridiculously high levels of anxiety. It made me cry on more than one occasion (the hopelessness of Flora's situation, her incredible character growth and breathtaking journey to self-discovery also because of Jacob because I LOVE HIM), it made me smile and it made my heart warm and fuzzy inside – to see the kindness in people, Flora's strength, her strong relationship with her parents. This book tugged at my heartstrings and I love it for that.

The One Memory of Flora Banks is a spectacular story about an unforgettable character's extraordinary journey to the sublime Arctic in an attempt to find the boy who made her remember. But don't mistake this book for a magical, fluffy love story – it's a gritty look into the hardships of those living with amnesia, a dark insight into what grief and fear can turn us into, an atmosphere thick with suspense and mystery as a girl with a fur coat and letters to herself streaked down her arms stares her demons in the eyes and soars to the ethereal Norwegian landscape. I've never read a book quite like The One Memory of Flora Banks and I doubt I ever will. Utterly captivating.

I give it: 4/5 cupcakes

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Wednesday, 18 January 2017

What Light by Jay Asher wasn't the festive fun I was expecting

What LightTitle: What Light
Series: N/A
Author: Jay Asher
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publication: 20th October 2016, Macmillan's Children's Books
Pages: 256 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you to Pan Macmillan for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected my opinion.
Rating: 2/5 Cupcakes
Sierra's family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon - it's an idyllic place for a girl to grow up, except that every year they have to pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other. Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life begins to eclipse the other...

*Rant review*

This book. 

Hell's Kitchen reaction food fox nope

Where do I begin? Let me start off by saying that I love contemporaries, it's probably my favourite genre. I have read some incredible contemporaries that made me cry and laugh and think and feel...this was not one of those books. Maybe it was me, maybe it was the book but all I know is that reading this book was as enjoyable as watching paint dry.

What Light is about Sierra who helps her parents run a Christmas tree farm in Oregon. However, they spend every December in California in order to configure their Christmas tree lot. Every December Sierra misses spending the festive holiday with her two best friends back in Oregon, but there's a silver lining as she gets to spend time with her other best friend, Heather. This Christmas is different. She meets a boy called Caleb, with dimples and messy hair and a heart of gold, however, Sierra soon hears of the rumours circulating about Caleb's dark past and she asks herself whether or not it's worth risking her happy, secure heart for a boy she might not see once the 25th has come and gone.

I struggled with this book from the very first chapter. Not once during this book was I filled with a compulsion to keep turning the pages, I forced myself through it and once I had put it down I has no desire to pick it up. I probably should've listened to myself and DNFed it but I am an eternal optimist when it comes to books, so I persevered, hoping that it would get better.

Spoiler alert: It didn't.

The first thing I'll start off by saying is that this book is dull. Mind-numbingly dull. I kept waiting and waiting for something to happen but NOTHING HAPPENED. The book consisted of Sierra swooning over Caleb's dimples, waffling on about Christmas trees, making hot chocolate, eating out/delivering trees with Caleb and being a useless friend. It all merged together into a structured routine, there was never any spontaneity or originality and I found it so utterly boring reading about Sierra going through the same motions every. Single. Day. Perhaps it was due to this rigid routine that denied me of the chance to feel anything whilst reading What Light - I wasn't excited, I wasn't filled with sadness, happiness (there was one occasion where Heather said something funny and I laughed but that's as good as it got), fear, apprehension...nothing. I read this entire book with a blank face, it was so very meh


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Perhaps the reason I felt nothing whilst reading this book because there was no plot, no climax (I lie, there was a small climax but I barely noticed there was one because it was so dull), the characters were so incredibly boring and two dimensional that I just couldn't bring myself to care for them because all they were, were names on a paper. Most books I read, the characters feel like people I've known for years, people who I could call up at any given time, they feel real...these did not.

