Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Review | By Your Side by Kasie West

Image and video hosting by TinyPicBy Your Side by Kasie West
Published On: January 31, 2017
Published By: HarperTeen
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 346
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★★★

Amazon | Goodreads

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her. 
Only he doesn’t come. No one does. 
Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

Oh Kasie West, I do love you! I make no secret of the fact Kasie West is one of my favourite authors. I have loved every book I have read from her and, of course, this one was no exception. By Your Side fully lived up to the usual standards of her books and definitely met my expectations. I wouldn't say this was my favourite of her books but it is up there.

All I knew going into this book was the two characters getting locked in a library and that immediately drew me in, is that not every book lovers dream? While a somewhat unrealistic scenario, as I have seen many others point out in reviews, I was so much fun to read about. I loved reading about their antics in the library, but I do wish we could have had a little bit more of that before getting into the more serious latter part of the book.

Speaking of the latter part of the book, I was not at all prepared for anything that happened after the library. I wasn't even aware of the fact the story continued on after the characters made it out of the library, let alone all of the drama that followed that. It was such a pleasant surprise to read a whole other aspect of the story I had not anticipated, and I really enjoyed the storyline that followed.

One thing I really appreciated, which became much more of a focus throughout the latter part of the book, was discussion surrounding anxiety. Our main character, Autumn, struggles with anxiety and this aspect was personally quite important to me. I struggle with anxiety in a very similar way as is described in the book. Many of the things Autumn finds the most challenging are those things I struggle with the most, which really emphasised the fact that other people, even if they are fictional in this instance, go through the same things I do and that I am not alone.

Knowing this book dealt with anxiety did put me off reading it for a while. I was worried I wouldn't feel it had been dealt with well, and as Kasie West is one of my favourite authors I would have hated to be disappointed by that. However, I think anxiety was handled really well and the discussion surrounding Autumn's anxiety was quite interesting. I obviously can't speak for everyone but I think this book did a great job of showcasing the real worries of many people, including myself, who struggle with anxiety. Kasie West does a great job of not making it a big thing until Autumn really starts to struggle and it becomes something that needs to be addressed. To me, that really emphasises the fact that anxiety doesn't have to completely take over your life, you can have good times, but when things get bad it is OK to talk about it. Autumn's experiences with her anxiety throughout this book were very realistic to my own, therefore I would consider this to have really good anxiety rep.

Despite this great discussion surrounding anxiety, that seemed to be all Autumn was as a character. She definitely was not the usual Kasie West character, full of personality and wit. In fact, she was pretty bland, just a girl with anxiety. This is disappointing, as I typically love Kasie West's characters. The same also goes for the majority of the side characters as well. They were all pretty bland and had little personality. I can't actually remember any of their names by this point, so they weren't very memorable either.

One character I did love, however, was Dax. I love a bad boy and I love a love/hate romance, both of which this book had. Dax is your typical misunderstood bad boy with a rough home life and a bad reputation, which pretty much makes him my perfect love interest. I just loved Dax, but what I really loved was the way the relationship between Dax and Autumn developed. I was expecting super insta-love, since I thought this book just covered the time in the library, but was pleasantly surprised to discover it was not. Despite knowing they had a connection very early on, their relationship took it's time to develop into something really lovely. I just love all of Kasie West's couples, I can't help it.

Overall, this was a very important book for me. It was much more than your average contemporary romance, with the discussions about anxiety playing an important role, but it was still a very fun and enjoyable read. The characters were not up to Kasie West's usual standards but the storyline and the relationship were, which definitely made up for it. I would highly recommend this book, particularly if you have enjoyed her other books.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Unhaul | New Year Clearout

At the start of every year I like to go through my books and have a bit of a clear out. I have been a little delayed in getting around to it this year, with it now being February, but better late than never. I have been a lot more ruthless this time around, getting rid of any books I know I won't get around to reading or don't plan to reread. I think I'm starting to accept that there is not enough space in my house for all of the books so it was time to pass some of the on to new homes.

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time by Mark Haddon - I read this book years ago but have been holding onto it in the hope I'll reread it some time. It hasn't happened in the however many years since I first read it so it's not going to happen now.

Hello, Goodbye And Everything In Between by Jennifer E Smith - I read this back in 2016 and enjoyed it enough to give it 4 stars but looking back on it I don't remember anything about it and have no desire to read it again.

