Wednesday, 3 August 2016

REVIEW: The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

The Unexpected Everything
Author: Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Released: 3rd May 2016
Pages: 528
Genre: YA Contemporary
Rating: 3.5/5

Andie has a plan and she always sticks to the plan.
Future? A top tier medical school.
Dad? Avoid as much as possible (which isn't that hard considering he's a Congressman and never around).
Friends? Palmer, Bri, and Toby - pretty much the most awesome people on the planet, who needs anyone else?
Relationships? No one's worth more than three weeks.
So it's no surprise she's got her summer all planned out too.
Until a political scandal cancels her summer pre-med internship, and lands both her and Dad back in the same house for the first time in years. Suddenly she's doing things that aren't Andie at all - working as a dog walker, doing an epic scavenger hunt with her dad and maybe, just maybe, letting the super cute Clark in closer than expected. Palmer, Bri and Toby tell her to embrace all the chaos, but here's the thing ... can she?


There are times, generally during the summer for me, when all you want to do is sit down and read your way through a light, fluffy contemporary. These light, fluffy contemporaries consist of a few key ingredients: a cute love story, an interesting glimpse into a family's life and a certain hobby/purpose tying all of these things together. Having read my way through all of Stephanie Perkins' offerings I was on the look out for my next contemporary author when all of the promo for Morgan Matson's newest book, The Unexpected Everything, was taking place, so, of course, I bought myself a copy to read, after all, everyone raves about Morgan Matson.

This book certainly had all of the key elements I mentioned: romance, check; family issues, check; hobby, check (dog walking!); and yet, for me, there was a bit of a sugar coating on it all. I didn't like the protagonist much, the reason for which I couldn't quite put my finger on and Clark, the love interest, seemed too cute and 'perfect' to be believable.

The relationship between Andie and her friends was interesting, and I liked how Matson explored the ways friendships can shift and change, and how the balance can become upset as people grow apart, but, even with that there was a drama that made it all not quite believable enough.

The writing was good with that balance between lighter and heavier aspects and I settled into reading it easily although occasionally a line or piece of information would be repeated that we had already been told. I really liked how Matson intergrated text speak into the books, including emojis. The setting was good and helped to give that typical contemporary feel that I was looking for.

So, although I enjoyed reading The Unexpected Everything there were some things about it that kept me from loving it. Nevertheless I do intend to give Matson another go as maybe this one was just a fluke. Also, I think this book deserves an award for just it's cover, I love it so much!

Have you read The Unexpected Everything? What did you think?

Friday, 15 July 2016

March, April & May Wrap Up 2016

So, I have been quite a bad book blogger over the past few months, I'm going to blame it on the college work and revision in the run up to exam season. Whatever the cause, I haven't been posting much and never got around to posting a March, April or May wrap up, and decided to put them all together as there weren't that many books.

THE BOOKS:

A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES BY DEBORAH HARKNESS 3/5

I would basically describe this book as: Twilight with wine and historians talking about manuscripts, take what you will from that. It's a debut novel and other than the descriptions of the manuscripts which were very detailed, Deborah Harkness is a historian herself, I found the writing could get a bit bland and I wasn't a great fan of the two lead characters (if you thought Edward was controlling in Twilight, you should meet Mathew!). There was lots of interesting historical facts, again influenced by the author's profession, however sometimes too many. The plot was interesting enough and the game was changed quite significantly by the ending so I am interested enough to perhaps pick up the next book and see how it goes.


PLAGUE BY MICHAEL GRANT 4.5/5

I can never quite work out how invested I am in these books. There's constantly a part of me that is puzzling over what on earth is going on (seriously, four books in and I still have no clue how everything started), and when I'm not reading them I don't really feel driven to pick them up but when I am reading them I really enjoy them and just keep reading in the hopes that this will finally be the book where everything is explained (no joy yet, but am still holding out hope that I'll get my answers). I really love how each book has a countdown running through it, it's a great way to build the tension and I now am generally invested in the characters, actually Astrid can be annoying. There wasn't as explosive of an ending as some of the previous books, so I didn't enjoy it quite as much, but the overall premise is still one that I really enjoy watching play out and I will definitely be finishing this series at some point in the future.

*LADY MIDNIGHT BY CASSANDRA CLARE 5/5

This book destroyed me in the best possible way and is now, without a doubt, my new favorite shadowhunter book. The chemistry and tension between the characters was so high (although I did kind of spoil it for myself by reading ahead - I needed to know what was going on!). The characters were all so well developed and felt real to me. I also really enjoyed the plot and how it was pretty self contained, obviously leaving tendrils to be pulled on in the sequel but also not leaving everything hanging.
Also, Julian Blackthorn may have replaced Jace in my affections, just saying.


SAGA: VOLUME #1 BY BRIAN K. VAUGHAN & FIONA STAPLES 5/5

I devoured this comic and it quickly became my new favorite (that being said it was only my third). Saga is well known for its explicit content and I was concerned that I may find it gratuitous but it actually really suited the tone of the story and the characters. I very quickly understood why Saga is such a firm favorite to many people. Fiona Staples' art is stunning and the story, although mostly set up in this volume, was great fun. The second volume is sat in my bedroom calling my name!
NEVER LET ME GO BY KAZUO ISHIGURO 3.5/5

I actually quite enjoyed this book which surprised me as I generally dislike dystopia, but this seemed to have a much more subtle touch to its story which I liked. I wasn't particularly taken with any of the characters but it was interesting to see how their personalities shifted and adapted to their circumstances. I found the world Ishiguro created was interesting, subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) raising questions of morality, and I really liked the meandering way the story was told, however the book didn't really have any lasting impact on me.


