Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Review: Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Emily's best friend Sloane disappears, almost without a trace - the only thing left is a to-do list.

On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that wallflower Emily wouldn't normally do, and definitely without her best friend. But what if completing the list could bring Sloane back?

Dance until dawn? Sure, why not?

Kiss a stranger? Um...

Go skinny dipping? Wait... what?

Emily only has the summer to check everything off Sloane's list. The question is, what will she find at the end of it? (Goodreads description here)

Shall we all just take a minute to appreciate how beautiful this cover is. That font though (it makes me swoon). Seriously. I think this is a pretty good description of what's inside. Very pretty, very american, and very very contemporary. That certainly isn't a bad thing though, it was just what I was in the mood for. And yes, I have been singing the Kelly Clarkson song ever since I read it. It is a cracking tune though, so I've linked the video here.  

The concept of the book, basically a lonesome teenager completing a bucket list in order to make friends, and change for the better, though not original, was very well pulled off. The actual list was quite unique, and there were some very specific  tasks on there. For example 'hug a jamie'. Now i've never seen that one before!

The characters in the book were also very well developed. Even Sloane, who was the disappeared best friend. Although we only met her in flashbacks (nearly) I thought I had a real sense of her character. At first I was under the impression that she was a perfect american teenager, living the dream. But we soon became aware that this wasn't really true, and she just created this image to cover up everything that was wrong with her family. 

The narrater and main character, Emily, was also very relaistic. She was likeable and quite relatable. Although she was bland at times, this just added to how endearing the book was and how relatable Emily was. I got the impression that every reader would interpret her in their own way, which is something I really think shows a good author. It made me realise that romance and amazing friends are out there! (Man, I will read this back and cringe sooooo much!) However she was still quirky at times, and I can sort of imagine being friends with her in real life.

This book was 450 pages long, but I found it quite a quick read, perfect for the holidays! It wasn't up there with Anna and the French Kiss, but it was still very good, and now, whenever I think of contemporary, I will think of this. It basically fitted that genre perfectly. I was lovey dovey, but didn't take itself too seriously, and a real coming of age story.

I give this 
I will certainly be picking up Morgan Matson's other book, Amy and Roger's Epic Detour.

Have you read Since You've Been Gone? What do you think makes an MC relatable?

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Top 5 Friday: YA Trilogies

It's the big one! While doing this I came to the realisation that I haven't actually read that many YA trilogies, but I still have 5 that I think it's worth you reading, and re-reading as much as possible!

1. The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare
These books are absolutely fanstic. I'd forgotten how much I loved them until my friend read them recently and spent forever talking about them, so my love was rekindled. The world was perfection, and so were the characters (mainly Will Herondale!) (The goodreads page is here)

2. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Stephanie Perkins is the queen of contemporary. These books are perfection, the characters are amazing and the feels are uncontrollable. At the moment there are only two books out (Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door) but the third and final instalment, Isla and the Happily Ever After is due out in august. Words cannot describe my excitement!(The goodreads page is here)

3. Divergent by Veronica Roth
Yes, these were bound to be on here. They're just such good books, and the world is equally amazing. Contrary to popular opinion, I really like Allegiant. Though I had to re-read and certain bit to make sure it was true, I think that Veronica Roth made a good and very very bold decision. (The goodreads page is here)

4. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
This is getting a bit repetative, but the world in these books is so great. It's such a stereotype of the future (with hoverboards) but people are rebelling, and I've never read anything quite like it before. You're probably thinking, I thought that this was a series, but extras is a companion novel, so technically it's a trilogy. (The goodreads page is here)

5. Legend by Marie Lu
These books! It was watching the best film in the world. I was so lost in them, they've all sort of blurred into one. I absolutely loved the characters. They were so realistic, yet unique and oddly relatable. (The goodreads page is here)

So there you have it! My slightly predictable, but very well loved list of YA trilogies.

What are your favourite YA trilogies? Do you have any recommendations for Top 5 Friday topics?

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself—and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined. (Link to goodreads page)

I finally got round to reason this! It's been on my TBR for so long, and now I'm free!! I first heard about this book on epic reads, who are constantly raving about it! I went into it knowing very little, and from knowing what happens I think that's for the best. It is quite a predictable book, and having as little info as possible really helps  to make it more unpredictable. 

