Saturday, 30 March 2013

On My Bookshelf (38)

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

I haven't received much recently, just a few review copies/e-books which I'm excited about.

For Review: 

- The Secret of Ella and Micha by Jessica Sorensen - This is defined as a New Adult book, a genre I'm still trying to get my head around what it is exactly. This is my first known dose of the new genre so I'm interested to see if I enjoy it or not.
Thank you to Little, Brown for sending this to me!

Netgalley:



- The Rules For Disappearing by Ashley Elston - The blurb reminded me a bit of What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen....

- The Rose Throne by Metter Ivie Harrison - THAT COVER.

- Queen's Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle - I saw a hardback copy of this at work the other day and my, it is pretty. And it's set in Tudor times. About a period of time at the end of Henry VIII's reign that I'm studying for History. And Catherine Parr. And the whole thing with Thomas Seymour. And I'M JUST SO HAPPY I WAS ACCEPTED TO READ THIS.


Have you read any of these books? What did you think? LET ME KNOW!
Also leave links to your version of On My Bookshelf and I'll check it out :)

Friday, 29 March 2013

Update

So, erm, hey! Remember me? First things first, I'm incredibly sorry for my absence and my sporadic posting when something is posted. And also the quality of it, because we know it's me rambling.
It's been very hectic recently with lots of deadlines, stress, homework and coursework looming over my head. Also, when I do go to post, I literally have no idea what to write. So I amuse myself with something else apart from blogging.
In all honesty, the end of term means that for the next few weeks you'll have the lovely Rebecca back before I rush back into the world of revision (not a world I look forward to visiting) for my exams in June which should be THE LAST EXAMS I'LL TAKE. Because my university course has no exams (FINALLY).

The last few weeks have been a little chaotic. My Media coursework was due in this week and with THE most unhelpful teacher in history, it's made submitting a decent essay and advert even harder. But I submitted that this week after having to look over the whole fricking college to find my teacher. And then there were these timed essays to do (one of which I got a C+ in which considering the D's I've been getting, it's an improvement).

Anyway, that's what has been happening. The next few days I'll be away as I'm going out of the country for a bit on holiday with my parents as a nice relaxer after a stressful and cold few weeks. I'm going to schedule some posts while I'm away so look out for those!  But basically, I won't be available on Twitter or in the comments until I'm back. Hopefully get lots of reading done :)


Have a lovely Easter, eat lots of chocolate! And have a great half term for those off this week!


Thursday, 28 March 2013

Event: Lauren Oliver

On Tuesday 19th March, I trekked up to London after college to attend the Lauren Oliver talk/signing at Waterstones Piccadilly. It has been something I've been looking forward to for a long time since I heard about it. Despite finishing at 4.10 from college, having to change trains and then negotiate London Waterloo in the rush-hour (which is...it's frightening) while eating and containing my excitement, I was determined to get there.

I got a seat in the middle and got talking to some lovely people around me, all agreeing with me about Lauren Oliver's books and the upcoming TV series of her books. Again, it struck me when I was leaving how lovely some people are and how books can really bring strangers together. Soon, I was talking to people I'd known 5 minutes as if I'd known them much much longer.

I've been to a few book signings since starting blogging - John Green, Patrick Ness, Malorie Blackman - but I have to say Lauren Oliver's talk was one of the best. I love her ease with talking about her book, how passionate she sounds about reading and writing and when reading her books now, I remember and see what she described so vividly about herself as a writer.

We believe the girl in the blue cardigan is
Cicely from Cicely Loves Books
She read aloud from Hana's POV in the final installment because as she said, reading anything from Lena's POV would just ruin EVERYTHING for those that hadn't read Pandemonium. The passage was an altered version of the story of Solomon which I think just highlighted how controlling and censored the government in Lauren Oliver's books are. Then, she moved on to answering some questions from the audience. As usual you have the initial hesitation when there is like NO-ONE wanting to ask questions and then suddenly, after the first couple of brave people, there are 10 hands up at a time. Some of the questions were about the series of books, Oliver's writing, her opinions on the TV series and even her views between the UK and US covers (she liked the UK ones more).

I think one of the most interesting things to hear about was her view on the TV series. As someone pointed out, Hana described with blonde hair, blue eyes and someone who when standing next to her, she would always stand out is being played by a brown haired, brown eyed female in the TV series. In Oliver's view, and I agree with her, the fact that the actress looks different to the Hana we've envisioned from the books doesn't matter. What matters is the essence of her character coming across on screen. As long as she is still pretty in a way that you can never compare to her, that is the whole point and Lena's view on Hana therefore, that is what matters. I both agree and disagree in a way but by her saying that aloud, it did change some of the opinions I had formed about the many adaptations around at the moment. While some people dislike Theo James as Four from Divergent, for instance, we have to remember that although the appearance helps to adapt Four's character to the screen, it's his personality, character and actions that will truly remind us of the Four we all know and love. Lauren Oliver is right in saying that.