Moving on to the characters. Sierra was very bland, as were her parents and her friends. Caleb had potential but I couldn't quite get past the way his situation was handled. Sierra was a nice enough character. She was clever, quiet, sweet...but she seemed too perfect, hence I found her quite boring. She didn't have any flaws or any characteristics that made her feel real. Also, she completely ditched one of her best friend's shows she was acting in which meant a lot to the friend for a guy she's been hanging out with for two weeks. THAT'S NOT NICE, SIERRA. NOT NICE AT ALL. Also, I found her way too accepting and trusting of Caleb. He had gone after his sister with a knife (Not a spoiler as it's mentioned early on in the book). If I had heard rumours of such a severe nature about a guy I'd just met I'd be quite hesitant but after hearing the quite worrying rumour that turned out to be true, it made her like him even more...UM, WHAT?! WHO RESPONDS LIKE THAT?! Never once did she thoroughly question it or find it disturbing and I don't think that's a normal reaction. I feel like the author was trying to paint a saccharine sweet holiday romance and completely disregarded normal human reactions to several things. Maybe it was to infuse the book with an extra dose of Christmas spirit by having Sierra be so forgiving but I just...could not quite understand how she didn't find it all that worrying, especially as she barely knew him. 

Then there was Caleb who I never found myself growing attached to. I mean, I felt sorry for him and I feel like I could've liked him more if I had known more about him as a character before being told his rumour as that might have made me understand everything more. I could see he still harboured a lot of guilt and self-loathing which could have devastating consequences later on and it just felt like his negative emotions were never dealt with, it almost seemed as if the author was veering on him finding validation by Sierra choosing to date him and that didn't sit well with me. I don't think the author should've downplayed the lasting emotional impact his actions would've had on him and his sister. But maybe that's just me.

I also didn't really form any connection with Sierra's friends. They weren't actually a huge part of the book and I didn't see much of them or learn a lot about them, they felt like filler characters, just there in order to add a bit more bustle to the story. I also found it bad how it was potentially Heather and Sierra's last Christmas together yet they rarely saw each other and spent most of their time with their boyfriends. The former who was probably going to break up with hers in the new year and the latter with a guy she'd just met. One of my major pet peeves, in literature and reality, is when friends ditch their best friends for new, cooler friends or a guy who they barely know and don't mean all that much to them. YOU DON'T DO THAT.

Then there were Sierra's parents who never let the boys working on the farm talk to her otherwise her dad forced them to clean the outhouses which I thought was taking the overprotective dad thing a bit far. BUT then - even though they express their concerns over her dating Caleb - they don't really make an effort to deter her from seeing him and they're just like "We trust you" and it just didn't make sense. You trust her with Caleb but not any of the other guys who seemed perfectly nice?
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Then there was Caleb and Sierra's relationship. It didn't make me feel ~all the feels~, I didn't feel the chemistry and I found it as vapid as the rest of the novel.

HOWEVER, there were two positives! This book definitely felt Christmassy, the atmosphere of the book was perfectly festive and there were also a few witty one-liners that had me smiling. However, that didn't make up for the rest of the book, unfortunately.

What Light could've been the perfect Christmassy read, however, I personally found it insipid and slightly unrealistic. Maybe that was just me, though.

I give it: 2/5 cupcakes



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Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Top Ten Underrated Books I've Read That Not Enough People Squawk About


Hello everybody!

I hope you're having a marvellous day so far! 

I'm SO excited for this prompt as there are many, many books I've read that deserve all the love but BARELY ANYBODY HAS READ THEM AND IT BREAKS MY POOR LITTLE BOOKISH HEART. SO, now is the perfect opportunity to force persuade you to read these books. ARE YOU EXCITED? You should be.

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The Darkest Part of the ForestThe Last Summer of UsThe Rain (The Rain, #1)

WHY DO NOT ENOUGH PEOPLE TALK ABOUT THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST?? It has gorgeously morbid writing and fierce but broken characters and it's got that quaint fairytale vibe with a sadistic twist and EVERYONE NEEDS IT IN THEIR LIFE. 