These books are a YA trilogy which are set in a futuristic USA. I marathoned this series over about 4 days, so all of the books have sort of blurred together. Therefore I doing a review of the while trilogy. This shouldn't contain any spoilers either. 

I really loved this book! As I was reading it I found myself grinning uncontrollably and having such a warm feeling inside. This was mainly in the scenes between America and Maxon, they were so cute together. 
Sometimes the way she was on the border line between him and Aspen was very annoying. Occasionally I felt I didn't exactly  know where she stood, and how she was feeling. I wasn't sure how it happened because the novel is written in first person, but I often felt left out of her feelings. However this could be because she was unsure of where she stood, I just found it confusing at times.

However this was probably the only part of the book I found at all confusing. In general the story was very easy to follow. And although it was get in a dystopian world, the isolated nature of the palace made the dangers outside very rare and easy to understand. We did see the outside world in the later books, and I think that without the further world building, just the focus on the competition would be a little boring.  

Saying this I loved the concept of the competition. Although it has been done before, I thought it was so unique. It captured teenage girls so well! The competition and rivalry, yet the love, and the fake hating. It seems that everyone hated each other, but actually they are really good friends. There were certainly so characters within the selection! I think that Cass did really well at making a variety of character within the girls. They all seemed to be contenders and each had very individual personalities. There was potential for them to be really similar, but they were written, and seen through Americas POV, so we got a good perspective on Americas character as well as the other girls. 

America was a very typical female protagonist. Unaware of how perfect she was and suitably beautiful. She came from the bottom, and rose to fame she didn't really want (*cough* Katniss). I found it very difficult to find faults in her, apart being a bit cynical. This again, is a very common trait in female protagonists, being wary and unwilling to accept things at first. I thought she would be something different, but she was nothing special. Regardless I did still like her, and she was quite relatable. 

One of my pet peeves is disjointed conversations. In this it was some by there being loads of thought in the middle of the conversations. So the conversations didn't seem to flow, and I kept on having to look back to remember what had previously been said.  

Saying this, I thought that the book was very well written. It was a pretty easy read, and I also read it really quickly. The books are about 300 pages each, so for me they all sort of blurred together into a mega book. I've seen it described as reality TV meets dystopian, and this is a very accurate description! Nowadays most books are a combination of genres, but this is very drastic, and I've never read such a chick-lit dystopian before.

Although I probably wouldn't reread this book, I would definitely recommend it. I think it's perfect for people who want an easy summer read, but can't bear to let go of the dystopian genre. 

I give this 
because I think that it was good, but not one is my favourites. If you're looking for something warm and fuzzy, but not to shallow then this is perfect!

Have you read The Selection? Do you like it when very different genres are combined? Let me know in the comments!


Monday, 21 July 2014

Booktubeathon Summary

Last week I did the Booktube-a-thon!! (or tried...) This is a week long readathon run by Ariel Bisset (off youtube) and the challenge was to basically read as many books as possible from monday 14th-21st of July. I saw Ariel's video about it and knew that I had to do it (booktubeathon's youtube channel is linked here).

On reflection it wasn't a great time considering last week was something called celebration week, in which we go on school trips everyday. Mine included a walk (that wasn't fun), and Blackpool Pleasure beach (which was much better!). This meant that I had very little time at home, I also had a ballet exam yesterday and spent most evenings at the river with my friends, trying to recover from the heatwave in England. It was very fun, but it did mean that I had hardly any time to read. 

The Readathon included a selection of challenges that we could choose to try and complete during the week. It also included vlogging challenges, but I refuse to vlog! The reading challenges were: 
A book with pictures.
Start and finish a series.
A book with red on the cover.
A book someone else picks out for you.
A book from the genre you've read the least this year.
A book to movie adaptation
Read seven books

My aim was to complete all the challenges, apart from read 7 books. How is that possible? You may ask. Well, you can double up challenegs. For example I could read a book to movie adaptation with red on the cover. However you weren't allowed to 'triple up'. Overall I completed 3 challenges and read 4 books. I'm not too disappointed with this, but I think I could've done better. After all, this was my first reading challenge. 

