Sunday, 23 February 2014

On My Bookshelf (44)

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

In the last few weeks it's been incredibly hectic with many, many assignments, going home, my birthday and then more work...a lot has been going on! So here are some of the books I have acquired over the last few weeks (since November which was the last time I did one of these...).

My parents and friends pretty much know that books are a safe bet when buying presents for me. I received A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge and Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed from my parents and friend, Emma. She said that the latter book is so inspirational and so brilliant, she wanted to share it with me.
I asked and got for my birthday Dissolution by C.J.Sansom, Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan and Cress by Marissa Meyer. Dissolution is particularly special as I was recommended repeatedly by an elderly gentleman that always used to come in at the Waterstones bookstore I used to work at. Looking forward to all of these!

I bought Every day by David Levithan because well, I think he is a genius and well, I had a discount. I felt like I HAD to buy Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell when I saw all the raving reviews on the blogosphere from some of my favourite bloggers and as I loved Eleanor and Park also by this author. It sounds amazing!

Related Reviews:

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

Thursday, 20 February 2014

More Than This - Patrick Ness

Source: Borrowed Proof
Pages: 480
Publisher: Walker

There have been times in the last few crazy months where I've been very low about the blogging part of my life. I felt that I'd built this book orientated world around me, working at Waterstones, my A levels and my blog yet it felt like that didn't matter.
However, the day when I was handed this book into my hands to read, that day it made me realise how much I love what I do and how much I love books.
On that day, I was at work and met my friend who had just lost her job at the independent Lion and Unicorn Bookshop, that has recently been shut down. It was a sad time to meet her. This was a place where she had grown up, done work experience at and then had her first job there all while I was over the road at the big chain Waterstones store. She's told me that we're not the reason they've closed although we certainly didn't help but I still feel bad about it all. Anyway, this was the last proof she had received there and they allowed for her to keep it.
The thing about Patrick Ness is that his books have that habit of bringing people together. It was actually this friend that told me to read his Chaos Walking series all those years ago when I'd just become friends with her. I read the first page of The Knife of Never Letting Go, looked at my friend with an expression that read 'Really?' until she assured me I should carry on. And I did. And I realised HOW good his books were. How much I loved reading in general and most of all, that I finally had friends that appreciated reading at the same level I did. It was brilliant. So when my friend handed me this book, it brought together all that.

Synopsis: In one shocking yet chaotic moment, Seth drowns. He is dead. Yet in the confusing moments afterwards, he wakes up in the village he grew up in. Yet the village is now deserted. Houses abandoned, electricity vanished and no traces of people who disappeared a long time before Seth arrives. This is a type of hell, Seth is sure. Until he meets two other young people - Regine and Tomasz - who help try to come to terms with the events that have let them to this moment and discover the mystery behind this abandoned world they now live within.

Review: There are two definite things I love about Patrick Ness.
1) As many, I LOVE his writing, his fluid writing that really puts you in the moment with Seth; the mix of the present and past woven together through the narrative mixed with the different styles of language from the three protagonists that give that distinctive originality of character - there aren't many writers that have the power to that all, and all done incredibly well too.
2) One of the reasons I really love Patrick Ness' writing and himself as a person is his understanding. It's so clear that he understands teenagers and young people and many people will agree with me in saying that there needs to be more people like that around. I've known about Ness' books since I was about 14 and throughout that difficult period of adolescence, it's remarkable how much I can say his books teach you in becoming your own person. Patrick Ness truly made me find friends, the same two people who are my best friends even now, and helped me realise that loving to read wasn't all that bad and that I shouldn't hide it. Anyway, basically, Patrick Ness gets young people. And there are so many party poppers I want to let loose at that statement.

MORE THAN THIS is quite something. There are plenty of issues within this book - sexuality, suicide, depression - which I'm sure some single-minded adult will pick it out as 'reasons why teenagers shouldn't read' or whatever but that is exactly why I liked this book. It's hard to define a genre really for MORE THAN THIS with it being clearly contemporary yet also dabbling in science fiction and mystery to create a novel that is utterly compelling and becomes quite an addictive read. I'll say it now that this book is LONG and for me the first part when Seth is alone, it dragged on a little bit for me. Although soon the narrative starts up and I got kind of hooked on the plot, desperately wanting to know what would happen next.

