Sunday, 13 May 2018

Review | Leah On The Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Image and video hosting by TinyPicLeah On The Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
Published On: May 3, 2018
Published By: Penguin Random House
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 368
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
Rating: ★★★★

Amazon | Goodreads

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon. 
So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

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

I never had much interest in Leah's story. I read Simon earlier in the year and didn't consider her a stand-out character that I wanted more from. I did, however, want more of Simon and Blue. They was my sole reason for wanting to read this book, and there they were as adorable as ever. However, that ended up not being the only thing about the book I enjoyed.

If I'm being honest, I didn't like Leah in Simon. I found her quite annoying and didn't like some of the things she did. Strangely, she felt like a completely different character in this book. Perhaps this was because we were able to get to know her better and find out more about her life. I actually kind of liked her, and definitely related to her more than I did previously.

I didn't really like the friend group in general in Simon, but again my opinion changed this time. That could also just be because we were getting to know them better in this book. I actually really loved this friendship group and I think there was more of a focus on friendship in this book, particularly with the build up to prom and graduation. Leah's friends are all so different and I really loved getting to know them all more, I just wanted to be a part of the group.

Leah's friendship with Simon was possibly my favourite thing about this book. I adore the two of them together, they have such a genuine, loving friendship that it made my heart melt. They reminded me a lot of myself and my high school best friend so I think that made me love them even more. I was so rooting for them to stay friends through college rather than drifting apart like my friend and I.

As well as the friendships, I also really loved the relationship in this book. Leah's love interest is not who I would have expected after reading Simon but I was definitely on board with it. I thought the two of them were adorable together and I loved the questions around sexuality that were raised. The one thing I didn't like, though, was that the relationship appeared to come before friendships at one point, which I wasn't happy about.

My only other complaint was that I wanted a little bit more. The ending was a bit abrupt and didn't really explain how things happened. I also really wanted to get to see more of Leah and love interest following the pretty dramatic ending. We did get a little insight into that but I just wanted more. I could read about these characters all day.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book despite not being a huge fan of Leah going into it. I loved diving back in to this world and getting to know the diverse cast of characters a bit more, as well as catching up with Simon and Blue. I liked Leah a lot more in this book and loved seeing her learn more about herself while falling for the girl she, and I, least expected. It was just as adorable as Simon and just as enjoyable.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Mini Review | The Language Of Kindness by Christie Watson

Image and video hosting by TinyPicThe Language Of Kindness: A Nurse's Story by Christie Watson
Published On: May 3, 2018
Published By: Chatto & Windus
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Pages: 336
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
Rating: ★★★

Amazon | Goodreads

Christie Watson was a nurse for twenty years. Taking us from birth to death and from A&E to the mortuary, The Language of Kindness is an astounding account of a profession defined by acts of care, compassion and kindness. 
We watch Christie as she nurses a premature baby who has miraculously made it through the night, we stand by her side during her patient’s agonising heart-lung transplant, and we hold our breath as she washes the hair of a child fatally injured in a fire, attempting to remove the toxic smell of smoke before the grieving family arrive. 
In our most extreme moments, when life is lived most intensely, Christie is with us. She is a guide, mentor and friend. And in these dark days of division and isolationism, she encourages us all to stretch out a hand.

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

This is my kind of book.
I feel like everyone has that one very specific type of book that they can never pass up and for me that is medical non-fiction or memoirs. I find different healthcare systems and the experiences of people working within them so interesting that I could read these types of books forever. If you are one of these slightly odd people like me, this book is definitely for you.

I loved so much of it.
If I was rating this book purely on the information within it and what I took from it, it would easily be a five star read. There is so much really great information about what it takes to be a nurse and how much the job takes from you. These are things I already knew, but reading about a person's real experience of their job and how the challenges of nursing made a real impact on their life made it all the more real. This is a perfect book for anyone in the nursing or healthcare field.