The challenges I completed were:
A book with picture (Since you've been gone)
A book with red on the cover (The Elite)
Start and finish a series (The Selection trilogy)

So, the books I read!
I knew that I wanted to read a trilogy because my YA trilogy TBR is never ending! I chose the selection by Kiera Cass as I've amazing things about these books. I've also heard them be described as a cross between reality TV and that sounded perfect. These books were amazing! They were quite quick, and I often found myself grinning uncontrollably while reading the scenes between Maxon and America (especially in the first book, The Selection. This series consisted of The Selection, The Elite and The One. This ticked off two challenges, as it is a full series, and The Elite had red on the cover. I should be reviewing these soon.

Then I attempted to read Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. However 50 pages in I gave up as it was taking me so long to read, and although I really liked it, I needed speed!

So my 4th and final book was Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson. I recently bought this book and was planning on saving it for one of my contemporary cravings (they're very common!). But I gave in and really loved it. It was quite and easy read, but was on the long side for a romance. It was so summery and I learned a lot with the main character.(expect a full review soon)

Did any of you do the Booktubeathon? Do you like reading challenges? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Top 5 Friday: Adult Books

Now, I know it's not Friday, but I was on school trips all last week, so my time has been very minimal! So this weeks top 5 Friday is adult books. While I prefer YA books, I am very conscious of the fact that sometimes I crave something a bit more sophisticated and want to read adult books. I haven't really read many adult books, but these are my favourites of the ones that I've read. (Click on the links for their Goodreads pages)

1. Room by Emma Donoghue

Now I was arguably too young when I read this book (12) but I really enjoyed it. It was harrowing and like nothing I'd ever read before. It covered new topics to me, and when reading it I felt very sophisticated in deed!

2. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

I read this when I was quite young (12 again), but I just loved it. Although it was a challenge to get through, it really began my love for historical fiction. I find some Philippa Gregory to have too much internal thought, but I thought this one had a good balance. (And it has a film which always helps!)

3. 1984 by George Orwell

You've probably heard this all before, but this book really makes you think and puts things in perspective. I only read it revelry, and felt like it was compulsory considering I love the dystopian genre so much. It was amazing. I was a bit intimidated by it before I read it, but I don't know why!!

4. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

I watched the film of this a few years ago, then spotted it on my mums bookshelf and thought I may as well read it. It's soooooo much better than the film. It's not at all clique, and heaven is so much more believable to me than it was in film.  I found the perspective on how her family fell apart, and came back together without her so interesting.

5. Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart

Words cannot describe how much I love Miranda Hart. She's a hilarious British Comedienne who's so relatable. If you've watched her TV or listened to some of her old podcasts, you may recognise some of the jokes. But personally I will never tire of the things she says! 

Have you read any of these? What are your favourite adult books? Let me know
in the comments!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.
This description was taken from Goodreads, linked here.
I ventured outside to do some reading!
This book was nice. Meaning that I enjoyed it, but I didn't think it was anything special. However there was one thing I really did love, and that was the world. The whole situation with the ley lines and involving psychics was really cleaver. I thought it was very original, and they way it woven into the story set in modern day America was really clever. Blue (the MC) came from a family of psychics, her mum and all of her aunts were psychic, but not her. However she does become very interested in the psychic world. I thought this made her a very good protagonist, because she was totally believing of the world, so eager discover more. Without this, I think the book would've been a bit drab. 

One thing that I didn't like so much were the characters. While they were all very unique and realistic, they just weren't very well developed. I understand that the author wanted them to be mysterious and uncertain, but I felt like I didn't know them at all. We were supposed to get to know the 'Raven Boys' at the same time as Blue, but I always felt left behind in their friendships. T
Blue always seemed strangely at ease with these people she'd always been so sceptical of, I couldn't help feeling like some of their interactions had been missed out. I found them all very uncertain of their personalities, and while their significant traits were almost fored upon as (as I found with Ronan), I thought them all to be very unpredictable and undefined in their actions. 

The book was narrated from a third person perspective, and I thought this just added from my exclusion from the story. For example with Blue, I never really knew how she was feeling about the other characters, apart from the obvious opinions that everyone was bound to share, she didn't really have any unique thoughts, especially concerning her feelings towards Adam. 

The world, though great, wasn't that well developed either. However, I think this was a good thing, as it made everything more mysterious, making the book more unpredictable. 

All criticism aside though, I did enjoy this book. It was a fun read unlike anything I've read before. It did also confirm my (almost!) dwindling love for YA. It was a very YA book, and uncertain romance, a quirky protagonist, and abolished sterotypes. The perfect recipe for a great YA book!!