The Last Summer of Us features a girl (who is recovering from the death of a loved one), not one but two boys (who gloriously contrast with another), a summer road trip through Wales, saying goodbye and starting anew - ALSO, THERE'S NO LOVE TRIANGLE. There is a subtle romance but NO LOVE TRIANGLE. Do you know how rare it is for a book to contain a girl and two guys and not have a love triangle? Super rare. Go read it now. Because rare.

The Rain is wonderful (it feels slightly sacrilegious to say that as there's a killer virus in the rain and pretty much everyone dies but we'll roll with it) - Ruby is your typical teenage girl trying to navigate an apocalypse. She's 100% snarky, pretty selfish and self-centred but she's a flawed character you can't help but love. Also, there's an adorable guy who feels like a real teenage boy and not the perfect specimens that fictional boys often are so YAY for realism. I think that's what made The Rain even more terrifying is how real everyone felt and how realistic everything is, it felt like the rain outside my window was poisoned which was scary but good too? NOT BECAUSE IT'S POISONED, but because the book made it feel like it could potentially be? Which is always a sign of good storytelling, right?

Radio SilenceUnrivaled (Beautiful Idols #1)White Cat (Curse Workers, #1)Talon (Talon, #1)

Radio Silence was one of the best books I read last year and NOT ENOUGH PEOPLE HAVE READ IT. It's a diverse book (asexuality, bisexuality, POC characters), the characters are so relatable and so adorable. They're shy and quirky and wear patterned leggings and create fan art and have Tumblr blogs and I HAVE A SUDDEN YEARNING TO REREAD IT BECAUSE SO FREAKING GOOD.

I was so excited to read Unrivaled when I received an arc of it last year! I'd read one other Alyson Noel book (Fated, I think) AND I LOVED IT. So when this came in the post with the pretty cover and the intriguing synopsis my expectations were high and you know what - IT BLEW MY (already high) EXPECTATIONS OUT OF THE WATER. Like guys, I loved this book. And the ending was a TOTAL cliffhanger and there was this air of suspense the entire way through and the characters were all backstabbers and liars because they'd do anything to get to the top and IT WAS SO INTRIGUING. READ IT.

I feel like nobody (except Cait who actually recommended these on her blog - THANKS, CAIT) has read these and when I mention it people are like "The Curseworkers series, the one you drone on and on about constantly but I never take in what you're saying? What are they about, again?". WELL, SIT DOWN AND LET ME SUM IT UP FOR YOU. Mafia. Magic. Cons. Mobsters. Mobsters who curse people with the touch of a hand. Snazzy gloves. Dysfunctional families. Cats. A tortured cinnamon roll of a main character who was born to be bad but who so badly wants to be good. IF THAT DOESN'T SELL YOU, THEN I DON'T KNOW WHAT WILL.

The Moonlight DreamersLove SongMore of Me

THESE BOOKS. WHY HAVEN'T MORE PEOPLE READ THEM?? The Moonlight Dreamers was incredible and I feel like rereading it all of a sudden because good golly that book is incredible! The characters are so unique and complex and so real that I feel like they're my friends. I genuinely felt like I had four new best friends once I had closed the book - ISN'T THAT THE BEST FEELING EVER?! Yes, I agree with me too.

Love Song was SO ADORABLE. At first, I was worried that I wouldn't like it as I've never really understood the obsession with bands like One Direction and 5SOS but LSKJLGJS it was so good. The romance was SO cute and the main character was SO relatable and it was SO FUN getting an inside look on how the other half lives. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

More of Me...that book frikkin' broke my heart. I was sitting in the lounge and I turned the last few pages of the book and I started bawling my eyes out and my parents were like "Are you okay?" and I was like:

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I'll probably never recover. BUT GUYS. READ IT. It's about this girl Teva and every year (as she gets older) she splits in two, leaving her younger self behind. So the house they live in is filled with ten other Tevas (I think this started when she was 5) and the latest Teva has to go into the real world and live her life whilst the others stay at home, forever the same age, forever living behind four walls. IT'S HEARTBREAKING AND CREEPY AND WONDERFULLY WEIRD AND PLEASE GO READ IT.