It is not for everyone.
Being in this field, I found this book so interesting and helpful. However, I don't think those outwith the field will be able to take the same from it. It is not a memoir filled with funny stories of interesting patients, it is a real, raw look at nursing and everything nurses face. There is a lot of nursing theory and almost academic discussion, which I learnt a lot from but is not likely to be the most interesting thing for non-nurses to be reading about.

The writing was hard to follow.
While the content was great, the writing didn't flow making it a little difficult to follow. We jumped from one story to the next without transition and it was often unclear when these stories took place in relation to the point in her career. This did not take away from the content but was a little confusing.

A must-read for anyone considering nursing.
I think this book should be compulsory reading material for anyone considering nursing as a career. I know many student nurses who could have benefited from this kind of insight into the career before starting their studies. It is a true representation of life as a nurse, warts and all, and emphasises the true fundamental aspect of nursing; kindness.

Overall, I think this is a great nursing memoir for those in the healthcare field but may not be the most accessible, easy to read book for others. Personally, I took a great deal from this book and have learnt things that I know I will put into practice in my own career. I would definitely recommend it to anyone in the field or considering nursing as a career, but it is not a book for everyone.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Wrap Up & Haul | April 2018


April was such a busy month and it has completely flown in! I can't believe it's nearly summer already! I had a lot going on in April but still managed to read 6 books, which seems to be my number this year since I've read 6 books 3 out of 4 months so far. I'm actually really happy that I'm managing to be quite consistent with the number of books I'm reading each month, hopefully that will continue throughout the rest of the year. Yet again, I read mostly ebooks in April meaning my physical TBR is continuing to grow. However, the one physical book I did read is one I have been wanting to get to for years, so that's pretty exciting. I also bought a few books in April after being good for a couple of months.

Read

Sam & Ilsa's Last Hurrah by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan -
This was an odd book! I read Dash & Lily's Book Of Dares by these authors in December of last year and enjoyed it so decided to give this, their newest release, a go. It takes place over one night in which twins Sam & Ilsa throw one last dinner party before graduation. It was very pretentious and not a whole lot happened so I got a bit bored. It was a very quick read but I didn't really enjoy it.
Rating: 2/5 | Review

Cinder by Marissa Meyer -
I finally read it! I have had Cinder on almost every TBR list I have ever posted on this blog and always put it off, until April. I decided I had put it off long enough and it was time to give it a go. I went into it knowing nothing more than it is a Cinderella retelling with a cyborg main character but it ended up being a lot more than that. I really enjoyed it and found the world and story very interesting, particularly is it didn't completely follow the Cinderella storyline, it had an original story at the forefront. I found it to be very predictable and didn't love it as much as I expected to but I'm still really glad I eventually read it.
Rating: 4/5 | Review

I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman -
Gayle Forman is an author whose books I either really, really love or think their just average. For that reason, I didn't know what to expect from this book, particularly as the synopsis didn't completely intrigue me. It follows three people over the course of one day after their lives become randomly intertwined. I didn't expect to completely love it and I definitely didn't expect it to become my favourite book of the year so far! I loved the characters, I loved the story, I loved the writing. It caught me by surprise and I will recommend it to everyone.
Rating: 5/5 | Review

Bookshop Girl by Chloe Coles -
This book isn't published until June but I decided on a whim that despite being behind on the ARCs for the current month, I should just pick this one up instead. It was a really quick read about a girl trying to stop the local bookshop where she works from being shut down. It was fun and had a really great message but it wasn't the book for me. It featured so many of my bookish pet peeves and I wasn't really a fan of all the boy drama. It's one that I can see other people loving but it wasn't for me.
Rating: 2/5 | Review To Come

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty -
I've been wanting to read this book for a while but after it became a TV show it flew to the top of my TBR. It recently became available through my libraries audiobook service so I grabbed it, and I'm glad I did. This book follows a group of Kindergarten mothers and all of their family drama but also involves a mystery death. This book was unlike anything I have read before and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved the way it was written and how the mystery begins to slowly unfold as we learn about the lives of these women. It doesn't sound like much from the synopsis but it is such an interesting, entertaining book.
Rating: 4/5 | Review To Come

