2018 · Top 5 Wednesday

T5W: Books For My Younger Self

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme created by Sam and Lainey in which we all talk about our top five favourite books/tv shows/movies that fall into the week’s chosen topic. Goodreads group can be found here!

This week’s topic is books that you would give to your younger self if you could. I really like this one. It’s an opportunity to go a lot more personal which while this post will be brief, I hope it can reveal a little bit more about me.

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1. Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

Girl Made of Stars is a book that I would give to my younger self for many reasons. One of these is that the book features a female/genderqueer romance, which I had never seen before in books when I was younger, and I feel would have made me feel so validated. While I never was one for romance, and only like little bits here and there now, to see a on-page queer relationship in a book would have made me very, very happy.

And on a little bit of a darker note, this book deals heavily with rape, sexual assault, rape culture, and the abuse of power by a teacher. I’m not going into any specifics but these topics were unfortunately a focal point of my childhood and one I never talk about because I just don’t want to go there. However, I think while it would be upsetting to me, it would have been a very cathartic experience to read from these characters’ experiences.

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2. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I think in general that this is a book every child should be given if they can handle the subject matter, so it is less personal to me and more a generalisation. Speaking from the perspective of a white person, I think it’s so important to educate white children and young people to the racism people of colour face. I’m from a working class area in the north east of England, and my education was sorely lacking even in the exam department, never mind anything outside the curriculum to be used in actual real life. Without books like this and the internet, I would never have known about so many social issues.

The Hate U Give, aside from being just an amazing book by an amazing author, is an opportunity to start a conversation, which I wish I had been able to do as a child.

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3. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

If you guys know me even a little bit, you’ll know that I am completely and utterly obsessed with the An Ember in the Ashes series, and that I hold Sabaa Tahir up at goddess-level. I adore both her and the series, and the characters are at the very top of my list of favourites.

I wish my younger self would have been able to become engrossed in this series because I feel like it would have definitely become my Harry Potter. I can see Young Abby fantasising about running through streets with Laia and Elias.

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4. Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

I think I might do another post about this in the future, but university for me has been a very conflicting idea. While I’m happy with the choice I’ve made now – a three-year online degree with the OU – juggling the idea of traditional university with illness, family, money, and mental health just seemed terrifying.

I wish I’d had this book back in secondary school, just to show me that I had a choice. Everyone in my life was telling me I was making the wrong one and that I had no options but the traditional uni route, but this book not only showed me there was more than one avenue I could take, but that none of those avenues were wrong.

Radio Silence also has an asexual character which if I’d read when I was younger, I would have figured my identity out a whole lot sooner.

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5. When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

And a light one to finish, I would give my younger self When The Moon Was Ours just so that Young Abby knew to keep her standards up. Anna-Marie McLemore’s writing is my favourite in the world and I feel like if I’d read her wonderful stories when I was young, I would have had a much higher standard when it came to reading books, but also probably despaired over how inferior my writing was!

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And that’s all! Which books would you give to your younger self? I’d love to know!

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2018 · Book Reviews

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid Review

Congratulations,Class of 2018!

Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

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Congratulations,Class of 2018! (1)

If you’ve seen my recent Thursday Quotables post, you’ll know that I absolutely fell in love with this book. It is without a doubt not only in my top favourites of this year, but one of my top favourites of all time.

So let’s get into what I loved so much!

Writing:

Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing is the kind of writing that just completely envelopes you and cuts you off from the outside world. From the first page, I was totally immersed in Monique and Evelyn’s lives and could believe everything entirely.

The concept is just brilliant (which I’ll get into more in the plot section of this review), but it also presents so many challenges, the main one being that the bulk of this story is told in flashbacks, which I find can really slow the pace down and drag out. This wasn’t the case at all in this book, because I was so totally immersed in Evelyn’s narrative. The writing remained both punchy and beautiful throughout.

“Sometimes reality comes crashing down on you. Other times reality simply waits, patiently, for you to run out of the energy it takes to deny it.”

It’s lines like the one above that makes the book so impactful and truly unlocks the emotion behind the story and the characters. Having lines that are so relatable in such an unrelatable world as Hollywood stardom, is so effective in humanising Evelyn and heightening each peak and fall throughout her life.