She also talked a little bit about her new book (which I have to say I thought HUNGER GAMES) when she described it. It's called Panic and should be coming out some time next year. It's about this village in New York where every summer the kids in the neighbourhood play a very serious game with drastic consequences. Sounds interesting, I have to say and a little different from Delirium.
My question was asking about whether she intended in starting the series to have both Julian AND Alex. For me, Julian kind of came out of the blew from no-where - no hints, no warnings that Lena could have feelings for another. Her reply was yes, it was intended. She said she had always wanted to have these two different guys - complete opposites - and the tension from these characters have against one another is portrayed the most in Requiem.


After the questions were over, she started signing books. I was quite near the back so I had to wait a while before I met her and spend the time talking to Rebecca (another one!) who was sitting next to me, and someone I found out goes to a university near me (it really is a small world sometimes). When I finally got to the front, I don't really remember what I said. I think I rambled for a bit about what I'd read in the series, not particularly making sense. I also mentioned I'd looked at the end of Pandemonium before I started it. For those that have read it, you will know that that IS THE WORST THING TO DO and totally ruined the ending. Lauren replied in mock anger and wrote in big letters in my signed book about it which was a lovely personal gesture. I had my photo taken with her and then scurried off.
I don't think I've ever met someone so nice! Literally, she is one of the nicest, friendliest people I have come across in a while and I felt so at ease talking to her considering a) she was kind of a stranger and b) she writes some of the best books.


It was a lovely evening and one I have turning over in my mind happily for days thinking about how great it was. The ease in talking to Lauren Oliver, the delight in hearing the secrets behind some of her writing and most of all, enjoying some of the best YA books around with people who completely agree with me. I had a bit of an awful day the next day (for more than one reason) but that evening made me realise how much I want to become part of the book industry but also how much I love being a blogger. It has its moments but blogging really is great.


I would seriously recommend Lauren Oliver's books. I was a bit unsure about my opinion of Delirium but Pandemonium is AMAZING. I'm currently reading Requiem which is brilliant so far!

Review: Delirium
Review: Pandemonium
Review: Before I Fall (stand-alone)

Saturday, 23 March 2013

On My Bookshelf (37)

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

I went to the Lauren Oliver event at Waterstones Piccadilly this week so I picked up some books for the event as well as some extras as I was in the BIGGEST book store in England. I love walking around there because, although it is a BIG shop, it always seems quite peaceful for some reason. There are times when having a staff discount really is a perk.


Bought:

- Delirium by Lauren Oliver - I've read this one already but borrowed a library book when I did. At the signing I was already getting Requiem and I had Pandemonium at home so I had to finish the collection. Although I realised in the queue that I have different versions of all three books so they don't match...

- Requiem by Lauren Oliver - This is her newly released book and I've just started it - wow so far. I wasn't going to read it straight away but after being on a high from the evening talking and loving this series, I needed to know what happened in the end. I'm desperately trying not to look at the end - it's really hard!



- Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins - I was standing in the Teen section for about 15 minutes debating whether to get this or not. I'd read the first chapter at the back of my copy of Anna and the French Kiss (which I loved) and thought it sounded really good. However, when I went back to the section after the event at like 9.30pm, it was still there and in my tired state, I bought it (with my discount of course). Quite glad I did too.

- Insurgent by Veronica Roth - This was one of those grab-and-go purchases where I saw it on my way to the till and got it. I have a copy of Divergent and I'll probably be rushing to the shops when the third book comes out so I thought I might as well go for the whole series. I have read this book, it's so so good - go read Divergent!


Library:

- All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin - I've read two contemporary-ish reads by Zevin, Elsewhere and Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, both of which are good. I've seen this in bookshops but never been sure whether I would like it as it seems very different to what I know Zevin has written before. Looking forward to seeing what this is like, it sounds incredible. 



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


Thursday, 21 March 2013

Pandemonium - Lauren Oliver (#2)

*There may be some spoilers for the first book in the series, Delirium (here's my review for that)*

I started this a little apprehensiveness to say the least. While I liked Delirium and definitely wanted to find out what would happen next for Lena after THAT ending, it wasn't the best or memorable book I had ever read. So I thought PANDEMONIUM would be the same, honestly.
I found out a couple of months ago about the Lauren Oliver signing (more about that next week!) and having not read this, yet been given a copy by a friend, I thought it would be time to read this as the signing was for the third and final book in the series.
BOY THIS MADE UP FOR WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE IN DELIRIUM. (Get used to the CAPS by the way...)

Synopsis: After escaping Portland with Alex, Lena, alone, finds her way through the Wilds to a group of people, just like her. Fighting against the society she is forced to live within, escaping the cure that will prevent her from love. While she joins the resistance against the enforced regime, without Alex, she finds herself drifting towards a new love - someone that represents everything she is against.

