Sunday, 30 September 2012

The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern

I have to admit, I never really intended to read this book.
My friend got given this book as a present and after reading it and loving it, gave the book to me after I must admit - it sounded pretty interesting.
However, once she gave me the book, it sat on top of my bookcase for months. And I'm serious about months.
The other day, it got too long. I needed to either give it back or just read it and hope for the best.
I opened this book, not expecting much. But I was pleasantly surprised!

What interested me about this was the whole circus thing. It made the circus sound beautiful and lovely, which most of the time - it is not. I hate the circus when it comes to town, I've never gone. And that's probably why I didn't want to read this book.
But this book offered an alternative perspective. A romantic perspective that made the circus an all together magical, astonishing and secretive place that really opened my eyes.

Synopsis: The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. The black and white striped tents appear and give you breathtaking, enchanting experiences, that seem almost unreal. This is 'Le Cirque des Reves' - the Circus of Dreams. A sign hangs outside of main gated entrance - Opens at Nightfall, Closes at Dawn.
However, behind the glittering and magical fa├žade of the circus, there is a dangerous competition - a duel between two young magicians  Celia and Marco set up by their guardians. Both have been trained from childhood to win. The circus holds the stage for this battle of imagination and skill. Soon, the pair fall in love. A kind of love that makes the candles flicker or the room grow warm whenever they are together. With such a dangerous and powerful link between the two of them, the fates of everyone, their friends and fellow circus performers, lay in their hands. The game must play out. Only one can win.

Like I said, this book wasn't a planned read for me. At all. I hate the circus and there are so many other books I wanted to read. Yet, somehow I felt bad giving this back to my friend unread - and I'm the one that's a book blogger.
Essentially, this novel is evolved around this circus, where you're never quite sure if the performances are real or staged. Oh and everything is either black, white or grey. The novel follows the creation of the circus and also the running of it, all experiences from a variety of different characters. From early on, it is clear that Marco and Celia are competing in a game against one another - basically to show who is the best magician  formed between Celia's father and Marco's mysterious guardian.

I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Immensely in fact. Erin Morgenstern writes with preciseness and intricate detail that lets your imagination go wild, I could certainly picture the Circus by the end. Her own imagination has made something extraordinary and totally original. The different tents holding enchanting and interesting things, the Midnight Dinners (so want to go to one!), the characters. The imaginative descriptions make this book for me.
There are a whole cast of characters, and that's just the main ones. I can see that some people may get confused with that amount of characters, but I liked the variation. Sometimes it's refreshing to have the narrative based on more than two characters. Marco and Celia are the main two characters - but they're not the only ones that you remember fondly when closing the book.

The romance is also done perfectly. There are moments between Marco and Celia that leave you excited - I felt like I was with them, sharing that moment. The fact, as a reader, you know that they are against each other, there are heartbreaking moments and in a way, it makes their love and the romance within the book more and more real. Especially when you're debating whether the magic they are doing is real at the same time.

I'm not sure I can convey how much I loved this book, hence the rather short review. I don't review adult books that often but I felt this book needs to be highlighted much more than it is.
This is simply magical (no pun intended) written in a beautiful, vivid way that left me wanted so much more. Although I think many may have some trouble getting into the story, the pace is slow, I think any reader would be rewarded when they get to the thick of the narrative. The details, up to the costume, made the book so easy to imagine, the characters becoming personal to you and the circus becoming a place of dreams, magic and romance. The ending was perfect, utterly perfect.
This was just amazing. One of the best books I have ever had the pleasure to read. And completely changed my view of the circus. Just amazing.

I give it a 5 out of 5

Author's Website:
Pages: 387
Publisher: Doubleday
Challenges: Historical Fiction (set in the late 1800's/early 1900's)

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Would really appreciate your help!

Another quickie post.
I'm in the middle of starting my Media coursework for my A-levels and for the essay I am required to write, I need to conduct some primary research.
If you have a spare 5-10 minutes, I would very much appreciate if you could fill in the survey below, which includes watching two adverts about a minute in length each.

All answers are anonymous and will only be used as reference by myself in my essay that will also be read by my teacher and an examiner. Please be as honest as possible and let me know YOUR thoughts. Thank you so much!