I really don’t think I can fault the writing at all.

Plot:

Like I said earlier, the plot of this book is just genius. Not only are the opportunities endless, but being framed as an interview looking back on the past, the whole story is tainted in a feeling of nostalgia and we are constantly reminded of how Evelyn’s story ends – alone after seven husbands, and outliving her daughter. Instead of ruining the suspense, this knowledge really pushes the story forward and only adds to the mystery element.

This format also allows for us as the reader to see other people’s perspectives of Evelyn both in the past and present, whether that be through tabloids following her at the height of her fame, magazines speculating about her in old age, or through Monique herself as she is thrust upon a woman who was once the world’s most famous and scandalous celebrity. Switching between these perspectives and Evelyn’s true account really showed the predatory nature of certain journalists and gossip sites. Their pressure, scrutiny, and presumptions were so invasive that I couldn’t help but feel desperately sorry for Evelyn, and the lengths she had to go to to hide her true self.

For me, that’s the main crux of this book – being forced to hide your true self as the price for success and ambition, the toxicity of society (especially in the 20th century, but also today), and the empowerment that comes with telling your story the way you yourself experienced.

Characters:

Being such a character driven book, having characters that are interesting and well-developed is a must in order for it to work. I found every single character in the book to fit this criteria.

Evelyn is such a real character, who has to deal with so much shit. Having to hide her true self and construct a persona in order for her to make it in Hollywood is at the heart of everything she does – whether that be dyeing her hair blonde and changing her speech patterns to disguise her Cuban heritage or engaging in fake relationships to cover up her bisexuality – and ultimately leads to her sitting down with Monique and spilling her life story, and who was her one real love. The racism and homo/biphobia she experiences is so heartbreaking, and though she makes some terrible decisions, I could always understand her reasoning and it just added to the realness of her character. Her fight and her flaws make her human.

Evelyn is the definition of a strong woman, who copes with more than I would ever be able to. However, despite us getting so far into her head and her past, she still manages to retain a reverence and mystery to her, which makes her so intoxicating. She truly does have the appeal of a major celebrity and I couldn’t help but fall for her as her fans did. She is a character I will always hold close to my heart.

Monique is not just a conduit between the audience and Evelyn, she is a character to be admired and empathised with in her own right. She faces her own struggles as a biracial woman trying to get by working for a magazine and figuring out where she wants to take her writing, while also separating from her partner, which all gets tangled up with Evelyn.

“Make them pay you what they would pay a white man.”

I truly believe they both helped each other. I was rooting for Monique as much as I was rooting for Evelyn. Both are women I admire so much and are such strong protagonists to lead a story.

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My love for this book is pretty much endless and I could rant for a long time about it, but I’m trying not to go too far over 1000 words (which I have already failed at) for reviews. This book will break your heart and every now and then, piles of books later, will come back to haunt you.

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Have you read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo? I’d love to gush about it more!

Until the next one,

Abby.

2018 · Book Tags

Sunshine Blogger Award

I was tagged a while ago now (I’m sorry) by the wonderful Fadwa over at Word Wonders. Thank you so much for the tag, lovely! If you haven’t checked out Fadwa’s blog yet, I highly recommend you do. It’s one of my absolute favourites! Check out Fadwa’s answers here!

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The Rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write then 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

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  • Do you have some specific reading habits?

I love to be cozy while I’m reading, which usually means I’m either under a blanket, drinking coffee or peppermint tea, laid on pillows, or snuggled up with my dogs, or all of the above. I love to just disengage from reality, decompress, and just relax.

  • What are books you saw yourself (or parts of yourself) in?

I would definitely have to say I saw so many aspects of myself in Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake. I’m not going to go too far into the details but both the story and the characters are so close to me, so much so that some moments just had me breathless.

  • What’s your favourite book of 2018 so far?

Either Girl Made of Stars, or The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Both books are completely stunning and heartbreaking in their writing, plot, and characters. They both have characters that I love and adore, and who I carry around with me every day.

  • Who are your top 5 favourite authors?