Review: PANDEMONIUM is quite something. Since I started the Delirium series, I have read Lauren Oliver's other novel, Before I Fall (review) and it is now being made into a TV show with Emma Roberts playing Lena. So starting PANDEMONIUM with that already hinted to me there must be something spectacular about this book that has sparked so much interest.

PANDEMONIUM is narrated through Lena's eyes again but this time, in two different time zones, Now and Then. Then begins immediately after the ending of Delirum and shows an interesting side to Lena in coping with the loss of Alex while fitting in with her tough surroundings. It's fair to say she sticks out a bit at first. Now, which were my favourite parts of the book, details Lena's life as she goes to live in New York City undercover for the resistance along with new characters, Raven and Tack. I loved seeing a new and stronger Lena which let me know that despite the narration in Then, I knew she would be okay in the end. It was interesting having the contrast in characters actually that I think made it much more interesting than if it had been a linear structure.

In the Now parts, we are introduced to Julian. Julian is probably the epiphany of what Lena is against. Being a symbol of the younger generation, he is a part of the DFA (deliria-free America) who fight to cure the whole country of love. He isn't exactly your typical hero, I felt like he was a character I shouldn't like at the beginning but as the narrative progresses, you realise that he is merely following orders from a threatening father, it's something to hide his true beliefs. I actually preferred Julian to Alex. He seemed much more natural and I liked the slow progression of feeling between Lena and Julian who are kind of thrown together unwillingly. Their relationship is unique in that sense and the way everything just kind of happens felt much more realistic in my eyes.


Although normally I'm not a huge fan of poetry or lyrical language, I actually liked the way Oliver does this in PANDEMONIUM. I came to love the mixture of prose, speech and lyrical language that made this a lovely and enjoyable read. It makes it much more imaginative in my head, I feel like I am there, with Lena, among protesters or free in the Wilds. It was done so much better than in Delirium for me.
The concept was really the thing that got me to read this series. And while that is still there and developed further slightly, it isn't as 'Wow this is such a good idea!' than previously. However, I think that kind of suits where Lauren Oliver wanted PANDEMONIUM to go. While she doesn't explore the basics in this society with the whole love cure thing, she replaces it by exploring the intricate network of organisations making up the society that both oppose and support the cure for love. I loved this political aspect of the novel and made it much more tense and surprising, I thought.
The aspect I think that made me not like Delirium as much is that for me, it was unrealistic. In most dystopians, like Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (review), there is always the deep feeling that the situation could happen in modern society. And in Delirium I didn't get that. I could not see love being thought as a sickness. Or the governable able to force a cure upon us. However, with a look at the different worlds within and outside the city walls, I'm not sure why but for me it made the narrative that much more believable.

On a last note, OH MY FRICKING GOD THE ENDING. I have to admit I'm one of these readers who looks at the last page as they're reading (Sorry Lauren Oliver...), normally not really understanding the context of it. But OH MY. Advice? DON'T READ THE LAST PAGE because that just ruins everything! Seriously, the biggest surprise (for me anyway). I'm not sure whether I would have seen it coming had I not known but even though I did know I was still left like 'AHHH. WHAT? LIKE...WHAT?!' To say the least, I have no idea what's going to kick off in Requiem, hopefully I approve.

Overall, PANDEMONIUM is a far cry from my opinion on Delirium, making this series really stand up and be noticed in my eyes. I loved the way Oliver chose to narrate it, the settings, the new characters and what it focuses on which makes this book as good as my favourite dystopian novels. I loved PANDEMONIUM, bring on Requiem!

I give it a 5 out of 5

Author's Website: http://www.laurenoliverbooks.com/
Pages: 375
Publisher: Hodder
Challenges: None

Related Posts:
Review: Before I Fall
Review: Delirium #1


Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Tuesday Top Ten: Books I HAD To Buy...But Are Still Sitting On My Shelf Unread

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

I have too many books really that apply, this week's topic was TOO relevant. 

1. One Day by David Nicholls - Okay, so it was the book everyone was talking about and reading and loving. It was the book I heard about before the whole thing with the movie (another movie I am yet to watch but want to so badly). I saw this in a charity shop for like £2 over a year ago, bought it and since then, it's been sitting on my shelf unread.

2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusack - I saw so many good reviews for this book on the blogosphere and when I was studying Nazi Germany for GCSE's (WHICH WAS 2 YEARS AGO), I bought this book to help me learn it for the exam, because I find it easier to read what I'm learning in history in a novel. Yeah, that happened. 

3. Velvet by Mary Hooper - Mary Hooper is an insta-buy on my watch. Therefore, when this came out a couple of weeks ago, I desperately wanted a copy before everyone else to judge for myself because I love her writing so much. Again, yeah, that happened...

4. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness - When I left secondary school, I was given a voucher with this Governor's award thing to buy some books. I bought this and Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier because they both meant something to me, special books. That was in the summer of 2011. I even went to the signing for A Monster Calls, got it signed by Patrick Ness and Jim Kay and yet I HAVEN'T READ IT (What is seriously wrong with me?!)

5. Across the Universe by Beth Revis - This is actually a proof I discovered in my local British Heart Foundation charity shop which I think I bought for about £1.50. One of the hottest books around, one I knew I would enjoy and all for under £2? Bargain. That would be fantastic...if I'd actually read it straight away. The whole bargain thing has worn off a bit). 

6. The Killables by Gemma Malley - I've been a huge fan of The Declaration series for quite a while now so when I heard about her new book last year, it was a must buy for me. I bought it at work, went home excited to have a copy of this on my bookshelf...and then promptly forgot about it. A whole year - it's time I think. 

7. The DUFF by Kody Keplinger - I bought this with The Killables. When I found out this was FINALLY making its way to UK bookshops, I was so pleased as I'd seen so many great reviews around the blogosphere from American bloggers. Obviously THAT excitement was short lived for me. I really don't know why I do this to myself really...


Have you read any of these books? Which ones would you recommend (so I can *finally* read them!)?

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Discussion: Why I Don't Write

A question I get asked from a lot of posts on this blog is 'Do you write stories? Do you write fiction?'
I'm never quite sure why I get asked this, perhaps because a large majority of book bloggers also write as a hobby/living, perhaps I come across as if I would, not sure.

Simply, the answer is no, I don't.

However, that's not entirely true. Because everyone writes. I write reviews, articles, tweets. But when it come to stories, fiction, tales - everyone at some point has written that story, the story based on something true, a way for your emotions to let loose. Or for that stage where you want to be an Author (the capital was on purpose). Every child has gone through it. Every teenager may have gone through it. And they always will.

In English, when we were asked to do creative writing, the idea didn't quite excite me as it did for others.
When I did have to write something fictional, I based it on other people's work (yeah, plagiarism) or of my own experiences.

I have only ever created one story seriously with the intention of perhaps it being published. When I was in Year 9, I found an old notebook where I had loosely written a story a few years before that basing it about this guy I liked. Now, I cringe greatly even at the thought of my 11 year-old self actually doing that and just hope to God, that neither him or any of his friends find this post (I highly doubt they will but guys, if you have, please don't tease me - I was 11!). Ironically, the guy I had based it on was actually my boyfriend when I found this notebook, two years after being written.

The story was really bad. Like seriously bad despite being written by an 11 year-old. It was set in a school with the characters having the same names as my friends at the time. The girls I didn't like were written in there too as Emma (the main character) started new at a secondary school, became friends with this guy and everything grew from there until his angry ex-girlfriend (part of the group I didn't like) appears and then, things got complicated. Not quite Jane Austen.
The story, while reading though, reminded me of Sarah Dessen. An author that I hadn't discovered in Year 8 and I think this is one of the main reasons I love her. I once wrote stories similar to hers, no wonder I would then love her work.

Anyway, when I found this, I was going through a time when I was bored. I had nothing to do and I needed something to fill the time so I didn't think about this boyfriend, which wasn't going as well as I imagined in my story, my not-so-amazing friends at the time and to fill the time that I should have been out enjoying myself.
So. That is the only time I started to write a story. A novel. A book based on this original story I had found (but severely altered) with a few scenes that eager Sarah Dessen fans would spot instantly. It was a story of loss, friendship and love.
I got quite far into it. I got the end, the beginning and the majority of the middle. But the bit between the middle and end was left blank, a confused 14 year-old Rebecca not quite sure what to type next. That day I got stuck, I left it. And forgot about it. It was only until a couple of nights ago I found the file when I was going through some folders on my laptop saved under 'My Random Story'. It was 98 pages long, a length I couldn't believe and never have achieved on Word before. I started reading it and to be honest, it's not as bad as I remembered. There are parts I have to skip for different reasons such as too much based on reality and bring back memories I have buried, too badly written, or just pure cringe.

For the record, that time of my life is not a period I look back at fondly in hindsight. It was a time where I was too naive, too trusting and thought everything would be perfect if I believed it was. My love life has never been that much of a highlight of my 18 years for numerous reasons and I think comparing what I thought going out with someone was like and what it was in reality show that perfectly. Let's just say I've been a lone wolf for a while now. I may post part of this story one day, but I don't think I'm ready yet to let the whole Internet know.

So I guess the purpose of this post is to clear that up. Yeah I do write. Articles, posts, essays. Yeah I have written a story. It's just something I'm not into now. I would love to finish this story, there's just an infinite amount of endings. Hopefully I'll find one, one day.