This book is a lot of things. It means a lot to me for different reasons than others. But apart from that, this is a book that deserves to be tried by everybody, regardless of your normal tastes, walks of life - whatever. This is a book that just needs to be read and shared and read again and shown the love it deserves.

I give it a 5 out of 5

Related Reviews: 
The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness
The New World - Patrick Ness (short story)

Monday, 17 February 2014

Happy 4th Anniversary!

This is something I never thought I would be saying four years ago when I created this blog, so it's incredibly surreal to be celebrating my fourth anniversary. If I think back to this time four years ago, I was going through quite a difficult time, in Year 10 barely 15 years old feeling incredibly isolated by those around me because of my love for books.
Currently, I sit in my university halls bedroom with my flatmates watching Top Gear in the next room who in merely a few months have become my closest friends. I sit surrounded by books on every available surface in my room. I am at university studying a course which without my love for books, my dedication to my blog and without choosing Media Studies at A level, I would never have gotten in this position probably. It's weird thinking of how much has changed in the last four years both personally and on my blog.

This blog has seen many ups and downs and I know that in the long run, I probably will not be able to sustain it. But I hope I'm showing how much I am trying to make it work, but it's hard. It's hard to find time to read nowadays in our busy, busy lives let alone blog. This blog has seen me through GCSE's, A levels and now, a university degree. Probably if I had more time, I would have a more substantial blog with more followers, more dynamic posts and more of better posts. But I'm happy as it is. And the blogging world and my blog itself has opened up a number of opportunities that would have not have been discovered otherwise.

I want to thank all the people who have helped and supported me throughout the four years I have been rattling on, on here - both those I have never met and those who are continually in my life day by day.
The blogging community is continually under threat and the representation of bloggers have both become more normal in society now as well as deteriorated it in some ways. However, the book blogging community continues to be absolutely amazing and there are some really lovely people around the world that come together to discuss and fangirl and chat and scream and express anything and everything about books. Without any of you, I would never have let my love for books become external and without you, I would not be where I am now. You've taught me a lot.

You guys know who you are, but I specifically want to thank Lucy (Queen of Contemporary), Zoe (Bookhi), Clover (Fluttering Butterflies), Emma (Never Judge A Book By Its Cover), all of whom I have known for a long time and are continually wonderful people I have had the chance to come across. 

I wanted to do something to celebrate and that is happening. I have a few things up my sleeve! But that will happen in a few weeks when I have a bit more time to plan, I think I owe you all a little celebration.

Thank you all once again and let's look forward to the fifth year of Rebecca-Books!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Champion - Marie Lu (#3)

*There may be spoilers in this review for those that have not read the first two in the series, Legend (review) and Prodigy (review)*

Source: Own Book
Pages: 369
Publisher: Penguin
Series: #3 in the Legend series
Challenges: None

I am a massive fan of Marie Lu and her amazing Legend series. Her books are entirely unappreciated for how good they are. So much so that when a customer at work asked for Legend specifically, I got a little bit excited, raced over the section to get him the book and told him how brilliant it was on the way. I think my reaction scared him a little bit.
Anyway, I have been waiting and waiting for the third and final book in the series since THAT ending in Prodigy, I literally had no clue what would take place in the next book. So I was pretty excited for this one to say the least!

Synopsis: June and Day have given up so much for helping the Republic and now the country is on the brink of evolving into something good. June is now in a elite government position as one of the Princeps-Elect while Day is in a high military position. However, just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak threatens the Colonies and war seems to be inevitable. This plague is powerful and deadlier than ever and it is up to June and Day once again to try and save their country.

Review: This series, and this book alone, have done things that many other series have not succeeded in. The first book was like your typical dystopian - horrible divided America, divided poor and rich sectors, two people meet and fall in love and work together to make things better blah-blah-blah (for the record I love dystopia so the whole sameness thing doesn't bother me too much). However, I liked the fact it was military based, that there was an equal share of June and Day - not one dominating in the narration. I loved how political this series is - I just really enjoyed and loved this series. The second book blew the first out of the water, it was just so good. In all honesty, I don't think anything could match up to that second book. But the third book made a pretty good stab at it.