If you can't see the form below, click here:

Tuesday Top Ten: Series I haven't finished.

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish. 

(Quick message. I just realised I have 100 followers now! Thank you all so much for following the blog, however long its been. Keep commenting and let me know what you think!)

Every reader's had it. You start a series, knowingly or not, and then face the problem of choosing to hunt around bookstores or libraries to find the next in the series or wait until the book comes along. Like fate as such. I'm one of these people that I really have to dislike a book in order not to finish the series.

This week's topic is interesting and has made me realise the numerous possibilities (and faults on my part) why I haven't finished a series. Awaiting release, haven't got round to reading it yet, haven't got a copy - here are some of the series and their reasons why I haven't quite heard the last of them yet.

(I'm going to exclude books where the next book in the series hasn't been realised because I can't help that!)

1. Diving In - Kate Cann - I read the first book in this series out of curiosity. Never again. One of the worst books I have read. I think my review says it all (review)

2. The Hunger Games Series: Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins - I have a small problem with the fact I think 'Ooo pretty book' or in this case 'AH HUNGER GAMES' and buy it and then not read it for a while. I've got as far as book 2 - just need to get to book 3. Although I think I know what happens anyway :S (review for #1) (review for #2)

3. The Chemical Garden series: Fever by Lauren DeStefano - Same as #2. BUT THE BOOK IS SO PRETTY. Also, as a sidenote, Lauren DeStefano rocks. You know why? SHE POSTS SOME OF THE MOST CUTEST PICTURES OF HER CATS ON INSTAGRAM. Seriously, most of the pictures I like on Instagram is of her cats. It's an obsession okay... (review of Wither #1)

4. Jane Austen series: Jane Austen Stole My Boyfriend by Cora Harrison - Oh, Rebecca let's just BYPASS THE SEQUEL TO 'I was Jane Austen's Best Friend' AND MOVE ONTO CORA HARRISON'S NEXT SERIES, 'Debutantes'. You know, that works. 

Oh why I haven't read this book? Similar to #2 & #3. But Cora Harrison doesn't post pictures of cats unfortunately. She's still great though... (review for #1) (review for Debutantes)

5. The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson - Maybe I'm just blind, maybe just it hasn't come out in the UK? Whatever the reason, I am yet to see a hard physical copy that I am able to pick up of this book. 

Equally, I thought the first book, 13 Little Blue Envelopes, was just alright, so I'm not exactly running around the libraries across London to get this book. (review for #1)

6. Delirium series: Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver - I've only just caught the Lauren Oliver bug when I read Delirium, the first book. I'm definitely up for the sequel (and then the third book...) but I just haven't got a copy yet. That may be rectified at Christmas. (review for #1) (review for Before I Fall)

7. Bumped series: Thumped by Megan McCafferty - Urgh. Bumped. That was quite an interesting and enlightening read, I have to say, but let's just say I'm not crazy about it. Then, once I heard the second book was called Thumped, that sealed this series fate. BUMPED? THUMPED? Oh dear Mother of Squirrels. (review for Bumped)

8. Noughts and Crosses: Double Cross by Malorie Blackman - I read and loved the first three Noughts and Crosses books, and even met Malorie Blackman a year ago (so lovely!). But I got a copy of the last in the series for a Christmas years and years ago but just wasn't a fan anymore. I can't even remember what happened in the first three books completely, only a hazy memory of the first book, so I don't think I'll ever finish this series which is a shame. 

And some series I haven't even started too...
- The Summer series by Jenny Han - Long story. 
- Across the Universe by Beth Revis
- Divergent by Veronica Roth - I have heard amazing things however!
- The Flappers series by Jillian Larkin

Monday, 24 September 2012

On My Bookshelf (28)

This meme for originally inspired by 'In My Mailbox' created by The Story Siren
Other versions are:
Letterbox Love created by Narratively Speaking
Stacking the Shelves created by Tynga's reviews
Showcase Sunday created by Books, Biscuits and Tea


- Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan - Since reading Dash and Lily's Book of Dares (review) and The Lover's Dictionary (review), I've fallen in love with Levithan's writing. It is very unique and different and the ideas he creates are just so original. He reminds me a lot of John Green actually. 
Anyway, after the anniversary of 9/11, I thought it was time to buy this book with a gift voucher I found for Amazon. I think this is going to be an emotional read...

- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky - I have actually read this before, having borrowed the book from the school library. However, with the release of the movie impending (*squeals*), and this exclusive cover being released at work, it's just TOO pretty not to buy. Right? (review)


- VIII by H.M.Castor - This was on the Amazon Daily Deal the other day for 99p and after loving this book and understanding all the historical references from studying History, I thought I would buy a copy of it. (I got the book out of the library before). H.M.Castor is also a lovely writer so you should check this out! (review)

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What books did you get? 

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

After - Morris Gleitzman (#4)

**This is the fourth book in the Once series by Morris Gleitzman featuring Once (review), Then (review) and Now (review). However, Gleitzman says, and I agree, that they don't need to read in order to understand the story**

When I finished Now, I thought I was done with Felix's story. I moved on as did Felix and I was safe in the knowledge that Felix turned out just fine and didn't die during the Holocaust. 
I think so did Morris Gleitzman, as he says in his Author's Note. 

When I discovered that After was being released, I had a mixture of anticipation and dread. Here was an amazing trilogy that I loved, although ended not so well, and now an extra book, an after thought, was being added on the end. This book wouldn't be good. Nah ah. Yet I still wanted to read it. 
So when an anonymous commenter asked if I could get a copy of this, read it and post a review, I thought it was time to enter Felix's crazy and dangerous world one last time.

Synopsis: Set in 1945 between Then and Now, Felix faces some of his greatest and challenging adventures of the Second World War. The Nazis have taken his parents, have killed Zelda and those he loved, and now, they have ruined his 13th birthday. Felix struggles to find hope when he loses mostly everything in the last most dangerous agonising stages of war. Soon, he meets Yuli, a young woman helping Felix find his way, hoping that neither of them disappear before the end of the war. 

Review: After is simply beautiful. Through Felix's innocent naive narration, we discover a world where everything is not quite what it seems and danger is lurking at every corner, all read with a poignant under layer where you, as a reader, know that some of the events are utterly true.

This is certainly not a comfortable read. Any reader cannot help feeling this sinking feeling as the book progresses, the Holocaust comes alive through the eyes of thirteen year-old Felix. For those that are loyal readers of the Once series, we were first introduced to him at aged 6, running away from a Catholic orphanage his parents left him in (so he would not be taken to a concentration camp). What I have loved about this series is seeing Felix get older, I mean it's hardly a desirable childhood. 
In my review for Now, I wrote that I didn't think Felix would be the type of person to fight violently against the Nazis. But in this book, that completely changed. This portrayal of Felix shows his grown-up side and I left reading this book with a smile on my face because it's now a teenager!

Gleitzman's writing is neither too intellectual or patronising. It has the right balance of being childlike but not annoyingly so. I would say this is an easy read, due to the length, but as I hope I've displayed so far, it isn't. Felix's childlike narrative and naivety makes this book all together more emotional and shocking while describing some of the horrors that happened during WWII.

There is nothing more I can really say about this book that hasn't already been said in my previous reviews for the Once series. These books DO NOT need to be read in order, although of course, some things in After may reveal events from Once and Then.

This story has captured mine, and many other reader's, imagination of the young Jewish boy from Poland - Felix. This novel manages a perfect mix of shock, horror and danger with the lovely childlike narration from Felix. It's fair to say his chats with Dom (a horse) in this book definitely made it less intense to death/killing scenes a few pages previously.

Any reader will close this book with Felix in their mind for a while longer. This series is one of the most harrowing books I have ever had the pleasure to read and I think all the credit for that goes to the fantastic and desperately suffering character of Felix. I'm so glad Felix was alright in the end. And that the series ended superbly this way.

I give it a 5 out of 5

Author's Website:
Pages: 209
Publisher: Puffin
Challenges: Historical Fiction

Other Books in the series:
Once #1
Then #2
Now #3

Related Books (set during Second World War):

Friday, 14 September 2012

Why We Broke Up - Daniel Handler

This book has been on my to-read list for a long time. However, with it not being published in the UK, it was doubtful and practically impossible to get a copy to read.
However, one morning I was tidying the shelves in the Teen section at work (aka look and see what new books have come in that I want) and I found about 8 copies of this book that had come in during the week. I was going to buy this but the next day, I was visiting the library, picking up a book I reserved and glanced at the 'New Teen Reads' section. Seeing this, I instantly picked it up.