Friday, 15 March 2013

Music From My Childhood

I wasn't planning on posting anything today but this morning, while looking over the newest posts from my favourite blogs, I saw Clover from Fluttering Butterflies' post inspired from reading The Future Of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler (my review). I've read it myself, and although I can only remember the latter 90's, the way Emma and Josh are so oblivious to what things like social media or even a computer are is something I grew up feeling until only recently really.

Clover focused on the music from the year the novel is set in: 1996. However, in 1996, I was 1 years-old so as you would expect, I can't remember what music was around then. It's only really until about 2000/2001 that I can remember things like films or TV shows or music, when I was about 5/6. Weird the things you can and can't remember, isn't it?

Tragedy - Steps (1998)

Oh my, who doesn't remember Steps in the UK? In my younger years, I was OBSESSED with Steps, they literally were my favourite band. I'm not sure why I liked them so much.
Steps hold a few memories for me. One of my oldest friends bonded with me as a 5 year-old because we both wanted to be Lisa in a dress-up game in pre-school. Steps was also my first concert, which I went to at Wembley, when I was about 7 or 8. Unfortunately, they broke up two weeks after I saw them live. Tragedy is one of the earliest songs I remember well, and also one of the first songs where I learnt ALL the dance moves. Yes, I was that cool a kid.

Don't Stop Movin' - S Club 7 (2001)

S Club was essentially another version of Steps. Although this band had its own TV show, a movie - ah, lots of my friends remember watching the TV shows on CBBC. One episode I do remember was where one of the band members were in trouble and they had to go to this club in Spain to sort it all out and ended up performing there and then it became the video for Don't Stop Movin' (which became my favourite song of theirs and I made my own dance movies to it). I think I still have an S Club t-shirt somewhere...

Year 3000 - Busted (2003)

Ah, Busted were definitely my first boy-band crushes, although I disliked them by the time they broke up. I'm not sure why I liked them so much, perhaps because I was older, a bit more rebellous and they were rocky-punky-pop. Recently, I was being nostalgic with some friends over a game of Singstar and we chose this song. I haven't sung to the words in, oh, 8 years or so but we ALL knew the words without the lyrics being shown.


I quite enjoyed being a bit nostalgic actually, I've just put on a Steps song I found on iTunes - I still like this band. I may continue this with books, films and TV shows from my childhood - let me know if you would like that! Have a lovely weekend :)

Thursday, 14 March 2013

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer - Michelle Hodkin (#1)

I've seen this book around the blogosphere often but I don't think I had ever seen it in a bookshop nor in a library. Until the other week when I discovered the Young Adult section of my local library and then, discovered this on the shelf.
I've heard lots and lots of incredible things about this book, scratch that, about this series and with THAT cover, it was a little too good to resist picking this up despite the works paranormal and supernatural being on the blurb.

Synopsis: Mara wakes up in hospital after being in a coma for 3 days with no idea how she got there. The last thing she remembers is being in an old, closed asylum with her best friend, a girl she disliked and her boyfriend. Now, her friends are dead after the building fell on top of them, yet Mara is the only one that lived. Her family move to Florida to try and get over the accident that Mara thinks was her fault. On her first day at her new school, Mara sees her dead friends, the classroom ceiling seems to fall in and she starts to see deaths before they actually happen. There's also Noah Shaw, a guy that seems very interested in Mara from their first meeting. But is that just him being interested or is there something deeper? Are the people she sees imagined or real?

Review: I'm not a supernatural/paranormal kind of gal at all. And then when Twilight came along and all those vampire love triangle spin-offs, I was put off my the genre even more.
So I started this book with that thought, which is a little judgemental I know, and I expected myself to dislike this book A LOT. But, I do not see how they can describe this as a paranormal/supernatural genre book. Okay, the whole thing at the end happens but for me, this book was more of a psychological thriller with a dash of romance.

Soon into the novel, you find out that Mara has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder with some of the symptoms are hallucinations, flashbacks and nightmares, all of which feature for Mara. There's this deep undertone at the back of my mind throughout whether the experiences Mara faces are merely the PSD or something more sinister - even by the end, I wasn't entirely sure what was reality or dreamt by Mara. It really makes the novel stand out with this unreliable narrator. Combined with the sarcasm Mara's voice has, she is a likable character that makes a reader really feel for what she is going through.

One of the things that made me annoyed by this novel is that throughout you have this great 'is it real or not?' question for every event that Mara goes through but then, suddenly that all stops at the end and I guess the sinister undertones become more prominent  For me, the whole psychological thriller was kind of forgotten to display a novel that is essentially supernatural. Then, it got even more confusing because more is implied rather than clearly shown (if that makes ANY sense). In a perfect world, I would have liked the thriller part to be a bit longer - like the whole novel...