We Were Liars by E Lockhart - This is one that I really enjoyed when I first read it, but the fun of this book is the mystery and now that I know what happens I don't feel the need to read it again.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell - As much as I wanted to enjoy this book, I really didn't so I will not be picking it up again.

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven - I haven't read this one yet but I have two copies, the original cover and the Zoella book club edition, and I don't need both of them. 

With Malice by Eileen Cook - I enjoyed this book but it wasn't anything special so I won't be rereading it.

Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard - This is the same as All The Bright Places, I have both the original edition and the Zoella book club edition and only really need one of them.

Groomed by Laurie Matthew - I have had this book sitting on my shelves for years now and have never picked it up so I don't think I am going to.

Unloved by Peter Roche - Again, this is one I have owned for many years and never reached for so probably will never pick up.

Dare To Fall by Estelle Maskame - I bought this book as soon as it hit shops and then ended up finding a signed copy a few weeks later and had to buy it. Again, I have no need for two copies so I'll be getting rid of my original copy.

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales - I really enjoyed this book but I will never read it again and it's taking up shelf space.

I Am The Secret WAG by The Secret WAG - I've had it for years and never read it. I'm actually not even interested in it anymore.

The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks - This is a sequel of sorts to The Notebook, which I tried to read a good 6 years ago and got bored. I doubt I'll ever read The Notebook or this sequel.

Heart Of The Matter by Emily Giffin - This was hard enough to get through the first time, there will not be a second time.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater - I was so interested in this series back in my vampire/werewolf days but now it just isn't my thing so I don't see myself getting around to it.

F In Exams: The Big Book Of Test Paper Blunders by Richard Benson - This was really fun to read through the first time but these kinds of things are never really that funny the second time around.

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson - This is another one I was interested in years ago but not so much now. I have been hearing some pretty negative reviews of this recently as well, which put me off it a bit.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner - I have tried to read this book twice and put it down both times. I'm going to be a bad reader and just watch the movies I think.

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky - I enjoyed this enough when I read it a couple of years ago but not enough to pick it up again.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness - Again, I really enjoyed this book when I read it but I don't think I'll ever reach for it again.

Grey's Anatomy by Chris van Dusen - This was a fun little companion to the TV show and brought back all the feels from the first few seasons but I would rather just rewatch the show.

How I Lost You by Jenny Blackhurst - This was a pretty average thriller the first time around so it's not going to be one I pick up for a second time.

I would say 22 books was a pretty successful unhaul. I am usually terrible at parting with my books, especially if I haven't read them, but there are just too many books I want to read to be hanging on to those I am no longer interested in.

Have you read any of the books I'm getting rid of? Am I making any mistakes?

Sophie :)

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Mini Review | My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows

Image and video hosting by TinyPicMy Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows
Series: The Lady Janies #1
Published On: June 7, 2016
Published By: HarperTeen
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction
Pages: 491
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★★½

Amazon | Goodreads

Edward (long live the king) is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown… 
Jane (reads too many books) is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended… 
Gifford (call him G) is a horse. That is, he’s an EĆ°ian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated). Every day at dawn he becomes a noble chestnut steed—but then he wakes at dusk with a mouthful of hay. It’s all very undignified. 
The plot thickens as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads?

This book is completely mad!
It is like nothing I have ever read before and I'm really impressed with what the authors have done. To take genuine history and be so imaginative and creative with it in order to turn it into an exciting, hilarious story, it's just such an interesting idea and these authors really managed to pull it off.

Not my usual cup of tea.
There is nothing about this book that would suggest this is something I would enjoy. I very rarely read historical fiction and don't read a whole lot of fantasy, of which this book has some elements. This book didn't appeal to me at all before everyone raved about it, but after picking it up I ended up not being able to put it down.

So many great components.
This book had fantastic characters that I really connected with, and enjoyed reading from the perspective of each of the three main characters. It also had a very interesting premise. Historical figures who can turn into animals, how did they even come up with that idea? However, there was much more to this book than just people turning into animals and the story as a whole was very fun and enthralling.

It had me laughing out loud.
It takes a lot to make me laugh out loud while reading, it almost never happens, but this book had me laughing constantly. I absolutely loved the humour in this book, there were so many witty one liners, and some fantastic horse puns, that made this such an enjoyable read.