Sabaa Tahir, Anna-Marie McLemore, Alice Oseman, Tomi Adeyemi, and Angie Thomas.

  • What’s a trope (or multiple) you never get tired of?

The found family trope is my jam. I will never, ever get tired of reading about friends coming together and forming a supportive and loving family. I love those kinds of interactions and people just looking out for each other.

  • Do you watch tv-shows? If so, what are your top 3 favourites?

I don’t watch too much TV, but the shows I used to watch were Hannibal, Stranger Things, and Doctor Who.

  • What’s your dream career?

My dream career is an author. Ever since I first started school, I always wrote about how I wanted to be a writer, and I used to write so many stories all while I was growing up. I’ve never stopped writing, and I don’t think I ever will. It’s what makes me happiest in the world, and what helps me work through the shittier things in life.

  • What are your favourite types of posts to write?

Book reviews are definitely my favourite, especially if I really loved a book. It gives me a rush to be able to just talk and talk about a book that meant something to me, and to describe all the reasons why. However, I also really enjoy highlighting some aspects of books that I didn’t enjoy so much, especially if they’re technical. I find it’s beneficial to me to really deconstruct books as it hopefully helps my own writing style develop. It’s something I’m working on constantly, and hopefully will improve, the more reviews I do.

  • What are your most anticipated releases for the second half of 2018?

Mirage by Somaiya Daud is definitely on the list, as it’s a Moroccan inspired fantasy/science fantasy that comes out really soon. Others have to be City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab, Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao, and Rosewater by Tade Thompson.

  • What inspired you to start a blog?

Honestly, this is the same answer to why I love writing book reviews. Not only does it help encourage me to read critically and deeply, it allows for reflection in my own writing, and allows me to be part of this amazing community we have. I love uplifting authors and fellow bloggers and readers, and just having chat. My life can be pretty lonely (and set to get even lonelier), so this community really helps keep me afloat.

  • Do you read more physical books, ebooks or audiobooks?

It really does depend on my mood. Some months I’ll read exclusively ebooks, while other times it will just be physical. I’d say it’s a tie between them, and I listen to much fewer audiobooks.

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Now for my questions!

  1. Where is your ideal reading place?
  2. Does your environment affect the way you read, e.g. weather, noise, temperature?
  3. Where do you get most of your book recommendations?
  4. What are some tips you would like to give other book bloggers?
  5. If you could go back and speak to yourself while you were writing your first blog post, what would you say?
  6. Which books are you most excited to read this year?
  7. If you could change one thing about the way you read, what would it be?
  8. Do you prefer new releases or backlist books?
  9. Where do you acquire most of your books from?
  10. What’s important to you that decides whether or not you pick up a book?
  11. If you could invite any five characters to a house party, which would you invite?

 

I tag:

1. Cerys @ Browsing for Books

2. Emily @ Yes Whale

3. Ruby @ Ruby’s Books

4. Lauren @ A City of Books

5. Cynic on Wings

6. Ally @ Ally’s Pages

7. Jasmine @ Jasmine’s Reading

8. Amy @ A Court of Crowns and Quills

9. Dorine @ My Paper World

10. Princess of Pages @ Princess of Pages

11. Sara @ Atomic Asian Reads

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2018 · Book Tags · Thursday Quotables

Thursday Quotables: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo Edition

This is my first time doing the weekly meme by Bookshelf Fantasies in which we showcase some of our favourite quotes in our current/recent reads. A book I finished recently and has instantly become one of my all-time favourites, is The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Not only does it have two of my favourite of my favourite characters and a plot that will break your heart, the writing is also so quotable.

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Sometimes reality comes crashing down on you. Other times reality simply waits, patiently, for you to run out of the energy it takes to deny it.
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You do not know how fast you have been running, how hard you have been working, how truly exhausted you are, until somewhat stands behind you and says, “It’s OK, you can fall down now. I’ll catch you.”
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I love these quotes so much not just because of how beautifully written they, but also for their relatability. That second one really made me tear up. Taylor Jenkins Reid really knows how to do emotion!

 

What are some of your favourite book quotes?

Until the next one,

Abby.

