Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Book Review | Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard

My Rating: 8/10
Beautiful Broken Things book review by Sara BarnardPublished: February 25th 2016
Pages: 322
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary 
Amazon | Goodreads | Book Depository

Caddy is a typical sixteen year old who lives in Brighton. She is from a good family and attends private school but she wishes she was a bit more interesting like her best friend Rosie who attends the local comprehensive school.

Despite going to different schools Caddy and Rosie are inseparable, that is until a new girl starts at Rosie's school. Suzanne is beautiful, funny, king and warm, and at first Caddy thinks she is stealing her best friend away from her, but after warming to her Caddy soon realises that there is a lot more to Suzanne than meets the eye and she is hurt. Very hurt.

This book deals with some pretty heavy topics including abuse, mental illness and self harm. These are all very tricky topics to deal with but they are handled very well and as this book is told from Caddy's point of view it almost acts as an education as this is the first time she has ever had to deal with these types of issues.

Sara Barnard writes the teenage voice incredibly well. Not once does it come across as false or try hard and I definitely remember having very similar feelings when I was sixteen. All three of the girls in the book are well fleshed out with very distinct personalities and all of them reminded me of someone I knew when I was younger.

It's incredibly refreshing to see a YA book based entirely on friendships and I loved this aspect of the book. I would happily give this book to my eleven year old cousin and think that it is a good read for her.

Beautiful Broken Things is a great read that will have you grinning from ear to ear but will also have you on the edge of tears. It is an easy read and flows really nicely and I think this is a great book for many different audiences.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Book Review | Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

My Rating: 5/10
everything everthing book review by Nicola Yoon
Published: September 1st 2015
Pages: 306
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary 

Amazon | Goodreads | Book Depository

Madeline is allergic to everything and has spent most of her life not being able to go outside, doing her school lessons online with the only people allowed in her little bubble are her nurse and her mum, that is until the new family moves in next door.

Everything, Everything is quite a sweet book as it follows Maddy and her first love which is plagued with difficulties such as the fact that she can't actually go outside to see Olly and the fact that she is so allergic to everything so that contact with Olly may actually kill her.

The book is told from Maddy's point of view, but we also get to see text messages and IM's between Maddy and Olly as well as some illustrations and homework assignments from Maddy which help make this a little different to read and the illustrated parts I found to be very sweet and humorous as they explore the emotions everyone has with their first love.

Whilst the first romance aspect of this book is very cute and relatable (despite the fact Maddy can't leave the house) I found that the rest of the book was not as well done and left it feeling undeveloped. Olly has his own issues but these are quite glossed over which makes certain parts of the story lack the emotional impact they were meant to have and the tone of the story completely changes towards the last quarter of the book and goes in a direction that if the book was longer would've been explained better but as it is felt a bit rushed.

Overall I think this book is fine. It's an easy read and it has it's good parts that will make you smile but I feel like Nicola Yoon has just tried to pack too many elements into a short book which makes it end up falling a little bit flat.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Book Haul | 10 books for £20

a haul consisting of 10 books and a cat

OK ok, I know I said at the start of the year that I was going on a book buying ban until I had read the 17 books already on my TBR pile but the other day Amazon had a special code, you could get £10 off orders over £50. I joked that it would be great to get £50 worth of books but then a friend informed me that the code stacked up with their 3 for £10 on selected paperbacks offer, so what that essentially meant was, get your total to £50 and both of the offers would be used. After adding the 9 books from the selection on offer my order was £48 so I added another book I was after to make the total £54 and bish bash bosh, you get 10 books for £20!
Unfortunately the £10 offer is no longer active, but the 3 for £10 on selected paperbacks is still on and there is quite a decent selection available as you can see by this haul.

Oh, and of course the cat had to climb in the empty Amazon box. Stupid cats.

the raven boys

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater - Blue has been told that if she kisses a boy he will die unless he is her one true love. That's pretty deep right? So of course she meets a boy she falls for and so on. This is a series I've been hearing a lot of good things about so wanted to give it a go. 

Roald Dahl's book of Ghost Stories - This is a collection of 14 of Roald Dahl's favourite ghost stories. I have been on a massive paranormal kick recently so when I saw this it instantly caught my attention and I've been after a good collection of short stories for a while.

Looking for Alaska by John Green - Here is an embarrassing secret, I've never actually read anything by John Green! Although most known for The Fault in Our Stars, some people say Looking for Alaska is his best work. A contemporary YA that looks at first love. I can tell this one is going to be a tear jerker.