I don't think Michelle Hodkin can be faulted for her characters and their relationships with Mara that she builds upon. There is every type of relationship shown - friend, enemy, brotherly, boyfriend and that's what makes this book seem more real, more believable, in my eyes. My favourite moments were the ones featuring Mara and her brothers, David and Joseph for the banter, teasing and just plain sibling love. Her friendship with Jamie, although doesn't end superbly (anyone else think he was kind of forgotten about halfway through?), is so lovely and so real that I thought HE would be love interest rather than Noah, hell, I thought there would be another love triangle rocking out. I certainly believe that the relationships felt real, felt genuine and it made this novel even more haunting.

As I mentioned boyfriend in that previous paragraph, I think it's time to talk about Noah. Ah, Noah. I wrote on a status update on Goodreads while I was reading this novel 'I think I'm falling a little bit in love with Noah' which 2 people liked it instantly. It says it all. Wow, he is quite a lovely protagonist - good-looking, bad reputation, slightly mysterious and yet the loveliest human being. It was interesting to see Mara and Noah's relationship evolve from hatred and annoyance to something really lovely and endearing. Some reviewers have commented on the focus of the relationship only really being brought to the surface halfway through, but I liked this. It made the relationship and the mental stability of Mara both focused on particularly at crucial parts.

There's something I think most people dislike about this novel, be it a character, the writing, the pace or the plot. But it's clear that what makes this novel just so great is the fact that most of the time you literally have no idea what is right or wrong. There is something extremely addictive about this series, especially with the cliffhanger ending and the humour running throughout. This isn't a five star book, but it's darn close. I absolutely loved this book.
Book Two will certainly be appearing at some point this year on Rebecca-Books.

I give it a 4 out of 5

Author's Website: http://www.michellehodkin.com/
Pages: 452
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Challenges: None

Monday, 11 March 2013

On My Bookshelf (36)

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

No vlog this time! Just pictures because although I got a huge lovely response, this week is CRAZY with coursework and working and yep. And also my vlogs are special moments where you can finally see my face  and hear my English accent. Right moving on...

Won:
I've had a bit of a crazy few weeks where I've been winning competitions  Like many bloggers, I enter a lot of giveaways but I never seem to win any apart from the occasional few. Well, within a week, I won two giveaways which was a lovely surprise and nice end to the cold winter as we entered March.


- Geek Girl by Holly Smale - As you may not know (I didn't), Holly was holding a giveaway on Twitter of a signed copy of her debut book (which I have already read, here's my review) to the first person to tweet her a picture of her book in a bookshop. Unknowingly I saw her book a couple of days before release when I was in my local Waterstones, tweeted the picture and sure enough, I was being told I had won a signed copy of her book! I read this through Netgalley so it was lovely to now have a hardcover of the book. Thank you again Holly!


- British Baking in 2012 published by BakingMad.com - I won this through a giveaway over at Ginger Ecstasy, a fashion blog I follow. I love cooking and baking but I'm not that great at it and as I need to collect some cook books for university, I thought this seemed like a great giveaway to enter. I had a look at the website which has some great recipes that I may HAVE to try. So watch this space for some baking! Thank you to Rebecca for that!

Rebecca also included a little note on GORGEOUS Cath Kidston writing paper, such a lovely token! 


What did you receive this week? 

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Personal Post: My Dilemma

So I'm in the middle of a bit of a dilemma.
While those younger than me are thinking about GCSE's, colleges and homework, and those older than me are thinking about work, commitments, relationships, I am thinking about university. The place I will spend the next 3 years studying a course that will impact my future career. It's a little mind blowing really how much importance there is on your university choice.
Right now, I'm near the final hurdle. In the next few months, I need to choose my first and insurance choices, then work my butt off in the exams and be jumping for joy when it comes to 15th August or crying in a corner for the rest of the summer. Hopefully the former.

But that's my problem. I don't know what my first choice is between two amazing places. Both are fighting it out both in my mind and in reality to win the prize of being my first choice on my UCAS form - to be the place I will go to in September. And it's starting to drive me crazy.

In one corner there is the University of Winchester. It's a place I kind of threw on my UCAS form at the last minute after discovering it the DAY BEFORE I submitted my application. It sounded good, it did the course I wanted to do and I had only 4 out of 5 options filled. I went to visit the university a few weeks ago, kind of expected NOT to like it. I spent the whole journey thinking 'I'm going to hate it, I'm going to know straight away where I want to go as soon as I walk in'. But that didn't happen.
Winchester is a small university, something I loved about Oxford Brookes (but the course was a bit rubbish). It's only an hour away from where I've always lived and from London where my best friends are staying for university. It's got a good, although not amazing, Media course (that's what I'm applying to do). My favourite block for accommodation is only a 5 minute walk away from the campus and the town centre is 10 minutes away or a short bus ride. The accommodation has different levels of quiet, semi-quiet and noisy blocks so those that although like to go out and party occasionally like me, but hate being drunk or going out EVERY DAY can be together (Quiet basically means loud noises stop at 10pm). The university is very modern with an incredibly active Student Union that organises both parties but also film and comedy nights. The only problem with the place was that the course, although good, wasn't absolutely amazing. It included a placement and the option to study abroad, which I wanted, but the modules are good and I know I'll find them interesting, but I wasn't sitting there in awe.