These are my top ten (wow, I actually put only ten books for a change - miracles do happen, I guess) books that I feel are severely underrated and EVERYONE MUST KNOW OF THEIR BRILLIANCE. Have you read these?? PLEASE TELL ME YOU HAVE SO WE CAN FANGIRL. If not, are there any of these that you want to read but haven't got to yet? What's one book that you've read that not enough people know and love? RECOMMEND ME ALL THE BOOKS.
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Monday, 16 January 2017

What I've Been Reading #12


HELLO EVERYBODY!

I hope you all had a lovely weekend! I spent mine studying (bleh) and reading so it wasn't too bad (except for the studying because maths, ew). 

Also, random piece of information, but I'm really pleased with myself because today is my 12th day without chocolate! WHO EVEN AM I?! I wanted to reduce my sugar intake as I eat a lot of chocolate so I'm trying to go 2-3 weeks without it because I think it's more of a habit than anything else BUT MY RESISTANCE IS WAVERING OMG HELP. 

I'm also super happy because yesterday I had the best workout. I did abs, legs, and arms and I really enjoyed it. LIKE I ACTUALLY ENJOYED WORKING OUT?? I didn't know such a thing was possible but apparently it is! You guys probably didn't need to know this but I'm super proud of myself so I thought I'd like flail about it on my blog because why not?

So my resolution to be healthier this year is going pretty well! Now I just need to focus on getting to sleep earlier (I have miserably failed at that) and meditating more. I've really been struggling with stress and anxiety the past few weeks and I've definitely found, that in the past, meditation works wonders! 

I managed to read 2 books this past week which I'm quite proud of as I've been drowning in school work! I'm just doing maths at the moment as there are three textbooks I have to complete and IT'S SO MUCH WORK. But I'll survive. *sips chamomile tea and tries not to panic about exams and school and life in general*

Unmarked (The Legion, #2)The One Memory of Flora Banks

Unmarked by Kami Garcia ⭐⭐⭐⭐ | The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr 

I really enjoyed both of these! I LOVED Unbreakable (Unmarked's predecessor) so when my reservation for Unmarked came in I nearly died of excitement. I really enjoyed it but not nearly as much as I loved the first book. There were a few plot twists that left me with my jaw on the floor so YAY FOR PLOT TWISTS. 

I also read The One Memory of Flora Banks which I was highly anticipating and although it started out slow and I wasn't in love the first 100 pages or so, after that I devoured it. It was suspenseful and heart-wrenching and I highly recommend it!

As I've just finished TOMOFB I'm not reading anything yet but...

 
A Girl Called Owl

I'll be reading this next! I'm trying to read my arcs in a more timely fashion (also failing that so far this year BUT I'm trying, peoples, I'm trying) and as this one is coming out in ten days, I'll be reading this next! It's sounds adorable and LOOK AT THAT COVER. I am muchly excited. 

I might go write my review for The One Memory of Flora Banks now but...I kind of feel like playing Sims. I haven't played it in months and it's time, guys, it's time...to go on a four-day binge of nothing but Sims because that's the only way to play, right?

How's your week been? What are you planning on reading this week?
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Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Make sure ...And a Happy New Year? by Holly Bourne is one of your first reads of 2017!

...And a Happy New Year? (The Spinster Club, #3.5)Title: ...And a Happy New Year?
Series: The Spinster Club #3.5
Author: Holly Bourne
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publication: November 1st, 2016, Usborne Publishing
Pages: 224 Pages, Hardcover
Source: Thank you to Usborne Publishing for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 4/5 Cupcakes!
Evie, Amber and Lottie are having a new year party to remember.
For the first time since leaving college, all three girls are back together. It's time for fun and flirting, snogs and shots.
(And not tears or tantrums or terrible secrets)
Because everything's going great for these girls - Spinster Club for ever! Right?


