Thursday, April 16, 2020

Matched by Ally Condie | #magicalreadathon2020

Matched (Matched, #1)Matched by Ally Condie
Pages: 366
Release Date: November 30, 2010
Rating: 💜💜💜💜
Buy it: Amazon | Book Depository

In Cassia's society, Officials decide who people love. How many children they have. Where they work. When they die.
But, as Cassia finds herself falling in love with a boy who isn't her match, she is determined to make some choices of her own. And that's when her whole world begins to unravel...

Read to complete the prompt: read a book that starts with an 'M'

Okay so as the world is crashing and burning around us, my brain automatically turns to dystopian romances as a way to deal with it all. Trust me, I don't understand it either. 

This book came out a long time ago. I was thinking about this earlier, but it has only just occurred to me that when this book came out my brother wasn't even in nursery yet and now he is almost in his second year high school There's late to the party and then there's whatever I am with this book. This might have worked in my favour, because it meant I wasn't still caught up in the dystopia craze of the early 2010's. Nowadays I only read one dystopian series a year, so whenever I do read a new dystopia novel it feels a little more unique, but I can definitely see why people think this novel is just a rehash of some other books (I've included a list of the books it reminded me of at the end of this review).

First of all, the characters in this story all felt so 3D and multi-layered that it was kind of surprising to me. You could definitely see that Ally Condie had spent a portion of time developing each character, giving them hidden complexities that we slowly get shown throughout the novel. In the case of personalities, Condie utilises the phrase 'show not tell' which makes the story more captivating. I have read a couple of reviews since finishing the book and I saw that most people hated the characters (found them annoying, one-dimensional etc...) but I really loved them. If I were to be perfectly honest I enjoyed reading about the secondary characters more than Cassia and Ky, purely because they had a little more depth to them. However, this cast of characters was one of the more well developed ones that I've seen in a 2010 dystopian book and I genuinely loved them all.

Next, the love triangle! A lot of people hate love triangles but honestly I'm not mad about them, and this one was really great. It reminded me a lot of the love triangle in the Infernal Devices series, especially because I wanted Cassia to end up with both of the love interests and if it had gone either way I would have been happy.  It is very clear who she is going to end up with (we don't need three books to figure that out) but there was a sense of competition between the main love interests that still kept the triangle alive. I would like to say if you don't love triangles don't read this book. Although there is the beginnings of a subplot of anarchy and taking down society (!) this book heavily focuses on the relationships shared between Cassia, Ky and Xander.

Admittedly, the writing style was quite basic and the plot did seem to jump around a little, but it honestly didn't bother me at all. Much in the same way that the Selection series is a fun story, this has the 'fluffy writing with a little bit of drama to keep you gripped' structure. The focus was placed on the romance, with action happening around it that hardly affects the main character's desire to end up with the boy she loves, giving it high-stake Bachelor vibes. As result, the descriptions of the place they live and the activities they are partake in is basic, giving you the bare bones of what you need to be able to place yourself in the story. 

If you like character driven stories then this book will be for you. Not a lot happens throughout the book, but we spend so much time learning about Cassia and her world that it kept me hooked. The story was entertaining and despite the fact that many people seem to hate this book (seriously, have a look at the Goodreads page) I had a fun time and am looking forward to carrying on with the series.

Bonus section of books this one reminded me of:

- The Giver
- The Selection
- Wither
- Legend
- Delirium
- Uglies

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Books I loved but haven't mentioned since | Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Enjoyed but Rarely Talk About

Doing this post made me realise that I really don't hype up my favourite books very much after I've read them. The only time I talk about books is when people ask me for recommendations, so it is actually quite rare that I will talk about books I love (which makes me quite sad). I would love to talk about my favs more, so maybe I'll do a post about them in the future. Who knows?

Today I'll share some of the books that I constantly think about but very rarely talk about. They're not necessarily my favourite books, but they are books that have stuck with me over the years.

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow
Book Depository | Goodreads

This book acts as the definition of hard-hitting contemporary and definitely caused me to fall into a bit of a reading slump afterwards. The story was beautiful and it has some of the best mental health representation that I have ever read.