Rating : 3.5/5

Have you read The Raven Boys? What did you think? 

Friday, 11 July 2014

Classics TBR

I love classics, and for somebody who loves reading classics as much as I do I read embarrassingly little. Why? You proboably ask and to be frankly honest I'm not entirely sure. I think its' because classics aren't particularly easy reads, whereas YA books take minimal effort to complete for me. Thought I think I often forget just how rewarding I find it when I'm finished and can think about what I've read. So, in an effort to read more classics I've complied a TBR of classics that  feel guilty about not reading, and really want to get me teeth stuck into. 

1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

I feel pretty bad about not reading this yet. It's been sitting on my bookshelf for years just waiting patiently to be read. I attempted to start it about a month ago, but feel asleep, so put it back down. (It was very late and I was tired, it was nothing personal towards the book!)

2. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

I don't really know what this one is about, but my english teacher keeps telling me to read. My teacher seems to have a pretty similar taste to me in books, so I think I should give it a go. 

3. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Like most people, I absolutely love the BBC TV series. But, also like most people, I almost always read the book before I see the film. This is an exception and I have to sort that out. I've heard mixed reviews of this, but I'm prepared to look past those and just concentrate on trying not to let my modern view on Sherlock Holmes change my perspective on the story. 

4. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Considering most of my friends are Lord of the Rings superfans, I feel extremely bad for not reading this, and lying to them about it... oops. In truth I have read half of this, but when I was about 9 and too young to appreciate it. So it's about time I read it before I have to think of an excuse not to attend another their Hobbit film marathons!

5. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

I have read and loved Pride and Prejudice, and have been meaning to read this for ages. I have heard that it's better than my beloved Pride and Prejudice, so want to test the theory!

So that is my classics TBR. However these are only the top 5 (in no particular order) because I don't want to drown in Classics 

Do you have any recommendations for me? What's your favourite classic? Leave your answers in the comment section! 

Top 5 Friday: Beach Reads

Summer is fast approaching, and that means it's the season for beach reads!! (sorry if this is a bit late for some of you) However I don't normally like conventional beach reads. By that I mean quite light, romance books, which I tend to find boring. So all of the books have a twist, and are books I wish I read while on my holidays. I've linked all of their Goodreads profiles in case you want more info. 

1. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Words cannot describe how much I love this book. It's a romance story about a girl who moves to Paris. But it's so much more! The story is so realistic and this is up there with one of my favourite books of all time.  Even if you don't normally like romance, give this a go. I think that everyone will love it!

2. How They Met and Other Stories by David Levithan

Now this one is a book of short stories. All the stories are about love and were written by David Levithan every valentines day since he was in high school.(How cute is that?!)This means that they stories have an amazing variety, and are really heartwarming. Although it is often hard to connect with characters in short stories, I still really wanted to read on and find out what would happen in the next story. 

3. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

No list of unconventional beach reads would be complete without some John Green, and I thought that this one was most fitting. I didn't find this too deep, but it was still very interesting. It was also very original, and I certainly wasn't bored!

4. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Again, this is a love story, but it is very unconventional. The characters were very unique, but I still loved them and really related o them. This book really showed how pure and limitless love is, but wasn't all romance. Defiantly up there in my favourite books(again!).

5. Shipwrecked by Siobhan Curham

I loved this book soooo much! It's about a girl who gets shipwrecked on the island, and then has to try and uncover the Voodoo legend which surrounds it. I was so creepy and I became really attached to the characters. It does have a love story in it, but this isn't one of the main features of the book. I just found it a quick, but really exciting read that I would recommend to people who haven't really read any paranomal YA before (and everyone else!)

Happy reading!

Have you read any of these books? What's your favourite beach read?

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Currently Reading: The Raven Boys

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them--until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.

His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can't entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn't believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she's not so sure anymore.

I picked this at the library. About 6 months ago... I kept on forgetting about it, ok?! I haven't completed any books by Maggie Stiefvater before, but have heard great things about this book and it sounded like something a little different to what I normally go for. I did attempt to read Shiver from the wolves of mercy falls trilogy about a year ago, but I really didn't enjoy it. I just found it dull, and not very gripping, so I gave up about half way through. However I thought it was about time for me to give Maggie Stiefvater another go. I'm only about 30 pages in but so far I am quite enjoying it, and look forward to doing a review when I'm finished! 