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman -
Following it's release in the UK at the beginning of April, everyone has been raving about this book. I have seen so many rave reviews that I expected to love it too. However, this is another book that wasn't for me. Starfish is about a Japanese-American girl who has grown up not being exposed to her Japanese heritage, with a mother who treats her pretty terribly. We follow her as she tries to figure out what she wants to do with her life after finishing high school. There were so many aspects of this book that I really enjoyed - the discussions regarding race, culture and beauty, the anxiety rep, some insight into the Japanese culture - but also aspects that I didn't enjoy. The plot was kind of dull despite all of the things going on in Kiko's life and I just felt underwhelmed. 
Rating: 3/5 | Review

Bought:

The Truth And Lies Of Ella Black by Emily Barr - I'm going to YALC (!!!) this year and Emily Barr has been announced as one of the authors attending. I've been wanting to read her books so this seemed like a good excuse to pick one up.

Super Awkward by Beth Garrod - Beth Garrod is another author announced for YALC so when I saw her book on offer I decided to pick it up to add to my YALC TBR. It sounds like a really fun, laugh-out-loud read.

Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli - I read this in February as an ebook but again decided to pick this one up when I saw it on offer. I'm slightly disappointed that it's the movie tie-in but I suppose it's still the same on the inside.

Tales From The Shadowhunter Academy by various authors - This was a completely random purchase as I haven't even finished the Mortal Instruments series yet. I saw it and something just made me add it to my basket, I don't know why.

I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman - I read this initially as an eARC but with it being my favourite book of the year so far I had to pick up a physical copy. Gayle Forman is another author announced for YALC so I also needed a physical copy to get signed.

That was a bit of a lengthy wrap up and haul for April! I would say that was a pretty good reading month, especially with another rare 5 star read thrown in. 

Did you read any great books in April? 

Sophie :)

Monday, 30 April 2018

Review | Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Published On: April 5, 2018
Published By: Ink Road
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
Rating: ★★★

Amazon | Goodreads

Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin. 
But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.


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

I tried my hardest to go into this book with no expectations but for some reason, somewhere in the back of my mind, I expected to really enjoy it. Having read some reviews before picking it up, I had seen so many people rave about this book. I was seeing nothing but 5 star reviews and people claiming this as their new favourite book and I had thought I would be one of them. Sadly, not. For me, this book was average.

I didn't hate it, by any means. There are several aspects of the book that I particularly enjoy. For the most part, though, I just found it to be kind of 'meh' and not all that exciting. I didn't feel like very much happened and found there was nothing drawing me in and making me want to keep reading. I was a little bit disappointed.

Despite there being so many different aspects to the story, I felt as though the plot dragged. The main character, Kiko, is dealing with so much in her life and all of that is explored within the story. However, it was all a little bit boring. I'm not even sure how to explain it but it almost felt to me as though there was a pretty boring main plot and then all of the complex, interesting stuff going on in Kiko's life were different subplots rather than being involved in the main story. It definitely had potential but I don't feel like it was executed as well as it could have been.

One of those "suplot" aspects that I didn't like was the romance. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't like Jamie! He was a very bland character with little substance to him, but he was also just not a great person. I really didn't like his attitude towards Kiko's anxiety. He didn't even try to be nice about it, despite promising at one point to try harder, and just made her feel worse about something she couldn't control. I may have been muttering some not very nice words while reading about him.

Kiko's anxiety is a very prominent part of the book, which I think is really great. While she doesn't let it define her, it is clear to the reader just how much it impacts her life and how much she struggles with it. While the representation in this book was great, for the most part, I did have a few small issues with it. For the majority of the book, I thought the anxiety rep was very accurate and often really related to what Kiko was going through and how the situation was being described. However, there were a few times where it felt very exaggerated or that things were inconsistent. I would say, though, that the representation was pretty good overall.