The List by Siobhan Vivian

I read this with my friend and we both agreed that it is one of the weirdest but best books that we've ever read. It tackles the problems high schoolers face when considering body positivity in a very different way than most YA books do, so it was refreshing to get this new take. Be warned: I think there are 7 different POVs so prepare for that!

Faceless by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

This might be one of my favourite books of all time but I very rarely talk about. It's another one about loving yourself and coming to terms with your appearance, but it also focuses on learning about who you are after a tragic event. I read this book 3 years ago and the story has stuck with me.

The Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant

I've always gone on record (that sounds very official) saying that Michael Grant is my favourite author of all time but that is usually in relation to the Gone series (which is my favourite series of all time). However, I also love this book by him and it holds a special place in my heart because I got to attend a launch party for it and meet Michael Grant in person.

How to be Happy by Eva Woods

I'll put my hands up and admit that this book is a little cliche, following a woman who has a cancer and a woman who doesn't have any fun in life. Despite the cliches, it was a beautiful story and left me feeling so emotional by the end. I love stories that deal with mortality but also looks at how people can change their own narrative, so this book was perfect for me.

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

I went into this book not expecting to enjoy it at all, as I'm not really a fan of sci-fi and I'd read Lauren James's other books and not enjoyed them. Surprisingly, I flew through this book (reading it in one day) and it has stuck as one of my favourites of all time. It has even motivated me to read more sci-fi over the last few years (although I think I've only actually read 3-4 more since then)!

The Enemy by Charlie Higson

This series might be tied with the Gone series as my favourite series of all time, although that might be linked to the fact that I read the first four books in the Austrian mountains (which was one of the best holidays I've ever had). This book is the first in the series but I think it's my favourite regardless because it sets the tone for the series and drew me in enough to read the other 6 (!) books.

One Day by David Nicholls

Not only is the film a brilliant adaptation of this novel but the story itself is absolutely wonderful. This is one of those cute romances that shocks you no matter how many times you reread it and will forever hold a special place in my heart. It was one of the first adult books I ever read but I don't think I've ever mentioned it, despite my love for the book.

Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index by Julie Israel

Admittedly I only picked up this book because of its beautiful cover but the story itself is also very beautiful. It tackles grief and acceptance in kind of a similar way to Faceless

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel

Maybe not the best read for right now but when I read this book I fell in love with the idea of a travelling Shakespeare group that was just trying to get by about a virus had destroyed the planet. In general I've loved all of Mandel's novels

What books have you loved recently? Have you read any of the books on my list?
Let me know in the comments below (and leave a link to your TTT)!

And until next time, keep reading!

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Is the book better than the movie? | Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Bought Because...

So fun fact about me as a reader: I don't really get affected by the hype of the bookish community. Sure, I have got into a couple of series because it was all I heard about but for the most part I just pick up books when I feel like it. I'm not saying I don't read hyped books (because trust me, my shelves have a lot of YA dystopian on them), it's just that I usually only pick up books when I feel like it.

However...I do get hugely affected by the movies and TV shows I watch, namely the ones that are adaptations. I could not be interested in a book at all but as soon as I see the movie version it is all I can think about. I'm not one of those people who has to read the book before I watch the movie, but I do like to do both and then compare. Which has led to some questionable purchases and a lot of unread books.

Today I thought I'd share the top 10 books that I have because I liked the movie and  wanted to see if the book was just as good. And, just to shame myself, I'm going to say if I've read it yet... This may reflect badly on me.

1- Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday

I watched this film last year and really loved it, so when I saw the book in one of my local charity shops I jumped at the opportunity to buy it and give it a read. That was maybe 7 months ago and I still haven't read it but I promise I'll get to it (some day)! 

2- The Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

I think a lot of English children can tell you that this film was part of their childhood, whether it was because they loved it or because so many primary schools put it on for the children to watch when it is raining during lunchtime. Since watching the film I have managed to collect three copies of not only this book but the entire series

3- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

When this book was being turned into a film I snatched up a copy of it from my local charity shop so I could read it before watching the film and I can proudly say that I neither read the book nor watched the film. I actually think my brother has stolen this from me so I might have to go get it back from him and read it.

4- Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda by Becky Abertalli

Another book that I picked up because I wanted to read it before the film came out, but I've actually read this one! I really enjoyed this book, although I'm pretty easy to please when it comes to YA contemporary, but for some reason I never got around to watching the film. Honestly, I don't understand my brain sometimes.

5- The DUFF by Kody Kieplinger

This is the first one on my list where I've experienced both the book and the movie so I can actually comment on both! Personally I enjoyed the movie a lot more than the book but that could be because the book was written by an 18 year old, which always spells trouble. Fortunately I still enjoy the movie so I still have a cheesy movie to watch when I'm ill.

6- The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

So this one is kind of weird because I bought the book because of the movie but not because I enjoyed it... Basically I saw the movie everywhere and thought it sounded kind of interesting, but I wasn't super amped to watch. Then...I discovered the book and decided I wanted to read it. 
Have I? No. Am I ashamed of that? No.
(also I really want to read it at the moment but it's at my place in Amsterdam and I've had to go home until all the isolation stuff blows over so I might not be able to read it for months :/ )

7- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky

Another one where I've read the book and watched the film but this time I couldn't tell you which one I enjoyed more. I can't even remember which one I experienced first but I enjoyed both of them so much, and I think they've shaped me as a human. One of my favs, would recommend, next!

8-  Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

I watched the film as a child and really enjoyed it so when my school library was clearing out their books I snatched it up to read it. However I have not read this book and I recently unhauled it because I don't think I'm ever going to get to it. Maybe I'll read it to my kids in the future, but for now there are other books I want to read, and I'm happy just living with the film version.

9- The Princess Bride by William Goldman

A classic film that is part of so many people's childhoods, I have a gorgeous edition of this book that I'm actually really excited to read the book. Most people know the story of this book but I think it would be interesting to see how different the book is from the film that we know and love.

10- Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Yes, I am that basic person who loved this musical so bought the book even though it is over 1000 pages. Not only have I seen the film, I've also watched the BBC TV series, read the manga and listened to the musical version about 100 times. And I am proud to announce that I'm currently about 16 pages into the book so we're getting there! (pray for me)

Which books have you read because of the film? Are any of them on my list?
Let me know in the comments below (and leave a link to your TTT)!

And until next time, keep reading!

Friday, April 3, 2020

Vincent by Barbara Stok | Review

Image result for vincent by barbara stokVincent by Barbara Stok 
Pages: 142
Release Date: 2012
Rating: 💜💜💜💜
Buy it: Amazon | Book Depository
Away from Paris, Van Gogh falls in love with the landscape of the south of France and dreams of setting up an artists' studio for him and his friends to paint together. But attacks of mental illness leave the painter confused and disorientated. When his friend and fellow artist Paul Gauguin refuses to reside permanently at the Yellow House, Van Gogh's dreams are left in tatters. However, throughout this period of intense emotion and hardship, Vincent's brother Theo stands by him, offering constant support.

Read to complete the Magical Readathon 2020 prompt: read a book under 150 pages

I love Vincent Van Gogh. When I was 5 my mum took me to a museum in London where I saw one of his many Sunflower paintings and I was absolutely mesmerised. Something about his art just caught my attention and now I have become slightly obsessive about his life and all the work that he has produced.

When I saw this book I knew that I had to read it, but I wasn't sure if I was willing to spen€15 on a book I was going to read very fast and probably only once. Luckily, this pandemic kicked off so I had the very valid excuse of avoiding boredom whilst everything around us shuts down. And I'm so glad that I decided to pick it up.

First of all, the story. The story is a mixture of plain picture boxes, conversations Vincent had with people and letters that he sent to Theo (his younger brother) which created a very interesting narrative. This biography tells the reader the story of Vincent from when he moves to France for his health, all the way through his manic breakdown, and ends with him moving back North. Of course there is some artistic license taken, as the conversations Vincent had with people can't be truly known by us these days, but the general story sticks very close to the knowledge we have of Vincent today. The interspersion of his letters to Theo added context to his life, and it was interesting to see how his relationship with his brother shifted as his mental health declined.