The End of the World Running Club by Adrian Walker - This is a book that always comes up when I'm looking for books that The Last Days of Jack Sparks readers also enjoyed. This is a post apocalyptic thriller about someone who finds himself stranded on the wrong side of the country after the world has ended.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer - This is the only book on this list that isn't included in the 3 for £10 offer but I have heard a lot about it on BookTube and wanted to pick it. It's the first book in The Lunar Chronicles, which are essentially retellings of classic fairytales. Cinder is the retelling of Cinderella, but in this version Cinder is a gifted mechanic and cyborg. 

young adult

The Girl of Ink & Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave - Isabella is forbidden to leave the island but dreams of faraway places. When her friends go missing she volunteers to search for them leading to an adventure featuring an ancient myth. I didn't know too much when ordering this book besides the fact that the book itself is gorgeous with each of the pages being decorated.

The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild - The main character Annie discovers a painting in a junk shop whilst looking for a gift for an unsuitable man. It turns out the painting she has bought is more than she bargained for and ends up opening up the art world to her, full of Russian oligarchs, avaricious Sheikas, desperate auctioneers and unscrupulous dealers, all scheming to get their hands on her painting. This book has received a whole host of book nominations and has been on my to buy list for a while. 

Geek Girl by Holly Smale - The Geek Girl series is a super well known middle grade series that I've always thought would be a fun read but never actually got round to reading. Harriet is your typical geek and sadly isn't liked by many of the kids at her school, but one day she is picked out by a top modelling agency and this follows what happens after. 

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan - This is another series that is huge on BookTube. Percy Jackson is the son of a Greek god, who is trying to go about having a normal life but Zues, king of the gods thinks Percy has stollen his lightning. I'm a huge Greek mythology fan so this should be a fun read.

The Sin Eaters Daughter by Melinda Salisbury - Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches, so obviously that doesn't make her the most popular of girls. Twylla is bethroved to the prince as supposedly his royal blood means he isn't affected by Twylla but then a new guard comes on the scene and..... well you get the picture! I saw this at YALC last year and it looked great but I haven't had the chance to pick it up until now.

So that is it! I think 10 books for £20 is well worth breaking my ban, and to be fair I did get through 7 of the titles on the list before breaking, that must count for something right? 

Friday, 20 January 2017

Book Review | The Graces by Laure Eve

a book review of a young adult fantasy book
My Rating: 8/10

Published: September 1st 2016
Pages: 415
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Amazon | Goodreads | Book Depository

The Graces are a family who ooze glamour and everyone wants to be around them, including new girl River. The Graces lead a seemingly perfect life, although there are often rumors of them using magic which seems to only attract River to them even more.

In The Graces we follow River as she joins her new school in Cornwall and see how she goes about trying to befriend The Graces and also win the affections of Fenrin, the brother who everyone seems to love and has a different girlfriend every week.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I found it was one of those that I kept reaching for and reading big chunks of it at a time. It was very easy to read and it was a lovely slow burner, one of those books that doesn't have a giant event but is more of a slice of life type of books if that makes any sense?

The magic elements of this book are nice and subtle too, this is more of a magical realism book that takes inspiration from the Wicca style of magic rather than a more fantasy style with wands, secret locations etc like what is seen in Harry Potter.

My one criticism of this book is the way it ended. This book is going to have a sequel which I am very skeptical of. Personally I think this book could have easily been a stand alone and I feel like the way it ended was very out of character for River, but I appreciate that it is setting itself up for the sequel. If the sequel is great then the ending of The Graces is fine, we will just have to wait and see.

My feelings on the ending are not enough to put me off this book though and overall I really enjoyed it. If you are looking for a book with magic realism or a nice slower paced book this is a good one for you.


Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Giveaway | A Signed Copy of One by Sarah Crossan

a book giveaway

If you follow my blog than you may have seen this post about me attempting to appreciate and read more poetry so I thought a giveaway themed around this would be a great idea.

I read One last year and it wasn't until afterwards that I found out it was actually written in Free Verse (yes I know I'm silly) and I just so happen to have a brand new copy that I had signed by Sarah herself when I was at YALC for a giveaway!

One is an incredibly touching story about Grace and Tippi who are conjoined twins who have managed to live to the age of sixteen, completely surpassing doctors expectations of their life span. One explores what it is like to be a conjoined twin, the stares and comments and having to deal with sharing limbs.

A book giveaway

It's a truly moving book and I very much enjoyed it when I read it last year. Deservedly it has won many awards including the YA Book Prize 2016, The CILIP Carnegie Medal 2016, CBI Book of the Year Award 2016 and the CLIPPA Poetry award 2016.

To be in with a chance of winning all you have to do is enter using the Rafflecoptor form below. You must be following me on Twitter, @KelseYouLater, and there are a couple of other options to for extra entries.