The idea behind this is what interested me the most to want to read it. I think every girl (and guy) can say coming out of a relationship that there are going to be little things around your house/bedroom that mark a time you were with that person. In my room alone, I counted about 15 things from two ex-boyfriends. It's weird that even after you get over the person emotionally, they are still impacting your life in a small and subtle way. And I commend Min in this book for ridding Ed from her life, both mentally and physically.

Synopsis: Min Green is breaking up with Ed Slaterton. So Min is writing a letter and handing over a box. The box contains many things - a pair of ugly earrings, movie tickets, a recipe book, a box of matches, a protractor, a note. But every single item has significance for the couple. Every item holds a memory, a feeling, an emotion that Min felt throughout their short yet magical relationship. The box, like Min herself, will be dumped on Ed's doorstep with a letter detailing exactly why they broke up.

Review: I think the thing that interests most people about this book is the idea. It's an idea anyone would have experienced and I can certainly emphasise with Min and say I would have loved to have done this to my ex's. I was additionally attracted to this novel because of the striving cover and the fact this was a contemporary.

There have been a mixture of reviews for this one, and I have to admit, I am a little on the fence about this book. I did enjoy reading this book because of it's originality. But when I finished it, and during reading, even though I wanted to love this so much, I just didn't...

There are a number of reasons for that. One is the beginning. Sure, I was interested in what was happening but it took me a while to be sucked in. The beginning starts with Min and Ed meeting at a party that Ed wasn't invited to. I found it slow and in parts of the narrative, especially near the end, it was slow and jumpy. I can't really see what made their relationship turn negative. One moment they are fine, the next not so much. There was no definite moment to signify the beginning of the end, as such.

So the beginning wasn't great. I think started to get into it..mostly. The main problem for me was Min's narrative, mostly the writing. The novel is written in a particular style and this style left me confused about what was happening and reading sentences over and over trying to make sense of them. Min is angry, and because of this, to make it sound angry I think, the sentences are long. And I mean long, making it feel like Min is ranting at you. On one page, there was only two sentences on the pages - that's how long they were. This is fine, but I found it made it confusing and jumpy. Essentially, it didn't flow well some times.
The writing is also very subtle in what is happening, especially in personal moments between the pair. I didn't mind this and I don't think many people would. It just can perhaps be a little unclear about exactly WHAT is happening.

I have to admit, I liked Min - however, I think I was positioned to. I also felt for her. She seems like someone who wouldn't make friends easily or go out with guys often because of her personal originality but then, Ed comes along, whisks her off her feet and then breaks her heart, all within about a month. She is angry. I think anyone can tell. And she has reason to be, as you discover throughout. I also have to admit that I liked Ed, despite this sign in my mind shouting 'Don't trust him!'. I'm sure Min also experienced that.
Ed is an interesting character. The main reason they break up is entirely his fault and so soul destroying for anyone that has also had a relationship end for that reason. Yet he says he loves her continuously, in fact, it's always him starting the 'I love you, I love you too' thing. It's weird really and after seeing Ed in different lights, I'm still a little bewildered why he would do that to Min.

This book is great filled with teenage angst, unique, hilarious and sad stories charting Ed and Min's relationship - something that anyone would envy perhaps. I feel entirely for Min and I think Ed would be punched on mass if this was true. This book shows the ups and downs of teenage relationships and for adults, shows how even though teenagers may only be 17/18, being forever is still in their sights. This book, although not perfect, should be read just for the beautiful illustrations (done by Maira Kalman) and the right mix of originality and inevitability of this little book (and because it's Lemony Snicket...). It's great to see a novel that isn't 'happily ever after'.

I give it a 3.5 out of 5

Author's Website:
Pages: 354
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Challenges: None

There's lots more about the 'Why We Broke Up' project, here

And like many, here's my break up story:

We broke up because we both know you liked my best friend. I liked someone else, so we're even.