I loved how important Kiko's heritage was to the story. Kiko is half-Japanese, but has not really had the opportunity to explore the Japanese culture. I think the way this was discussed and incorporated into the story was really great. There is a real emphasis on how much not being exposed to that side of her heritage has impacted Kiko and caused her to feel so insecure in herself. There was also great discussion regarding beauty and how there is more than one idea of beauty, not just the blonde, blue eyed Caucasian models displayed all over the media. This was probably my favourite aspect of the book and I particularly loved getting a bit of an insight into Japanese culture myself.

Overall, this book has a great message and did have it's good qualities but it didn't live up to the expectations I had for it. I found the plot to be slow and a little boring, and had some issues with a few characters. However, I did really love the emphasis on embracing your heritage and exploring different cultures, as well as the anxiety representation throughout the story. I can understand why a lot of people have really enjoyed it, but for me it was just an average read.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Down The TBR Hole | Round 5


Down The TBR Hole is a meme created by Lost In A Story in which you attempt to reduce your Goodreads TBR. It basically involves organising your Goodreads 'Want To Read' shelf by date from oldest to newest, looking at the first 5-10 books and decided whether you're still interested or not.

Image and video hosting by TinyPicThe Rules For Disappearing by Ashley Elston

Ever since that Mary-Kate and Ashley movie where they were in the witness protection programme (which I was obsessed with back in the day), I've had a strange desire to find a movie/book following similar lines. This book follows a teenage girl who is on her seventh witness protection identity and she is desperate to find out what happened to her father to put them in that position. This sounds like my kind of book!


Judgement: Stay


Image and video hosting by TinyPicLove Letters To The Dead by Ava Dellaira

I recently read Ava Dellaira's newest release and really enjoyed it so had intended to pick this one up. It's about a girl who starts writing letters to dead famous people to help her come to terms with her sisters death. It sounded intriguing, but having read some reviews I'm not so sure. A lot of people have compared it to The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, which I didn't really love.



Judgement: Go


Image and video hosting by TinyPicRoomies by Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando

I didn't have a particularly positive experience of starting university so I often like to vicariously relive my uni days through books. This follows two college roommates and I'm assuming just the drama that surrounds moving away for the first time and dealing with the change. This is definitely the kind of book I think I would enjoy.



Judgement: Stay


Image and video hosting by TinyPicHung Up by Kristen Tracy

A wrong number leads to two teens forming some kind of connection through phone calls. This would definitely have interested me a few years ago and I would probably have devoured it and ended up loving it. Now though, it just seems a little bit too young for me. I don't see myself ever picking it up.




Judgement: Go


Image and video hosting by TinyPicIf You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

This is one I remembered nothing about when I saw it on my Goodreads shelf and was sure that meant I would be getting rid of it. Then I read the synopsis and was instantly intrigued again. I'm a sucker for a good mystery and this seems like just that, with so many different elements to it.




Judgement: Stay


I seem to be slowing down a little bit in terms of actually getting rid of books from my Goodreads shelf. I was doing pretty well before. being very strict about what books I was keeping. Perhaps these books just happened to be a pretty good bunch, meaning I saved 3 and only got rid of 2. There are still plenty more books to go though, hopefully I can get that TBR number down soon.

Sophie :)

Monday, 23 April 2018

Mini Review | Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Image and video hosting by TinyPicCinder by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #1
Published On: January 5, 2012
Published By: Puffin
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Dystopian
Pages: 387
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★★★

Amazon | Goodreads

CINDER, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She's reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister's sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai's, she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen - and a dangerous temptation. 
Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth's future.

I finally did it!
I have had this book on my shelves for years and have included it in more monthly TBR lists than I can count but kept putting it off. I did enjoy and am glad that I finally got around to read it, but it's not a book I'm kicking myself for not having read years ago.

Cinderella as a cyborg.
I loved the concept of this book. I think it was such a unique idea to combine the well-known story of Cinderella with a sci-fi twist. I don't typically read sci-fi so I found the cyborg aspect of the story very interesting and loved learning about Cinder and her cyborg characteristics. I would have liked to learn a bit more about cyborgs and for that to be explored more.