Overall, I shouldn't have enjoyed this book but I did. My only reason for not rating it higher than I have is purely due to the fact this is not a genre I love so did find it harder to get into that I would have liked. However, for a genre I don't tend to enjoy, I had great fun reading this book and can't wait to see what is to come from these authors.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Top Ten Tuesday | Top Ten Contemporary Books I Want To Read

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke And The Bookish, now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Lists galore, I can think of nothing better!

This week is a love freebie in honour of Valentine's Day, so I decided to share ten of the contemporary books at the top of my TBR list. I make no secret of the fact contemporary, more specifically YA contemporary romance, is my favourite genre. It is what I read most of and definitely what I have most of on my TBR. So here are the books I am the most desperate to read.

1. Anything Colleen Hoover - She is probably the author most recommended to me, it needs to happen!

2. What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick - I'm a sucker for a small town that gets invaded by tourists in the summer setting.

3. Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma - A sibling love story, how could I not be intrigued by this?

4. Billy & Me by Giovanna Fletcher - I'm desperate to read more from Giovanna after loving Some Kind Of Wonderful.

5. How To Love by Katie Cotugno - I don't think I've ever read a book about a teen pregnancy and I definitely want to.

6. The Start Of Me And You by Emery Lord - I want to read everything she writes after loving Open Road Summer.

7. To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han - I'm hoping that if I keep mentioning wanting to read this then I might finally pick it up.

8. The Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera - I hear so many amazing things about his books, I need to know what the fuss is about.

9. Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway - I know nothing about this book but people rave about it!

10. Lucky In Love by Kasie West - It's Kasie West, that's self-explanatory.

What contemporary books are at the top of your list? I will happily take recommendations.

Sophie :)

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Review | Lucky Girl by Amanda Maciel

Image and video hosting by TinyPicLucky Girl by Amanda Maciel
Published On: January 4, 2018 (Originally April 25, 2017)
Published By: Hodder
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 320
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
Rating: ★★★★★

Amazon | Goodreads

Rosie is a beautiful girl - and it's always been enough. Boys crush on her, men stare at her, girls (begrudgingly) admire her. She's lucky and she knows it. 
But it's the start of a new school year and she begins to realise that she wants to be more. Namely, she's determined to be better to her best friend, Maddie. So, when Maddie connects with a football player who Rosie was hooking up with, she's prepared to get over it in the name of friendship. Plus, someone even more interesting has moved to town. Rosie is drawn to Alex in a way she's never experienced before - and she is surprised to discover that, unlike every other guy, he seems to see more to her than her beauty. 
Then at a party one night, in the midst of a devastating storm, something happens that tears apart Rosie's life and forces her to face uncomfortable truths about reputation, identity, and what it means to be a true friend.

*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Yes, you did read that right, I gave this book 5 stars! It is very rare for me to give out five star ratings but this book deserved it. I wasn't sure what to expect going into it as the synopsis wasn't giving a whole lot away, but it did intrigue me enough to want to know more. This book follows a not particularly likeable character and deals with some pretty hard-hitting topics, so really my opinion could have gone either way. However, I feel this is one of the best books I have read in a while.

I was so invested in this story and the characters in the book. I didn't want to put the book down while reading it, and in those times when I had to go and do other things, I couldn't stop thinking about this book and these characters. I wanted to stay in the story, I had to know what was going to happen and how Rosie, our main character, was going to deal with her situation. I felt like part of the story, I was living these horrible events right there alongside the characters.

I think the reason I loved this book so much, and why I found it such a powerful read, was due to the content covered. This book deals with the sexual assault of a girl with a bit of a reputation and focuses a lot on the slut-shaming we see within society. It was very difficult to read about how slut-shaming can be so detrimental in a situation like this, particularly in that victim blaming can become a real issue. It was very relevant to today's society, which made it even harder to read, and encouraged important conversations about the likes of slut-shaming and victim blaming. I am very impressed that such difficult topics were written about and handled so well.

Rosie herself was another reason I loved this book so much. Rosie is not a likeable character, she can be selfish and disregard the feelings of others. She is flawed in many ways, but she is very real. She felt like a genuine teenage girl, which made her easy to relate to and connect with. I actually saw much of myself in her, though I'm not sure that is something to really admit. Despite everything she faced throughout the book, she was incredibly strong and brave, and only grew as the book went on. Her strength and the way she faced the situation she found herself in, though heartbreaking, I found to be very empowering.