We broke up because you were moving far far away. The day we broke up, I knew it from the moment I woke up that morning. I even told my friend, and after a conversation of 'Oh no he won't!', 'You'll be fine', 'Don't be silly', I felt reassured. It's hard sometimes when you prove you're right.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Make You Think

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish. 

With the anniversary of 9/11 today, this week's TTT is on Books that have made me think. This can be the world, my life, people - anything. As long as it made you think more about the themes or topic that the book is centred around. So, here are mine.

1. The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler - Although not everyone's cup of tea, this book certainly made me think. Set in 1996, Emma and Josh log onto Facebook and find themselves in years later in 2011. This made me think 'What if I could look into the future?' What would I do? What would my life be like? Would I be happy? Why do we just the Internet so much (says the person with a blog...)? (review)

2. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne - I think I need not say why. The ending of this book (or indeed from the movie) sums it up. (review)

3. Once/Then/Now/After by Morris Gleitzman - I think sometimes when we talk about the Holocaust or World War Two, at least, we forget about children, often talking about adults and teenagers. Especially those running away. Once showed me a rawness and innocence and even a naivety of children that I will not forget when I both see children and when I talk about WWII. (review of Once)

4. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - Most people fear death. But what would you do if you know death was immediate, going to happen at any moment as you enjoyed your day? Hazel has cancer in this book. A young girl that has cancer and relies on a breathing machine. At 17, it's hard for me to imagine living Hazel's life. Anyone who has read this book, I sure hope would agree with me. (review)

5. Speak/Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Andersen - Anything by Laurie Halse Andersen is sure going to make you think about your life, yourself and the people around me. I have only ever read these too books but both made me feel something I can't explain, especially Wintergirls. These books deal with anorexia, self-esteem, bullying and the issue of rape. Some of the scenes in these novels really hit home during reading. (review for Speak) |  (review for Wintergirls)

6. The Declaration series by Gemma Malley - The opposite of The Fault in Our Stars. What if you could live forever? I mean, seriously, what would happen, no-one has thought of that!? In this series, Malley looks at the effects on the world, England in particular, if we could all live forever, if we relied on a set of drugs to keep us alive continuously. Would we go to school? Would we have jobs? What would the world be like if no-one died but women kept on giving birth? (review)

7. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness - This is the first dystopian book I ever read and I think that alone made me think about the world around me. This was more of a 'grown-up' book for me when I picked it up the first time and I think that alone gave me something to think about. If you haven't read this, do it. Go and just read this. (review)

8. Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld - I've only read this series of books recently. Scott Westerfeld deals with so many issues, not just the whole Ugly/Pretty system and the controlling government. There are issues of bullying, plastic surgery, friendships, self-harming, effects of drugs and alcohol but most of all the issues we all have with beauty and trying to look good all the time. Most people may not seem vain, but this series of books has proven that everyone is always wanting some trivial. (review)

Monday, 10 September 2012

Back to College...

Back to college today so my frequent posting is coming to an end.
Although I have like a zillion free periods now, I also will have tons of work, especially as all three subjects I'm continuing (Media, History and English Literature) have coursework this term. Fun. My college have mucked up my timetable so I have lots of frees, no lunch and a block of lessons in the middle of the day with no break. Oh and NO-ONE knows what times the lessons are supposed to start and finish. So, so far, this year seems like it is not going to be great.

So there may be lots of reading down. Or not. I feel like blogging-wise, I'm only posting when I have to. You know, just reviews and some On My Bookshelf. No discussions, interviews or posts like this one. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing.
This summer has been great, my last summer where I won't be moving, like now. It's so weird to thing that this time next year A levels will be over and I'll be moving out, away from le parents. So, so weird.

(Here are some photos from over the summer):

Me at a dinner party/BBQ I held at my house for a bunch of lovely people I hadn't seen in a while.
As my friend captioned this photo on Instagram:
'Rebecca auditioning for the role of Housewife'

I went to Leicester Square the other day and in the trees, they had paper medals for the medals won by Team GB in the Olympics which I thought was lovely!

I also went to see 'Moonrise Kingdom'. GO SEE IT. It is the cutest movie I have ever had the joy to see and the girl in it has such a nice face...