The art style of this book is gorgeous. Barbara Stok's art style was an excellent choice for Vincent's life story as she perfectly captured the whimsical nature of his artwork and even used it to portray Vincent's own life. My favourite part of her style was how she displayed Vincent's breakdown, as the panels become more vivid and manic the further he falls.

I don't think you have to be a fan of Vincent's work to enjoy this book. Obviously you'd be more inclined to pick up the novel if you have an interest in him, but this graphic novel is just so beautiful that I think anyone could enjoy it. The artwork is gorgeous, the story is fun and it is short enough that it wouldn't take long to get through. I'm so happy to have added it to my collection and I know for certain that I will be picking it up again in the near future.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Back with the books I'm going to read | April TBR | #Magical Readathon 2020

With all the craziness of everything that is going on I think we all need a little bit more magic in our lives, so its the perfect time to join in with the OWLS magical readathon. This is a Harry Potter themed readathon that is hosted by Book Roast and takes place throughout the month of April (so it technically started yesterday but I'm always late to everything).

This readathon is super fun, and I've participated in it a couple of times before, but there is quite a lot of material to read and watch so I'll leave the links to the announcement video and the main website here. 

I decided to go for the Care of Magical Children career before I realised how many books I'll have to read this month (8 books!) but I figured I'd give it a shot considering I've got so much free time. 

Now onto the prompts!

Arithmancy: read something outside your favourite genre
                  -->  The Husband's Secret by Laine Moriarty

Charms: white cover
               --> Matched by Ally Condie

Defence against the Dark Arts: book set at sea / the coast
               --> Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Herbology: title that starts with an M
                -->  Moranthology by Caitlin Moran 

History of Magic: book featuring witches / wizards
                 --> The Magician's Guild by Trudi Canavan

Potions: Book under 150 pages
              --> Vincent by Barbara Stok

Transfiguration: book that includes shape-shifting
              --> The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

Are you taking part in the OWLs? What career have you picked? And have you read any of the books on my list? Let me know in the comments below!

And until next time, keep reading!

Thursday, December 5, 2019

December TBR

I know this post is a little late, but I've finally managed to figure out which books I want to read for the last month of not only the year, but also the decade. I decided not to put too much pressure on picking the 'right' book for the end of the year and to just read fun books that will make me feel warm inside during possibly the coldest of winter months.

Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan
Book DepositoryGoodreads
The Cosy Christmas Chocolate Shop by Caroline Roberts
Book DepositoryGoodreads
Calling Mrs Christmas by Carole Matthews
Book DepositoryGoodreads
The Chocolate Lovers Christmas by Carole Matthews
Book DepositoryGoodreads
Christmas on the Little Cornish Isles by Phillipa Ashley
Book DepositoryGoodreads

I'm also taking part in the Winter Harry Potter Readathon (link here) but you don't get all the prompts at the start of the month (you kind of work through the prompts, it's really cool), so I can only tell you the first book that I've chosen which is:

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
Book DepositoryGoodreads

What are you reading this month? Are you reading any Christmassy books?
Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time, keep reading!

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Favourite Christmas books I've read in my life

Top Ten Tuesday: Holiday Reads

I love reading Christmas books in the build up to Christmas Day, reading four or five every December. For me, Christmas books are what Christmas movies are to most people: a way to get excited about the Christmas season whilst feeling warm and cosy inside. As a result, I have read a huge amount of Christmas books in my life and I have decided to use this prompt to list my favourites (so far).

This list is in no way ordered because I love all of them equally!

Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle
Book Depository # Goodreads

Angels at the Table by Debbie Macomber
Book DepositoryGoodreads
The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily by David Leviathan and Rachel Cohn
Book DepositoryGoodreads

Christmas at the Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan
Book DepositoryGoodreads

...And a Happy New Year? by Holly Bourne
Book DepositoryGoodreads

Mistletoe and Murder by Robin Stevens
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My True Love Gave To Me edited by Stephanie Perkins
Book DepositoryGoodreads

And obviously... How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr Seuss
Book DepositoryGoodreads

Do you read certain books at certain times of the year? Have you read any of these books?
Let me know in the comments below!

And until next time, keep reading!