This book takes the reader in a number of different directions, making you try and predict the ending without having much success until the ending finally hits. As by all Marie Lu's books, I was constantly kept on my toes and for a book that I took me a while to read with lots of university work mingling into my reading time, that really helped to make me absorbed into the action when I did return to this book.
There is just something so BRILLIANT about this book, something I can't put my finger on. I think it is the plot and the premise, but mostly I have to credit Marie Lu's way of writing, which is incredible. This series of books are quite short, particularly as I reflect now on what happens within them. Yet she does this marvellous thing where we have all this intense action, chaos and emotion and then it all slows down, quieten down for a moment when there are scenes of intense emotion or sadness or love. It's something I admire quite a lot, her ability to pace a book - such as an action packed dystopia - like that.

Readers are returned to the ups and downs of the amazing characters of June and Day in the beautifully handled duel narrative. Normally, I prefer one or the other when there are two protagonists, but I can't help but loving both of these characters (although I see a lot of myself in June). The addition of Auden and Eden was great too and I loved both of these characters. It was nice to finally have them in the spotlight of the narrative as they've both been in the background for the series. There is a bit of love triangle lingering in the background of the narrative, which normally I would roll my eyes at...but somehow it works. Not entirely sure how, but it just does.

I cannot finish this review without talking about the ending. Oh my. Lu's endings are brutal for the frequent use of cliff hangers, adding to my love-hate relationship with them. I know many don't particularly like the ending to this book and the series, but I think it's perfect, particularly for the relationship of June and Day. It's ambiguous, almost annoyingly so. But there are many hints for the reader to make up their own mind of the overall solution. In my mind, I have a pretty good idea of what happens after the pages end, my own piece of imagination, my own interpretation. I love books like that.

This review doesn't really justify the beauty of this book. It was a book I thoroughly enjoyed and a great end to one of the best series I have encountered. This series is so unappreciated and I wish I could get lots more people reading this series and giving it the recognition it deserves. CHAMPION had the perfect ending in my opinion, as well as a decent beginning and middle! It's sad to say goodbye to the Republic, to June and Day. But at least Lu has done it in a way that shows the best parts of this series.

I give it a 5 out of 5

Other Books by this author:
Legend (#1)
Prodigy (#2)

Monday, 3 February 2014

Welcome to a new 'Rebecca-Books'...

Hello, I am back from the deep clutches of university essays, academic journals and copious amounts of coffee. It's been a bit tough but it's all over now and I want to focus more on the things I was doing before I went to university, like my blog.

I suddenly came to the realisation that I'm going to be entering my last year of adolescence on 6th February, when I turn 19. Which is both really great and really scary. I started this blog when I turned 15, so yep, you do the maths. This blog is 4 years old on 17th February! 
I'm kind of both surprising and incredibly proud that I was able to keep this blog running on and off for the last four years. It's been difficult as I've had to juggle GCSE's, A levels and university amongst blogging, but I'm still here and active.

To celebrate my four years of blogging, I am going to re-invent this blog because let's face the facts, it certainly needs it. And that's when I need your help! Please tell me your thoughts about the blog in the comments below, I have a thick skin so please be honest (although not rude or mean). I want to really improve this blog particularly for those that have followed for a long time and for those bloggers that are my friends (you know who you are).
As you can see, I'm changed my design thanks to the help of my friend Cecilia, who drew the picture (she's amazing at art and graphics) and my flatmate, Matt, who put the header together on Photoshop and generally told me bluntly that he thought of my old design.

I'm not entirely sure what I'll be doing specifically for my blogoversary (any suggestions would be appreciated!) but it'll probably be a week of me bombarding you with posts about books and blogging. I may need some help from anyone that would like to guest post, so please let me know if you want to get involved. 
I know for sure that I'm going to do a giveaway...YES FINALLY A GIVEAWAY ON REBECCA-BOOKS. It's taken me 4 years to work up to that...

Anyway, basically I'm back and I have a review, a personal post and a new 'On My Bookshelf' coming up in the next week or so, in between birthday things. It's good to be back!