2018 · Book Tags

I Dare You Book Tag

The original tag was created by rianna reads on Booktube. Follow the link for her video!

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1. Dare you to jump backwards: Name a book you went into blindly and it let you down.

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For this question, I’m going to have to go with a book I read just recently and was a huge let down, and that is We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. I had no idea what this book was about and went in purely on the back of the huge amount of praise it’s been getting for years, which was obviously a mistake. I just couldn’t bring myself to care about the story or the characters, and the big twist at the end – though I didn’t see it coming – I was just neutral about.

 

 

2. One drink too many: Name a book that gave you a hangover.

img_0135I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman definitely gave me a book hangover. All I wanted to do was re-read it along with the rest of her books because I just loved it so much. Not only did I adore the story and the characters, I just loved the entire tone of the book, and that’s what I craved after I’d finished. It just made me so happy and I couldn’t bear to read anything else that wouldn’t live up to that.

 

Continue reading “I Dare You Book Tag”

2018 · Book Reviews

Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken Review

Warning: Will contain spoilers for the first book in the trilogy – The Darkest Minds. You can find my review for that book here!

Congratulations,Class of 2018!

Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster.

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her.

As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?

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Congratulations,Class of 2018! (1)

As I said in my review of the first book in the trilogy, The Darkest Minds, I’m catching up after years of side-lining this series, and I LOVED the first book.

Now, I’m trying to be objective and write a review that’s a true reflection of this entire second book, but I’ve got to say that that ending is just making me want to rate Never Fade 5 stars and shout about it forever.

Writing:

I loved Alexandra Bracken’s writing as much as I did with the first book. She definitely strikes the balance between description and action for me, and also between writing that’s beautiful and visual, without being purple.

I love the way she writes emotion, and this series is definitely highly charged with it. I sometimes find that I have a bit of a disconnect when it comes to protagonist’s emotions (something I’m going to make a post about soon) compared to secondary characters, but Never Fade is written with such focus on reaction and emotion that I never felt that.

Plot:

The plot is where I had a little issue with the book, and why I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 (which, come on, is still amazing). The first maybe 15% of the book I struggled with, but I often do when it comes to second books in a series so that’s more a subjective gripe.

Continue reading “Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken Review”

2018 · Wrap Ups

July Wrap Up (2018)

July! What a strange month you were. July was the first full month I’ve had away from studying and to say it felt weird is an understatement. I’m sure a lot of you can relate when I say that the guilt and confusion my brain felt when I wasn’t studying or worrying about studying 24/7 was something I struggled with.

Even though I knew I had no deadlines, it still felt as if I had forgotten to do something and that weighed over me for most of the month.

A lot of pretty important stuff happened this month too, making it one of the busiest few weeks of my life. In two weeks, I went on my first holiday with my friends to Disneyland Paris,  I crammed for my driving test, passed my driving test (no minors!!), felt the pain of losing out on the world cup – no hard feelings Croatia, you deserved to go through – turned eighteen, watched a Shakespeare at the theatre, went to three different parties, celebrated my cousin’s birthday the day after mine, drove on my own for the first time, fought with my insurance company, and had way too much to drink.

And then I basically slept for the rest of the month.

Somehow, I did manage to fit some reading in, and ended up finishing nine books. And guys, they were amazing books.

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Out of the nine books I read, eight were physical books, leaving one ebook. No audiobooks this month!

 

 

 

 

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Eight were my own, and one was
from the library. I was honestly too busy to even drive down to the library!

 

 

 

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And the juiciest stats – the ratings! I had an unbelievable month with reading in July, with SEVEN 5 star ratings, and TWO 3 stars. I just really enjoyed everything I read, and was completely blown away by the books I was picking up. Couldn’t have asked for better!

Now onto my thoughts…

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❀ A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

★★★★★

Of course, of course, I was going to give this book 5 stars. Sabaa Tahir is one of my all time favourite authors and I just adore everything I read from her. I’ve never rated one of her books under 5 stars, and I doubt I ever will because she just never disappoints. This book had all the twists, the tension, and the heartbreak that I wanted from it. It absolutely destroyed me and I’m terrified for the fourth book. If you haven’t picked this series up yet, I can’t recommend it enough.