As every Londoner, I've been watching the Olympics and Paralympics, especially the former. The numerous times I screamed at the TV for the swimmers, runners, divers and rowers to just 'SWIM/RUN/ROW' was countless. From being in London during this time, the buzz was in everyone. They were amazing. 
Although I didn't go to any ticketed events, I did go to the Road Race Cycling for the Women's (where we got a Silver!) and both the Marathon for the Olympics and Paralympics where they were on a loop going by our spot 3 times. On the picture (above right), you can just see David Weir coming into the picture on the left, who later won Gold.

So after a lovely summer, I just hope college gets better.

Extras - Scott Westerfeld (#4)

**There may be spoilers for those that have not read the first three in this series: Uglies #1 (review), Pretties #2 (review) or Specials #3 (review). 
Although I think you could read this novel without the others in the series**

Extras is the fourth and last book in the Uglies series, following Tally Youngblood in her quest to change the society of the world.
Previously, we saw Tally at the end of Specials, defeating her city and opening people's eyes to the world they had become, looking at the prejudice between Uglies and Pretties. Specials ended with a note of finality for me, so I was interested to see how Extras would be different and continue the story along, yet still keep the essence that makes the Uglies series so great.

Synopsis: It's three years after Tally ended the Ugly/Pretty/Special regime and retreated into the wild with David. And the world has changed, again. Since the 'mind-rain', Aya Fuse's city has turned into a society where fame gets you everything. If you are in the Top Thousand, you have a more space, more clothes and lots and lots of merits to buy whatever you want. However, if you're like Aya with a face rank of 451,369, then babysitting and going to classes is the only way to get anything.
Aya is a no-body. An 'extra' at 15 years-old. However, as much as her face-rank is so low, Aya doesn't care. She's just waiting for the right moment when a great story comes along to 'kick' with her trusty hovercam, Moggle. And then that time comes. Aya discovers a secret clique of girls who pull crazy tricks - the Sly-girls. When she joins them, she finds something altogether more terrifying - a story that will propel her to a world of fame, fortune...and danger.

Review: When I started reading the Uglies series back in June, I thought this was a quartet, and it is really. However, I think Extras is more of a standalone novel featuring a world and a set of characters that have a series of books themselves. Simply, I think this novel can be read alone without reading the other books in the series.

The past three books have been set in North America, latterly we found out set in California area. However, Extras is set in, from what I can determine, Japan - although it's never clear. After the 'mind-rain' caused by Tally expelling the Uglies/Pretties/Specials society, the cities went into a little confusion without this authority and set society that everyone was used to. As a result, in Aya's city, they created the idea of face-ranks. In short, the lower your face-rank, the more merits, fame and an overall better life you had. If you got to the top Thousand, well, you were quite something. However, higher than 100,000, you are deemed an extra, like Aya, an extra person in the city desperately trying to win fame and fortune. The city is thriving culturally with the different cliques - everyone wants some attention be it a 'surge-monkey', 'Radical Honesty' or a 'kicker', which is the category Aya and her brother, Hiro call into. Kickers find the most interesting stories and post them on a feed for everyone to see. A future blogger in other words!

This book for me attracts two kinds of readers. 1) Fans of the Uglies series, with the references to the earlier novels and also as a look into Tally's impact on the world retrospectively. 2) New Fans. Okay, so if you read this novel, there are things that might be spoiled for the other books but seriously, I can see this as a stand-alone novel. The narrative is self contained and the references to the other three books are either too subtle or explained from Aya's point of view. It;s nice to see an end to a series like this and also I can understand some blogger's comments that this is more of a companion to the Uglies series, especially as it was more of an after thought.

The writing is great as always from Scott Westerfeld and I enjoyed the fast pace that was kept throughout. I think it was lost a little in Pretties and Specials so it was nice to see it back. This book is much different in many aspects from the Uglies series. They were about fighting the government, this? Fighting aliens. Again another reason for it's stand-alone quality.
The story is slow to start off with, I have to admit. I found the bits focussing on the Sly Girls a little tedious and I was starting to see why some bloggers don't like this book. However, around halfway when Aya gains some more fame, it became SO MUCH MORE interesting, enjoyable and I devoured the remaining pages. It's a book of two halves - the latter the better part.