The giveaway will be starting today, the 17th of January and closing on the 31st of January. It is only open to members in the UK. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Book Review | All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

a review of all the bright places by jennifer nivenMy Rating: 10/10
Published: January 6th 2015Pages: 378
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary 

Amazon | Goodreads | Book Depository 

I loved this book. That should give you a good insight as to how this review will go but for now I am going to try and justify why I loved this book so much.

Violet and Finch, the main characters in this book, meet at the top of a bell tower at school where Finch talks Violet down from the ledge.

Violet is a popular girl at school where as Finch is seen as bit of a weirdo and the two would never normally hang out but they are given a school project where they have to explore the natural wonders of their state, Indiana forcing them to spend time together.

During their travels you end up finding out how they both ended up on the roof and although Violet starts off not being so keen on Finch you also get to see how their relationship grows and what effect it has on each other.

The book is told from both of their point of views and Jennifer Niven does a great job of creating two very clear different voices in the book and it is very well written.

For me, the reason this book gets such a high mark is because it tells such an incredible story and it really sucked me in and made me feel all the emotion, something that for me is the mark of a good book and although it deals with some incredibly heavy subjects it is done so with a way that really makes you think.

I seriously enjoyed this book and devoured it in about 2 days. I would wholeheartedly recommend picking it up, but be warned, you will most likely need tissues afterwards as I was left a blubbering mess.

Well that's book 3 on my list done, 14 more to go. Not too shabby!

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Attempting to Appreciate Poetry

milk and honey by rupi kaur still I Rise by Maya Angelou

At the start of 2017 I decided to try and expand on what I read slightly, primarily by reading more non-fiction and to try to appreciate poetry.
Poetry is something even at school I didn't really understand or enjoy, but I'm hoping my adult brain which is a lot more eager to learn will like poetry more.
After a bit of research these are the two anthologies I decided to pick up to give poetry a go:

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

I first heard about this collection of poetry on the Book Riot podcast and since then it seems it has absolutely exploded everywhere and has even made it on to the New York Times best seller list.
Milk and Honey is divided into four chapters with each chapter exploring a different pain, The poems focus on violence, abuse, love, loss and femininity, and how to find the good in bad situations.
Many people have raved about this book, saying if you only pick up one book on poetry it should be this one so my feeling is if so many people who don't normally read poetry recommend it, hopefully I should be able to get it too!

And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

One of my best friends is an English teacher who loves poetry so of course I asked for her advice with this and she recommended And Still I Rise.
And Still I Rise is made up of poems that focus on a hopeful determination to rise above difficulty and discouragement. It also looks at race and gender in many of the poems too.
I've already read a couple from this and what I have read I've really enjoyed. It makes me want to check out more of Maya Angelo's work as well as read her autobiographies.

Looking at both of the books together it seems I defintiely have a type, strong females who write about overcoming terrible situations. I'm definitely good with that!

If you have any tips for enjoying poetry or can recommend any more you think are accessible to those that are new please let me know!


Sunday, 8 January 2017

Book Review | The Creeper Man by Dawn Kurtagich

book review
My Rating: 5/10
Published: November 1st 2016
Pages: 320
Genre: Young Adult, Horror 
Amazon | Goodreads | Book Depository 

Nori and Silla have run away from an awful home to go and live with their aunt Cath in her manor in the middle of nowhere. 
At first things are great and Nori and Silla are finally getting a stable home life, but after a while it becomes obvious that they have moved from one nightmare straight into another as the trees seem to move by themselves and one of the sisters sees a tall man with no eyes who appears to be constantly watching them, the Creeper Man. 

My husband got me this book for Christmas and I've been on such a horror kick at the moment that I had very high expectations for a creepy masterpiece judging by the blurb. Unfortunately I think in this case my expectations were far too high for this book so I ended up feeling very let down by it.

I assumed this book would be a lot more chilling, but from a horror point of view it was very tame and I didn't find it scary at all. The Creeper Man never seemed to propose a real threat and whilst the thought of the trees moving is unsettling, nothing much seems to happen. A lot of this book feels like it is spent just waiting.

Despite the lack of fear factor, the story itself is interesting, although for me took far too long to tell. For about 75% of this book I was forcing myself to read it, however the ending pulls it all together and I think it is a very well crafted and interesting concept. 

Dawn Kurtagich also uses a lot of great literary techniques that really help to set the tone of the story, for example when Silla is the main focus the narration often because fragmented and skips in time to help illustrate her fear.                

Unfortunately I personally didn't enjoy this book, it just not have the scare factor that I was hoping for. This review is hugely based on my personal opinion of the book though, so if the plot sounds interesting to you I would still encourage you to read it because although I didn't enjoy it I can still appreciate that it is a well written piece of work.                