❀ Scythe by Neal Schusterman

★★★★★

I read Scythe in Disneyland while my friends went on rides I would either throw up on or my bones wouldn’t cope with, and I didn’t care one bit about missing out. I literally sat on the ground in the park and read this amazing book all the way through. Scythe takes place in a utopic world in which no one dies, unless killed by a Scythe. One of these Scythes decides to take on two teenage apprentices, who have to battle it out to win their place, all the while trying to navigate a new political and social system that isn’t as clear cut as it originally seemed. The plot is just so unique and fascinating, and I can’t wait to read the sequel.


❀ Dear Martin by Nic Stone

★★★★★

I haven’t cried as hard at a book in a long while. For such a short book, it packs such a suckerpunch that at times I found it hard to breathe. Dear Martin follows black teenager Justyce as he is wrongfully arrested due to police racism. To help work through his anger and confusion at the system that’s built against him, he begins to write letters to Martin Luther King Jr. We follow both his letters and his day to day life, as he struggles through the hardest times imaginable. I just… this book completely stole me. Justyce as a character stole my heart, and I think that contributes to why this book has such a huge impact. He’s just such a great character and I feel for him so much. Please, please read this book if you haven’t already, and are able to.


❀ The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M Danforth

★★★.5

I have some complicated feelings on this book that I’m going to hold off on, until they’re cohesive in a review when I get to it. We follow Cameron Post as she figures out her attraction to girls, and ends up being sent to a conversion camp. I will say that as a queer person myself, this story is both so important but completely heartbreaking. It really was difficult to read, which I think was the point. I will 100% be seeing and supporting the film.


❀ Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C Dao

★★★.5

The rating for this book is more a reflection of my expectations being too high, I feel. I really enjoyed the perspective of the villain and following her origins, but I just think the pay off will really come in the following books when we’ve had so much backstory. I loved the east Asian inspiration and the writing, but just felt there was a little something missing for me that could push it to four stars. I will for sure be continuing, though!


❀ The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

★★★★★

Hooooly shit, once again. The Enchanted follows a book-loving prisoner on Death Row as he narrates one of his fellow inmate’s journey to try and have his execution overturned. Mixed with an element of fabulism, this book was so incredibly difficult to read and left me completely drained of emotion. Rene Denfeld was able to wring me of all tears and have me sobbing in front of my family. Huge trigger warnings for sexual assault, abuse of a minor, ableism, violence – pretty much everything, really. It’s definitely a book to tread carefully with.


❀ Macbeth by William Shakespeare

★★★★★

Macbeth is one of my absolute favourite plays and I decided it was time for a re-read before seeing a performance in York. Honestly, Lady Macbeth is one of my favourite villains of all time and the actress at the York production was just perfect. Very murder-y.


❀ Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

★★★★★

Okay, so this book and I have something really honestly special. I related to so much of this book and these characters, and I can safely say that I’ve never felt more seen in a book in my life. It’s the case with this one that I want to go more in depth in a review and try to organise my thoughts more, but I’ll just say that I’ve never cried so much at a book, and never has a book hit so close to home. I’ll forever be holding this one to my heart. TW for rape, sexual assault, biphobia.


❀ The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

★★★★★

I’m finally catching up! I picked up this trilogy in preparation for the film (WHICH LOOKS AMAZING!) and I’m so glad I did. I’ve written a full review of both the first and second book (the latter of which will be up tomorrow), and completely loved them. It’s such a solid story with characters I’d give my life for, and a plot that really has me hooked. I also love Alexandra Bracken’s writing style.

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And there it is! Such a brilliant reading month, full of books I know I’ll be keeping close in both my mind and heart for a long time.

Have you read any of the books I read? What was the best book you read this month? Let me know and we can chat!


Until the next one,

Abby.

2018 · Book Reviews

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken Review

Congratulations,Class of 2018!When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her—East River. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at having a life worth living.

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Congratulations,Class of 2018! (1)

Trigger Warnings: fat phobia (unchallenged), sexual assault, gore.