Aya as a character was lovely and after Tally becoming a little annoying and intense by the end of Specials, it was nice to have this hint of innocence to the series again. From Uglies, I loved Tally's strong personality that was eventually lost in Pretties and Specials. However, Aya has inherited this strong personality and her determination (although as unethical as it might be) I think drives the narrative at times. I wanted to read about her. I wanted to see how she would help or react to Tally.
At the end of Extras, there's a side to Tally we see that shows her transition from Ugly to now a Special clearly. She is doing something extreme and Aya has to try and convince her it is not the right choice. I think it really shows how manipulation of your body and mind can really make you a different person. Aya is a young girl without any surge or manipulation and it made her a lovely character.
There are also some lovely more minor characters that I loved - Ren, Hiro and Frizz made a lovely comedy trio that made this novel more enjoyable.

Scott Westerfeld once again deals subtly with some heavy issues that we can all learn from - popularity, the celebrity status, sustainability are all dealt with in this novel and although being published in 2007, 5 years on, this still and always will remain relevant.
This was a lovely end to the series especially for faithful Uglies series fans. It was also nice to know Tally's total effect on the world and if it actually made a difference. I loved the ending which gave finality and also, a perfect ending for Tally and her friends.
It's fair to say this has been an amazing series that I have loved. I can't believe it's taken me THIS long to read it.
This book is perfect for Uglies fans. However, it is also perfect as a stand-alone as a taster of Westerfeld's work. Go ahead, I know you want to.

I give it a 4.5 out of 5

Author's Website:
Pages: 417
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Challenges: None

Related Posts:
Review: Uglies #1
Review: Pretties #2
Review: Specials #3
Review: So Yesterday (stand-alone also by Scott Westerfeld)

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Pushing the Limits - Katie McGarry

I requested this book on Netgalley, not really intending to read it any time soon. It sounded interesting but I wasn't hooked - I wanted to read the books I am hooked on first.
So, why did I read this book sooner?
The reviews. The magnitude of them that every blogger has posted, sharing their mostly positive reviews. I was simply intrigued to see what all the fuss was about. I entered now expecting much and came out pleasantly surprised.

Synopsis: Something happens a few years ago that changed Echo's live forever. She turned from one of the most popular girls in school with an equally popular jock boyfriend to the 'freak' with scars on her arms? Has she been self-harming, what's wrong with her? But Echo doesn't know as she can't remember the whole truth of that night, the night where she lost her mother and gained these scars. She just wants normal now.
Noah's attitude precedes him, being known for one-night-stands, drinking and drugs, when he enters Echo's life, they should completely opposite. However, both are surprisingly understanding to one another and soon a friendship forms. But with all their issues, can it go further?

Review: I have something to admit. On starting this book, I totally thought this was a Fifty Shades of Grey for teenagers. I know, I know, first impressions, don't judge a book by its cover and all that. But I was totally expecting attraction, a false relationship and some sex (for the record, there is none). Why? Pushing the Limits. The title merely. A 'bad' boy and a good girl. Secrets and their lives being not that fantastic. I was thinking an updated Forever by Judy Blume (from what I can remember of that book *shudders*).
But I was pleasantly surprised. This is not a book filled with a false and forced feeling relationship. Yes, there is sexual attraction but what teenager HASN'T experienced that by the age of 18?!
This was a nice little book to sit down either in the sun on the beach or on a rainy afternoon and just read. It is a pretty intense read so I think if you get into it, it would be hard to stop reading.

Ah, Noah. Just Noah. I found I felt more for him throughout than Echo, not entirely sure why. I think it's because although he has this bad boy attitude on the surface, as we look deeper into his personality he's actually a total softy. It's touching to see how much he cares for both Echo and his brothers and how much he would just go with what Echo wanted. FINALLY there is evidence that not all teenage boys are sex-crazy!
I also liked Echo for the fact she felt very realistic to me, even though her past seemed a little 'out there' to me at times. She was also a completely different type of protagonist and I liked that element of her. The other characters were completely different to one another, which is refreshing to see, and added some laughter and entertainment to a story which I like may have been TOO intense otherwise. My only problem with the minor characters was that they seemed way too cliche for me. This was a book about breaking barriers socially (like the popular girl and the bad stoner boy for instance...) but the other characters could have easily been put into categories. Which kind of defeats the object, if you think about it. Anyway, favourites combos come with Beth/Noah/Isaish and Lila/Echo. Lila, you are my best friend now.