THIS BOOK. MY FEELINGS. I absolutely adore the Spinster Club novels and this book was no exception. Whenever I read one of the books I feel as if I'm being welcomed by old friends. I don't think I've ever read a book where the characters feel so real, whereby merely referring to them as characters feel like sacrilege of sorts. I absolutely adored being reunited with Evie, Amber, and Lottie but it was a bitter-sweet moment as I knew this was the last Spinster Club novel and I wasn't ready to let go. At all. 

This book tore at my heartstrings for several reasons besides it being the last time I get to spend with my favourite fictional friends (*cries forever*). The characters are more grown up, they've changed and gone their separate ways, the result being a new small, but still noticeable distance, between them emotionally. They're not the same people they were in the previous novels and they're all doing their best to adjust to a life that isn't turning out how they expected it to. 

Lottie is struggling to make friends at her London university, she's branded a feminazi and is finding it difficult to make friends like Evie and Amber, who accept her for her ranting, zealous self. Evie's recovery from her OCD is going brilliantly and she's loving her university experience and the societies she's joined and the friends she's made...however, Oli has relapsed so severely to the point where he can't even leave his house and Evie's struggling with it. She wants to experience the freedom that has been returned to her after reaching a sense of normality, however, she doesn't want to abandon Oli as he's going through this difficult time and she's weighed down with guilt for wanting to go out when he's at home being tormented by the thoughts in his head and she's laden with more guilt for all the bad thoughts swirling around her head. Amber has a secret to tell the girls but she knows it's going to tear them apart - it doesn't help that they're all masquerading happiness and success and not telling each other all the darkness and uncertainty beginning to creep into their lives. 

I think what I love most about these books is the girls' incredible friendship and I love how this book emphasised how a genuine friendship like theirs can make the darkest of days seem a little brighter. I love how supportive and caring and understanding they are with each other, especially when it comes to Evie's anxiety. I wish there were more people like Lottie and Amber as they're so incredibly thoughtful and understanding and I wish more people were as willing to understand mental health as those two. Seriously, though, the friendship in this book is incredible and I loved how Holly showed that even though a friendship is so strong and full of love, it can also experience low moments but that if you truly love those in your friendship group, you make it work, even when it seems like everything is going against you.

Once again, I loved the characters so. freaking. much. Especially Evie because I just relate so hard. There were so many thoughts echoing through Evie's head that had me practically weeping because Holly Bourne gets it. She gets anxiety and if you struggle with an anxiety disorder, you'll know how much it means to see yourself in a character because it's a much-needed reminder that this is okay and that we're not alone. As I was saying, I love the characters. I love how kind, caring and understanding Evie is and I love how she's a stellar example of how even terrible things like an anxiety disorder can have a silver lining - in this case, turning you into a wonderfully compassionate human being. I love how brave Evie is and she gives me hope that I'll one day reach a point where I'm nearly fully recovered. I love how this book still showed that she's working on it and that the journey to recovery is pretty much a continuous thing. I've read so many books where a romantic relationship heals everything and I'm so glad that this series doesn't sugar coat mental health and the recovery process. Thank you, truly.

I adored Lottie and Amber as well, of course. I feel like Amber has become so much more confident and self-assured and it's lovely seeing that! It was quite unsettling seeing Lottie so upset and lonely and I felt so sorry for her because we've all been in a place where we feel secluded and unwanted and I just wanted to help Lottie through the loneliness she was experiencing. It was so lovely when she was reunited with Evie and Amber as you could see the positive impact they had on her and it just made my heart SO HAPPY.

I won't say too much on the romances featured in the book as it might be considered spoilery. But I'll just say I was a little sad and a little mad at one of the guy characters because reasons.