And with that book two of 2017 is done! 2 down, 15 more to go before I can buy a new book.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Book Review | ...And a Happy New Year? By Holly Bourne

...And A Happy New Year by Holly BourneMy Rating: 8/10
Published: November 1st 2016
Pages: 224
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary 
Amazon | Goodreads | Book Depository 

If you haven't read The Spinster Club trilogy then you should probably stop reading this review and go read them immediately, not just because this review may have tiny spoilers for the trilogy in it, but also because it is an incredible YA feminist series everyone should read.

...And a Happy New Year? is a novella set a year after What's a Girl Gotta Do (the last in the Spinster Club trilogy) and sees all three girls from the Spinster Club trilogy back after going their separate ways at the end of college. The events in the book all take place on New Years Eve and is told through the eyes of each of the girls.

This is the last book that we will be seeing the Spinster Girls in and I think it was a very lovely end to the series. New Years eve is told through each girls view and Holly Bourne does a great job of showing all the different personality traits of each girl in one book.

As with all the other books in this series, AAHNY is funny, touching and slightly sad as the girls explore how hard it is to maintain friendships after college and how people often change when they go away to university, something that I've seen firsthand and think Holly portrays it very realistically

I really wish this book was slightly longer, just because I love the characters in the series so much (Evie is my favorite!) but I think although it is a novella, it is the perfect length to tie up all three stories and end it.

This book isn't worth reading if you haven't already read the rest of the Spinster Club books because there is too much back story, but if you have you will love this one equally and if you haven't, well go read them and come back and read this!

And with that we have the first book completed on my book ban list! 1 down, 16 to go....

Monday, 2 January 2017

2017 Book Buying Ban

book collection 17 books

If you are reading this there is a good chance that like me, you buy about 3 books for every one that you've actually got time to read, which is why I have decided to go on a book buying ban in 2017! The ban will not last the whole year, but essentially I'm not allowed to buy any books until I have read the 17 I will mention in this post, 17 in 2017, get it?

Now I have a couple of books on their way to me in the post so they don't count because they were ordered in 2016, and book subscription boxes don't count either because I was already subscribed, but everything else is non negotiable.

fantasy books

Anyway, here are the 17 titles I am hoping to get through. It's quite funny because most either fall into the category of fantasy or contemporary. Lets start with the Fantasy:

  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas - A new adult book which is kind of a retelling of The Beauty and the Beast, but with faerie lore added. This is the 1st book in the trilogy.
  • A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas - The second book in the A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy, so once again, new adult fantasy!
  • The Call by Peadar O Guillin - A YA horror book in which all teenagers will wake up realising they've received The Call and have three minutes to figure out how to live. 
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo - The first book in this YA duo-logy following a group of miscreants faced with an impossible task. 
  • Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard - YA fantasy, often described as X-Men meets the Hunger Games.
  • Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake - YA fantasy, following a set of triplets who each have a unique ability as they fight for the crown. 
  • The Creeper Man by Dawn Kurtagich - YA horror focusing on siblings with a rough past, one of the sisters is convinced she can see a man in the forest opposite the house at night with no eyes watching them.

contemporary books

And now for the more contemporary-ish titles:

  • The Graces by Laure Eve - This is actually YA fantasy too but it looked better in this picture. About witches.
  • ...And A Happy New Year by Holly Bourne - The last book about the girls from the Spinster club taking a look at their lives 1 year on from when we last met them.
  • Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon - Madeline is allergic to everything and has to live in her room, unhappy in her little bubble until a new boy moves in next door.
  • All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven - Theodore and Violet both want to escape their small town, after an unlikely meeting they both begin exploring the world together.
  • Beautiful Broken Things by Sarah Barnard - Caddy and Rosie are best friends but everything changes when new girl Suzanne comes into their lives.
  • Attachements by Rainbow Rowell - Set in the late 90s when the internet is a new thing, two colleagues email back and forth all day, and in the evening their emails are read by the IT guy. 
  • Faceless by Alyssa Sheinmel - Masie is struck by lightening leaving her face partially destroyed. She receives a face transplant but doesn't even recognise herself in the mirror any more.

kindle books

Lastly we have a few books on the Kindle:

  • A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness - YA Fantasy about a boy who has a recurring nightmare each night about a monster who wants the truth.
  • Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - YA Fantasy about an orphanage on a mysterious island.
  • You Can't Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson - Something a bit different, a collection of essays from stand up comedian Phoebe Robinson about being a black women in America.

17 books. It's quite daunting really. Lets hope I manage to get through them all before YALC in July!!

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