In the other corner we have Bournemouth University. Bournemouth was one of the first universities I looked at and at the end of the course lecture on an Open Day I went to last June, I turned to my dad and told him I wanted to go there. Just like that. The course is AH-MAZING. It has all the modules I could want, a compulsory placement which has had students at places like the BBC and Penguin (!!) and has a great reputation for being a good place to study Media. While Bournemouth was one of the first to offer Media as a course, Winchester is one of the most up and coming universities in the subject. So you would think 'Well what's your problem?'
My problem is everything else at Bournemouth. The town is well-known for it's nightclubs, bars and night life which is not me AT ALL. I like to go out, but I don't want to get drunk, help people be sick or go out every night and I have a feeling I may be stuck with people like that there. The accommodation is average, the ones I've seen anyway, but it is 10-20 minutes away from the campus depending on which one you choose. However, I guess I commute to college every day now so it'll be pretty similar. The university is also 2 hours away from where I live meaning that I can't just pop home. Whats more, I'm not a huge fan of the sea and the prospect of dodging seagulls throughout my 3 years there is not the most inviting prospect (I'm kind of scared of seagulls...and pigeons - seagulls are BIG).

So that's what I've been thinking about constantly for the last 2 weeks and I have no idea how to resolve or make a decision that is right and what I truly want. If you have any advice about university or helping me make a decision, I would love to hear it. And thank you for reading - just needed to get that all out of my system.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Bringing the Summer - Julia Green

After the craziness of Divergent and Insurgent, I decided to go with something more contemporary next, something I thought would make a nice relaxing and easy read.
I saw this book a couple of times at the library but was never sure about it, it looks too frivolous and the whole love triangle, something my friend would define as typical teen literature. But for some reason, when I was at the library the other day, I picked this up because I was interested in what the outcome would be reading the blurb. To say the least, this was completely different from what I was expecting.

Synopsis: On returning from a summer at the beautiful island of St Allia where her brother died two years previously, the train Freya is on hits a young girl killing her instantly.
Soon, she is brought into contact with a handsome and friendly Gabe who comes with a family that Freya could only dream of having herself. She visits their rural house often and embarks on a friendship with Gabe. His older brother, Theo, starts showing an interest in Freya after their initial meeting. But he is different to Gabe - dark, moody and unpredictable - forcing Freya to make difficult choices about what she really wants.

Review: A few days before I started this book, I was watching an old episode of Heartbeat (it was this soap from the 1990's set in 1960's Yorkshire about this police station in Yorkshire). In the episode, this girl had been kidnapped. Until the last few minutes, I had no idea who the kidnapper was but it turned out to be his young guy who worked at the baker that one of the policemen had talked to earlier in the episode. The guy has been a little obsessed with this girl since they were 12 years-old and she sent him a Valentines Card, he thought she was in love with him like he was with her, and she was just waiting for the right moment to tell him. He took her to this derelict house and said it would be their house to live in forever and no-one would break them apart etc until the police found them. He was pretty obsessed with her.

I started this novel with the assumption from the blurb and cover that this would be the typical, easy beach read to calm me after Insurgent and before I started The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. The novel starts with Freya on the island taking one last swim before leaving her grandfather and his wife to go home before college starts. I was thinking 'Oh love triangle set at an English college, I can deal with this'. And for the most part, the novel is true to that as we're introduced to the host of characters and Gabe' family, wondering whether Gabe does like Freya in that way...all until Theo comes into the story. Theo was an unusual character, he is troubled to say the least having been close to the girl that killed herself, he is quiet and emotionless at times while also extremely passionate about things be it literature, a place or in this case, a person - and it's here my Heartbeat anecdote comes into play. Theo reminded me of the disillusioned, obsessed guy who desperately wanted this companionship despite what the female thought or the consequences and for that, I ended up disliking Theo because of how scary he becomes.
Despite my dislike for Theo, the rest of the cast of characters were well-written and engaging especially Gabe (although I still cringe at the name).

The only other book I've read by Julia Green was Drawing With Light which I thought was okay but the writing was a little rushed and predictable. In BRINGING THE SUMMER, the writing was so vivid and imaginative that I could imagine in my head Freya hiding in a bush when they play a game, the amazing Christmas dinner scene that portrays a heart-warming and traditional Christmas lunch that I wanted to join in with. I especially loved the scenes at the Fielding house with the descriptions of the nature around Freya, the homely, old feeling of the cottage and the way Green shows the house bursting with life and actions that comes across on the page. There are a whole host of characters but thankfully, it never got confusing.
The only thing I would say about the writing was that the relationships for me didn't feel realist, they were formed too fast for my liking especially with Theo. However, considering this is a short book, the relationships did become likable by the end but initially, they didn't seem genuine or real for me as a reader.