I missed out on a lot of classic YA dystopia, as I preferred to read more adult books when I was younger, for some reason. Now a young adult myself, I have absolutely fallen in love with YA, and have loved it now for a good couple of years. I’ve spent a good chunk of this time catching up on what are considered ‘classic’ YA series, The Darkest Minds being one of them. And, of course, with the movie coming out soon, I had an even bigger incentive.

Holy shit, this book was amazing. I had expected to like it, it being as popular as it is/was, but this book totally exceeded all expectations.

Writing:

I really connected with Alexandra Bracken’s writing. I found it so easy to read and in places, so completely beautiful that she was able to switch a scene on its head in just one sentence.

Something I was really impressed by is how easy-flowing the internal monologues of Ruby were. She’s a very damaged, tortured character, who spends a lot of time second-guessing herself, and so a lot of pages are devoted to her inner conflicts. Usually, this style can bog down a book or seem to drawn out, but they seemed to pass quickly and all seemed necessary to the story.

Continue reading “The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken Review”

2018 · Book Reviews

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge Review

Congratulations,Class of 2018!Faith Sunderly leads a double life. To most people, she is reliable, dull, trustworthy – a proper young lady who knows her place as inferior to men. But inside, Faith is full of questions and curiosity, and she cannot resist mysteries: an unattended envelope, an unlocked door. She knows secrets no one suspects her of knowing. She knows that her family moved to the close-knit island of Vane because her famous scientist father was fleeing a reputation-destroying scandal. And she knows, when her father is discovered dead shortly thereafter, that he was murdered.

In pursuit of justice and revenge, Faith hunts through her father’s possessions and discovers a strange tree. The tree bears fruit only when she whispers a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, delivers a hidden truth. The tree might hold the key to her father’s murder – or it may lure the murderer directly to Faith herself.

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Congratulations,Class of 2018! (1)

I don’t know really what I was expecting from this book, as I hadn’t read the synopsis. It was a complete cover buy in a charity shop, and I was lured in by the ominous title. However, I ended up really, truly enjoying this story.

Writing:

The writing in The Lie Tree really is what makes it. The tone and the atmosphere created by Hardinge’s effortless descriptions is what stood out most in the book, and in my opinion, makes it so unique. Set on the bleak coast of the island of Vane in the Victorian era, the writing really does conjure imagery of the biting cold and grey skies and unforgiving seas. The setting and tone always felt consistent and loomed over the events of the story, adding a whole new dimension of tension.

It also felt quite wordy for a middle-grade book, so if you’re giving this to a younger reader, equip them with a dictionary or be prepared to be questioned!

Continue reading “The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge Review”

2018 · Book Reviews

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir Review

Congratulations,Class of 2018!

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear. It is in this brutal world, inspired by Ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

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Congratulations,Class of 2018! (1)

Trigger Warning: Mentions of rape, assault, gore, slavery.

I’m going to preface this review by saying that the first time I read An Ember in the Ashes was back in 2016 when it first came out, and I’ve loved it ever since. Because it was so long ago that I read the series, I thought it was time for a re-read to prepare for A Reaper at the Gates (the third in the series). I was so engrossed the first time around that I couldn’t bring myself to make notes and formulate a review, and even this time, I had to force myself to think objectively and think about the points I wanted to include. In short, write something other than – READ THIS BOOK RIGHT NOW IT’S SO AMAZING AHHHHH.

I’m gonna give it a go, at least.

“Fear is only your enemy if you allow it to be.”

Plot:

The plot of this book is extremely intricate, and little threads are woven throughout the narrative so that it could possibly be confusing, but Sabaa Tahir has such skill at making information stick. She really is able to strike a balance between the plot being complex, but not bogged down with too much.

Because the story is told in dual perspective between Elias and Laia, we get the point of view and the political climate of the opposing sides, and watching them overlap and intertwine is so satisfying. This book almost made me feel like I was following the breadcrumbs of a mystery thriller, but with the added exhilaration of magic and the high stake fantasy setting. I was constantly on the fringes between cringing, crying, or punching the air.

This book also has the trial trope so if you love a good tournament/competition (especially when they’re lethal), you know where to look. Warning: it will rip your heart out.

Continue reading “An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir Review”