I liked the writing the most I think. Okay, so the writing is hardly Jane Austen or Charles Dickens but I still liked it! McGarry shows their emotions easily without being too dramatic. I also liked the fact that not everything was revealed at the beginning, and for Echo's story, you find out what happened with her and Noah. It made it more interesting to read I think and made me form a judgement before finding out how messed up both their lives are. My only concern really was some of the events seemed too far-fetched or melodramatic for me, but this didn't affect my reading.

Despite my expectations being a little judgemental from the title, I did enjoy this novel and was pleasantly surprised. I wouldn't say it's the best book I've read, but it's a pretty damn good shot at a great contemporary from Katie McGarry. I had few problems with this book and loved the characters she presented, especially Noah. Although when he calls Echo 'baby' on some occasions, I sounded so creepy. Like 'Ah, get away from me you creep', creepy. Meh, just me? Okay then...

I give this a 4 out of 5

Thank you to the publisher for letting me view the e-galley via Netgalley

Author's Website:
Pages: 384
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Challenges: None

DARED TO YOU is coming out in 2013, centred around Beth from PUSHING THE LIMITS

Monday, 3 September 2012

Looking back at AUGUST

Previous months: 



August was the month of doing absolutely nothing. Apart from reading, of course.
I had the whole of August off for the summer holidays so reading was something I was doing pretty frequently as I had extra time on my hands. I also spent the month working (FYI, I work at a bookshop), blogging, watching the magic that is Glee (hooked), seeing friends and attempting to think that it really is summer while walking in rain. Yep, the inevitable rain graced England's summers once again. I actually thought this summer had more summery days than previous years but BBC beg to differ as they announced the other day that this August was the wettest summer since 1912. So, perhaps I was wrong.

Blogging had increased due to this extra time (and when I'm trying to put off doing work like, erm, NOW). So it was nice to see more comments, more posts and overall more reading! The total as now of followers was 98 so two more until 100! That would make my year. Thank you to all of you who have already!

New Girl - Paige Harbison (not the most positive of reviews...)

Read but not reviewed:
The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
Pushing the Limits - Katie McGarry (writing the review for this at the moment)


Signing Coming Up (featuring John Boyne and Derek Landy)
I'm Back (from when I went on holiday)

Sunday, 2 September 2012

On My Bookshelf (27)

This meme for originally inspired by 'In My Mailbox' created by The Story Siren
Other versions are:
Letterbox Love created by Narratively Speaking
Stacking the Shelves created by Tynga's reviews
Showcase Sunday created by Books, Biscuits and Tea 

Borrowed from Library:

- Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler - I heard about this book a while ago when it appeared on Goodreads due to some of the American bloggers I follow. I have also seen some really positive reviews and after seeing the BEAUTIFUL cover, I knew it was a book I wanted to read. However, with the whole I'm a UK blogger but this is published in the US, it became a book I knew I would never read. 
UNTIL NOW. I actually saw it first in the UK at work on the shelf when tidying which was a bit of a revelation and surprise. I was going to buy it but when seeing it in the library the other day, it was too good to resist. LOOK AT THAT COVER. AND IT HAS PICTURES.
(Also surprised to find out that Daniel Handler? His pen name is Lemony Snicket - the writer of A Series of Unfortunate Events!)

- After by Morris Gleitzman - You thought the Once series was just a trilogy therefore after Once (review), Then (review) and Now (review), that was it, done. ME TOO. 
I was so happy to find out they decided to continue Felix's story further! Here, Gleitzman writes what happened in between Then and Now, set a year after WWII finishes. So looking forward to reading this!

Received for review:

- The Diviners by Libba Bray - I have never read anything by Libba Bray but I know lots of people will be saying 'But you should!' When I got a list of books from Atom with their new releases and read the blurb for this, I knew I wanted to read it. 1920's? New York? But with SERIAL-KILLERS? This sounded interesting to say the least. It was a great thing to arrive back to from holiday.
This will be my first taste of Libba Bray so if it's good I may advance onto A Great and Terrible Beauty. Thank you Atom for sending me a copy of this!

What did you receive this week? Have you read any of these books?