This is a good read and I did enjoy this book by the end. It took a while for the narrative to really get going and there were many times where I was like 'No don't do that Freya!' but I was left a little stunned by the ending. The book is powerful especially in highlighting the issue that isn't seen much in literature of obsession be it romantically or not. I had to read a book, Enduring Love by Ian McEwan, last year for English about two guys that are involved in a ballooning accident and one of them becomes obsessed with the other, starts stalking him and threatening the guy's girlfriend (for the record, this would be the last book I would recommend to anyone, it's that bad) but the way obsession is shown is terribly scary but thrilling in a way. That is like BRINGING THE SUMMER where I was both annoyed and scared by Theo and the extent of which he could ruin Freya's formed life after the death of her brother. As I said earlier, this book deceives you to think it will be a light read, one of those pink and fluffy time books, but actually there is a dark and threatening undertone running throughout that dissolves way too quickly than I would have liked at the end.

This is a part sequel to Julia Green's Breathing Underwater but having not read that, I perfectly understood what was happening as I'm guessing what happened in that book is summarised throughout this one. So don't let that put you off this book. Although I sound negative, I did enjoy this book despite my surprise at finding this dark tone to the novel. It's a lovely book for amazing characters and a twisted plot line topped off with a wonderful protagonist.

I give it a 3.5 out of 5

Author's Website: http://www.julia-green.co.uk/
Pages: 272
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Challenges: BBC

Related Posts:
Review: Drawing With Light by Julia Green

Monday, 4 March 2013

Judge a Book By Its Cover

Covers are something I don't think most of us realise are that important. But it is sometimes the cover that makes you judge a book, be it negatively or positively. They are sometimes featuring people, an illustration or sometimes the most effective are just plain. Sometimes simplicity pays.
Some of my favourite covers have included (links to image of cover) the US version of The Forsaken by Lisa M Stasse, The Luxe by Anna Godbersen and all the UK versions of Sarah Dessen's novels - they are divine. Here are some different covers I pulled out of the YA book world to compare.

ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS BY STEPHANIE PERKINS



The left cover is the original cover with the right being the new covers that Stephanie Perkins announced last week. I have to admit...I hated the original cover. The creepy smile of the girl and the awkward black scarf (is it just me or does it kind of NOT fit?) and then the casual creepy hand reaching across...it didn't scream READ ME. However, I love the new covers - they're pretty, appealing and I think look much more sophisticated than the original. I'm glad they kept the Eiffel Tower on there! (My review)

Verdict: NEW COVER


THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER BY SARAH DESSEN



The left cover is the UK cover while the right cover is the newer US edition of this book. I love this book a lot, it's my favourite of Sarah Dessen's writing so I KNOW this book inside out because of the amount of times I've read it. The US cover is interesting and I think definitely better than the original US covers. I like the colours and the simplicity of it, it shows the book well in a sophisticated matter. My only problem is the significance of the bracelet. There is no bracelet in the story so it seems a little weird to have that on the cover - although the wishbone IS relevant to the story.
The UK cover is pretty and I love that the rest of Sarah Dessen's book match. It's interesting to look at and you get a feeling for some of the issues and themes explored in the story from the images inside the heart.

Verdict: UK COVER.


DELIRIUM BY LAUREN OLIVER


The left is the current UK cover (which I believe is being changed soon to incorporate the different covers for Pandemonium and Requiem) while the right is the US cover. Well, well. I don't really know what to think about these covers because neither are particularly spectacular in my eyes. I have a thing about book covers having models staring straight at you on the cover, it's a bit scary or off-putting sometimes. I like the colours for the right US cover, the mixture of blue and green that go well with the nature in the novel (from what I can remember). I dislike the UK one a lot, with the girl I think looking waaay too young to be Lena. The US cover model I can totally see as Lena. (My Review for Delirium) (My Review for Before I Fall)

Verdict: US COVER


THE OTHER COUNTESS BY EVE EDWARDS



The left cover is the US edition and the right cover is the original UK cover when this series was first released. It was then changed to match the other two books in the series (have a look here). What I liked about the UK cover was the plain indication that this was set in Tudor times because of the dress. I also liked that the model was exactly as I imagined Ellie to be like - it just looked like a historical novel to me. The US cover I guess does too but the dress is a little less obvious to show that. I like the sophisticated look of the US cover in the lettering - it's just really the pose of the model that annoys me showing both plainly this is a romance novel but also showing Ellie as a little...I don't know, submissive? If this makes any sense, I think the UK cover makes her look a little bit more independent and stronger - yes, it seems the feminist is coming out of me. My only thing is that the UK cover LOOKS like a typical YA novel when the US cover could be mistaken for adult - which I like. (My Review)

Verdict: Not sure...


What do you think about these covers? Which one do you prefer? What are your thoughts in general about covers?