It was an original story.
Although this is a retelling of Cinderella, that wasn't the main story of the book. I really enjoyed that it was a very loose retelling and that it was only part of the story. The main plot followed an original story and didn't rely too much on the traditional story we all know.

The world was interesting.
This book is set in a futuristic, dystopian world that I found so interesting to read about. It wasn't explored as much as I would have liked in this book, there are definitely a lot of things I don't fully understand and would like more information about, but these things may be explored more in the rest of the series.

Average characters.
All of the characters in this book were just okay, nothing particularly special. Other than being part cyborg, there wasn't anything all that interesting about Cinder. She had little personality, as did Prince Kai. I thought the relationship between the two was just fine as well, I didn't really feel anything between them and it seemed kind of insta-lovey.

Very predictable.
My one real issue with this book was how predictable it was. I guessed pretty much every big plot twist early on and nothing that happened came as a surprise to me. I'm willing to give Marissa Meyer the benefit of the doubt, as this was a debut novel, but it was a bit disappointing to not have any surprises while reading.

Overall, I did enjoy this book and am glad I finally read it. I didn't find it as great as everyone made it out to be but it was a fun, well-written story. I'm not sure this series is really for me so I am unsure whether or not I will continue. However, part of me is somewhat intrigued to see how the story continues.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Top Ten Tuesday | Top Ten Series I Need To Finish ASAP


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 freebie giving everyone the opportunity to talk about whatever their heart desires. I thought this would be a good opportunity to give myself a bit of a kick up the backside. One of my goals for the year is to finish 5 series. We are now in April and I have yet to finish one series this year! So let's make a list of all of the series I really need to finish soon so you can give me some encouragement to get them read.

1. Unwind dystology by Neal Shusterman - I have been meaning to finish this series for so long! I've got to the stage now where I know I'll need to reread the first two before continuing and I think that's what is putting me off.

2. Pushing The Limits series by Katie McGarry - I only started this series last year so I don't feel quite as bad about not having finished this. It is one I definitely want to continue with this year but I'm not sure I'll finish it.

3. The Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy by Jenny Han - This series would be so easy to finish as I own both books 2 & 3 and their both pretty short. I just need to finally get around to it!

4. Sisterhood series by Ann Brashares - I read the first book last year and loved it. I definitely want to pick up more of these books in the summer, they're perfect summer reads! They're really quick reads as well so I could easily marathon the rest of the series if I find the time.

5. Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead - This series is one I have kind of gone off a little bit. I have read the first two books and I think I just needed a bit of a break from it. I want to finish it eventually, hopefully soon, but I'm not sure it'll happen this year.

6. DIMILY trilogy by Estelle Maskame - This is probably the series I am most desperate to finish. I read book one last year and wanted to continue straight away. Now that I have the last two books I just need to get a move on and finish the series.

7. The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare - I had initially planned on reading all of this series this year, including rereading book one. However, after two books my plan fell apart a little bit. I still really hope to finish it this year though, fingers crossed.

8. The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare - I haven't actually started this series yet but it goes along with my plan for TMI. I'm planning to read the two series' in publication order so in order to finish TMI, I need to finish this series first.

9. Dash & Lily duology by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan - I read Dash & Lily's Book Of Dares back in December, not realising that it had a sequel. I didn't love the first book but I'm interested to see where the story goes so I will pick up the second book, hopefully this year.

10. St Clares series by Enid Blyton - This is a series I read a little bit of as a child but never finished. I now have the complete collection and started re-reading them last year, however only read one book before forgetting about it. These books are so short that I can definitely read all of them this year.

Those are the top ten series that I need to finish as soon as possible, five of which I need to finish this year in order to complete my challenge. If there is a series on my list that you think I really need to finish right now, please pester me to do so! I need the encouragement/bullying to make me pick them up!

What series do you really need to finish soon? 

Sophie :)