While there was, obviously, a fair bit of plot to this book, the characters are what really kept it going. As well as out main character, Rosie, there were many side characters who really added to the story. There is a very strong friendship theme running through the book, with tensions rising between Rosie and her best friend Maddie. Maddie was a character I had very mixed feelings about, however the friendship group was another aspect of the book I loved. The friendships felt very authentic and real, as did the tensions arising throughout the story. I particularly loved Rosie's friendship with her work colleague as not only was she a really lovely, genuine character, this illustrated that you can find friendships in places you least expected. I also really loved the family aspect of the book, particularly Rosie's strained yet sweet relationship with her younger sister.

Among all the drama taking place in Rosie's life, Amanda Maciel decided to throw a love interest into the mix. I found this a little strange at first and I wasn't sure how this would work with the story. I was worried this book might follow the 'love interest comes along and fixes all problems' trend, but was very glad to see this didn't happen. I really loved that what Rosie needed most was a friendship and that is what she got. Alex did not take away all of her problems, but rather helped her to see herself differently and really aided her character development. While I still don't really understand the relevance of his odd back story, I think Alex, and the romance element, ended up adding to the story rather than ruining it, as I had feared.

Overall, this was a very hard-hitting book, dealing with some very serious topics, particularly relevant to today's society. I found it both heart-breaking and empowering, particularly as the main character felt so real and easy to connect with. It was all too easy to put myself in her shoes and feel her emotional turmoil. I would highly recommend this book if you are looking for something to not only break your heart but make you think.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Haul | January 2018

Despite one of my 2018 goals being to cut back on my book buying, I bought some books in January. While I did manage to stick to my read 5 books before buying any physical books rule, I did purchase quite the selection of eBooks.

Your Life In My Hands by Rachel Clarke - Any kind of medical non-fiction is my kind of thing. This is the story of a junior doctor working within the NHS in England.

They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera - It's about time I read some Adam Silvera and the premise of this sounds really interesting. Two complete strangers brought together by an app spending their last day together, it sounds like it could be pretty heartbreaking.

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh - This is an adult thriller that I have heard really great things about it and it was on offer on Kindle, obviously I picked it up and obviously I know nothing about it.

Did I Mention I Need You? and Did I Mention I Miss You? by Estelle Maskame - I started this series last year and really enjoyed the first book. I'm desperate to finish the series and since the final two books were on offer, I snatched them up.

More Than This by Jay McLean - I know nothing about this book but for some reason I added it to the top of my Goodreads TBR at one point, so I must have known at some point. Again, this was on offer so I bought it.

I don't think I did too badly, I haven't thrown my cut back on book buying goal completely out the window just yet. I need to stop looking at Kindle deals, I can't resist a good £0.99 book! 

Have you read any of these books? Which ones should I read first?

Sophie :)

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Top Ten Tuesday | Top Ten Books That Have Been On My TBR The Longest

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke And The Bookish, now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Lists galore, I can think of nothing better!

This week's theme is books that have been on your TBR the longest and I'm pretty sure this list is going to leave me feeling a little bit ashamed of myself. I know there are books on my TBR, and lying on my shelves, that have been there for 5+ years and the fact that I have yet to read them is pretty bad. 

1. Dear John & The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks - I have had both of these on my shelves for about 7 years now! Why have I not read them?!

2. Can You Keep A Secret? by Sophie Kinsella - This is one of the first books I added to my Goodreads but after not loving Confessions Of A Shopaholic, I've been putting it off.

3. Panic by Lauren Oliver - I didn't even realise how long I have owned this book! I really want to get to this one this year.

4. Billy & Me by Giovanna Fletcher - I finally read one of Giovanna's books last year after years of not getting around to them so now I'm desperate pick up this one.

5. To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han - I have been putting this off until I finish the The Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy, however, I really want to read this before I see the movie.

6. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick - Another one that I didn't realised I have had on my TBR for so long but am still very interested in reading it.

7. The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty - I will read this one this year! I have the audiobook reserved from my library so as soon as it becomes available I will be reading it straight away.

8. Cinder by Marissa Meyer - This book has been on more TBR lists than I can count and I still haven't read it. It's a top priority for 2018, but it was also top priority the last two years and it is still unread.

9. The Program by Suzanne Young - The premise of this book intrigues me so much, I have no excuse for not having picked this up yet.

10. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge - This has been on my Goodreads TBR forever and I thought owning it would encourage me to read it sooner. That obviously didn't happen.

Please feel free to encourage me to pick up some of these books. I want to read all of them but for some reason have never reached for them in the many years I have had them on my shelves. Which one should I pick up first?

Sophie :)