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

What, Where, When and Why I Read

I have realised that I haven't actually formally introduced myself. So I thought I'd answer a few questions about my reading habits, so you can get to know me a little better.

I LOVE Pride and Prejudice!
What do I read?

I'm not fussy, but I tend to prefer YA books to adult books. However recently I have been reading more adult books. In terms of genre I like dystopian and historical fiction. Basically I love anything not set in a world that isn't like ours. However I do also like contemporary, as long as it's original and not too lovey dovey. Although I do like romance, when the books is solely about a relationship I do tend to find it boring. There are exceptions though, mainly Eleanor and Park, which I absolutely loved!

Where do I read?

Anywhere! I love to read outside when it's sunny (which isn't very often in England!) But mostly before I go to sleep, which is why I'm so tired most of the time! But I don't like reading when there are lots of people around, or when there's too much background noise. (I'm easily distracted!)

When do I read?

Normally at night, but when I'm not tired and wake up early I do read in the mornings. Also sometimes in the afternoons when I get home from school (provided I'm not bombarded with homework, and there isn't a new episode of Made in Chelsea!)

Why do I read?

Now this is a tricky one! The textbook answer would be to escape, which is true. But my life isn't too bad, and most of the time I don't feel a need to escpae. The main reason I read is to discover others worlds. I love the fact that an Author makes a whole new world, from a totally blank canvas. Essentially that there is an opportunity to start again, and create something totally unique and potentially perfect (though that would be very boring!). So don't go telling me that fiction isn't real!

I hope that was an enjoyable introduction!
p.s My name's Sarah

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Review: Wonder by R.J Palacio

'My name is August. I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.' Auggie wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old. He does ordinary things - eating ice cream, playing on his Xbox. He feels ordinary - inside. But ordinary kids don't make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. Ordinary kids aren't stared at wherever they go. Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life. Now, for the first time, he's being sent to a real school - and he's dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted - but can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, underneath it all? 

I've sent this book so many times in bookshops and on blogs, but have never picked it up, until I saw it in then library and thought I may as well. I certainly don't regret it! 

This book was so moving and relatable, I loved it. However it showed how harsh reality could be, but in the simplistic, pure way that children see the world. I think this is what I liked so much. It was just the truth, so personally I didn't feel too weighed down by the book. I can see how mother would be very upset but this book,but personally I found to real. (don't fear, I cried!)

I've never been in any situation similar to August, but I still the found all of the characters extremely realistic. When I was reading about the different characters (which were very well developed may I add)I kept on thinking. 'Oh, they're like so and so' or 'Wow, don't I know them?!' Even with August, his personality was so real, I can image it was quite hard for the author to develop august and his acceptance of his face abnormality. And also with Jack, he was just like so many ten year old I've encountered. At first he seems nice, but later we discover he can be a but harsh. However he doesn't realise the severity of what he's doing, and is just struggling to fit in, like so many others his age. 

This leads me to my favourite feature of the book, the viewpoints (yes that's plural). The book was narrated from  about 9 (don't hold me to that!) viewpoints of various people in Augusts life. My favourite was his sister, Via's viewpoint. She was very truthful, and I liked seeing the effect that Augusts face abnormality had on his family. She was very honest, but still humorous, and her unconditional love for him was very heart warming.

So I loved this book. Although it's a YA book, I think it 
would be suitable for middle grade+. It really has changed my perspective on others and has taught me that your inside can be so 
different from your outside. (So clique!) but that's what the book aimed to do, and it has certainly been successful.

***** (that's 5 stars for future reference) 

READ IT! That's all I have to say. 
Have you read Wonder? What did you think? 

Friday, 4 July 2014

Currently reading: We Were Liars

A beautiful and distinguished family.

A private island.

A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.

A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

Surprise, surprise, another person reading We Were Liars by E. Lockhart! I've heard so much about this book and was planning to save it for the holiday. But then my friend mentioned it was only £2 on kindle and I couldn't resist. Turns out it was £2.99 but oh well, not bad! As you are probably all too aware, this book had been everywhere in the last few weeks. I have to admit the marketing campaign did work. I was very intrigued with what could be so secret about it, and decided to read it. (Also I really like the cover, which always helps)
So far I'm not regretting it!