...And a Happy New Year? was a bittersweet but perfect ending to a brilliant series that means the world to me. The Spinster Club will forever hold a special place in my heart, it made me laugh and it made me cry and it made me realise that I was normal and I wasn't alone in facing the battles inside my head. Filled with feminism, the terror of growing up and evolving into a person you don't particularly recognise anymore, friendships that are once in a lifetime and an accurate portrayal of not only the trials and tribulations of becoming an adult, life turning out in a way you weren't expecting but also a genuine, brutal look into the thoughts of someone with an anxiety disorder. This series is so genuine and refreshing and so beautifully relatable, I will love it forever.

I give it: 4.5/5 Cupcakes!



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Tuesday, 10 January 2017

2016 Releases I Didn't Manage to Get To Because I Was Busy Reading All the Other 2016 Releases (so many books omg help)


Hello everybody!

I hope you're having a great week so far! 

I'm really excited to write this post as I know it will make me super amped to read all the fantastic books I missed getting to last year. However, I'm also ashamed by this post because there are so many amazing books I didn't get to last year, which makes my heart sad. BUT I'll be sure to get to these in 2017!

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes, #2)Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices, #1)Truthwitch (The Witchlands, #1)

I know, I can't believe I haven't read A Court of Mist and Fury and Lady Midnight yet either, WHO EVEN AM I? These two are definitely top-priority reads for 2017! I adored ACOTAR and I LOVE Cassandra Clare's books so I have no idea why I haven't gotten around to reading them yet. I bought a copy of Truthwitch a few months ago and I think now that Windwitch is out I'll bump it up my TBR pile. A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT, AKSLHFKA. I still haven't got me a copy but it's my birthday next month so...😉

Ruined (Ruined, #1)Stealing Snow (Stealing Snow, #1)When We CollidedThe Sun Is Also a Star

Ruined sounds amazing. When I first heard of it I was like "eh" but then I started hearing stellar reviews from book bloggers whose opinions are similar to mine and I was completely convinced that I needed it in my life. Stealing Snow, When We Collided and The Sun is Also a Star are sitting on my bookshelf/Kindle and I'M SO EXCITED TO READ THEM. I love love love contemporaries so I'm super excited to read When We Collided and The Sun is Also a Star, especially seeing as I loved Nicola Yoon's debut.

The Unexpected EverythingMy Lady JaneThe Forbidden Wish (The Forbidden Wish, #1)Walk the Edge (Thunder Road, #2)

LOOK AT THE CUTE DOGGIES. Seriously, that cover had me sold. I LOVE DOGS. Ahem. Besides that, I've also heard brilliant things about Morgan Matson's books so I'll definitely be buying a copy of The Unexpected Everything soon - it's definitely on my spring/summer TBR! I've heard endless good things about My Lady Jane - historical fiction, magic and humor, yes please. The Forbidden Wish sounds so good and can we just admire that cover for a second? Look at it, it's beautiful. Walk the Edge - I need to read. Katie McGarry's books are absolutely incredible and she's definitely at the top of my favourite YA contemporary authors list!  

The Diabolic (The Diabolic, #1)Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle, #1)You Were HereConsider (Holo, #1)

The Diabolic sounds incredible, it takes place in space, there's politics and apparently a cute romance and IT SOUNDS AMAZING. Nevernight (askljhgks), after reading Illuminae and Gemina a few months ago I need to read everything Jay Kristoff writes. You Were Here sounds like such a heartbreaking contemporary and you know how I love those (kind of. I read The Serpent King last week which is the epitome of heartbreaking and I still haven't recovered. I love them but I also don't because MY HEART), so I need that book in my life yes, please and thank you. Consider is a science fiction but the main character has an anxiety disorder!!! I'VE WAITED FIFTY YEARS FOR THIS. Most of the time mental illness is featured in contemporary books and I've always wondered about how a character with severe anxiety would handle things if they lived in a dystopian/sci-fi/fantasy world because I know I wouldn't cope very well (normal life is scary enough, thank you very much) so yes, I need this book.

Wow! So many brilliant books...that I still haven't got to. But I'll definitely try reading most of these this year! 

Did any of these books make your list? Which 2016 release are you making sure to get to this year? Are you as bad as me with keeping up with the new releases? Let's talk!
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