DRACULA BY BRAM STOKER 4/5

I liked Dracula, and liked the way the story was told in letters and journal entries, and how the characters actually referenced the way the documents were all getting drawn together into one complete volume which turns into the book. Although it wasn't as scary as I think it would have been in its original society, Twilight and its companions making us slightly immune to the more frightening aspects of vampires, Dracula still managed to be unsettling as a character. I also really like Van Helsing. It did take a long time to get to the climax, and then ended very rapidly, but it was easy to read and enjoyable.

A GAME OF THRONES BY GEORGE R. R. MARTIN 4/5

I had been putting off reading Game of Thrones for a while because of its sheer size, but it actually turned out to be very easy reading and I didn't find it as violently and sexually gratuitous as I had expected. For having so many points of view it didn't get as far along in the big picture plot as I would have liked and I am slightly concerned this pattern may continue in the subsequent books. I also became quite frustrated with many of the characters when it was easy to see how so many of the disasters could be averted (it probably didn't help that I generally knew most of the plot). However, it was enjoyable reading and I'm currently halfway through the second book and continuing to enjoy it.

So, that was my past three months reading - how was yours?

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews: Deadly Class Volume #2: Kids of the Black Hole; Saga Volume #1 & Batman Volume #1: The Court of Owls

Deadly Class Volume #2: Kids of the Black Hole
Author/s: Rick Remender, Wes Craig, Lee Loughridge
Publisher: Image Comics
Released: 2nd April 2015
Rating: 4.75/5

Volume one of this comic series was one of my favorite reads of last year, and, although I still really enjoyed this volume, it wasn't quite as good for me. I felt like the story arc was a little bit filler-y, and slightly confusing and there was one scene that I found completely unnecessary which put me off a bit.

However, the main pulls for me were still there. The moody art style with brilliant coloring was just as impressive and does a fantastic job of capturing the tone of the 1980s (or what I imagine to be the 1980s as I was not alive then). And the characters are all still so intricate and watching their relationships with each other is one of the best parts of this series.

Whilst definitely not up there with the first volume, this book still held the characteristics that drew me in last time and I will be keeping an eye out for the third volume.

Saga Volume #1
Author/s: Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples
Publisher: Image Comics
Released: 25th October 2012
Rating: 5/5

Pretty much all I need to say about this comic is I see what the fuss is about. I was hooked from page one.
Fiona Staples' art is stunning and she got all of the characters perfectly for me as well as the tone of the setting.

I loved the characters, they were edgy and funny at the same time and their interactions were either hilarious or exquisitely serious. There is a lot of mature content in this comic (not for younger readers!), and normally I wouldn't like that but it fitted quite well with the overall tone and feel of the series and its character.

I can't wait to see where this series goes, and if I had more money I probably would have bought all of the volumes by now and finished them.

Batman Volume #1: The Court of Owls
Author/s: Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion
Publisher: DC Comics
Released: 9th May 2012
Rating: 5/5

I love superhero movies and TV shows, they form the majority of my DVD library, and I've wanted to read some of the comics for a while but had absolutely no clue where to start so this is only my third (after The Killing Joke which I enjoyed, and Wonder Woman volume #1 which was okay). So, I am no means a superhero comic book expert, but this was really good.

I love Batman and I love the gritty setting of Gotham, I have ever since I saw the first Christopher Nolan movie and this comic just made that love even deeper. I was already attached to most of the characters from the various adaptations (The Batman trilogy and Gotham) and those that were new to me quickly made an impact (I'm pretty sure I'll be picking up a Nightwing volume in the very near future).

I liked the art, especially a certain section where the layout got turned around in an effort to disorientate you which I think came across really well. The story was kinda creepy (I'm pretty sure I'm going to be scared of owls for a little while), and left me itching for the next volume, so I'd say this volume was a success for me!

What comics and graphic novels have you read lately? Any recommendations?
 

Monday, 2 May 2016

BOOKHAUL #2: Blame it on the Discounts

So, I've been remarkably restrained with my book buying since christmas, mainly because I've had no money because...well, christmas. But there have been some that I haven't been able to say no to.


THE BOOKS:


Wordery, my favourite online bookseller (and generally the cheapest) had a 10% discount on over January, so..what was I meant to do?



I'm currently into a bit of a finish-all-of-my-unfinished-series kick, so I bought myself a copy of Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, the final book in the Starbound trilogy. I have a review here.


I then wanted to buy myself a copy of the US hardcover of The Copper Gauntlet by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black as the UK publishers changed the covers (grrr).


And then, I bought myself a copy of the first ACE Reading Challenge book: Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman. I have a post about it here (spoiler alert - one of my new favorite books).


Then, a few days later my mum was doing a Wordery order and asked if I wanted to add something to it so I ordered myself a physical copy of Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead, the only Vampire Academy book I didn't have a physical copy of as I had read it on kindle.


And then, towards the end of January I was ordering something online and had to add a book to the order obviously. I have heard so much about Asking For It by Louise O'Neill, a book about rape culture and victim shaming and really wanted to read it for myself.


I then didn't buy any books in February or the beginning of March, but one preorder did arrive and you can probably guess what it was. Yep, Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare in all its glory. I'm currently halfway through and am pretty sure it is my new favorite Shadowhunter book.

So - what books have you bought recently?

Monday, 18 April 2016

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Lady Midnight
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's UK
Released: 8th March 2016
Pages: 688
Genre: YA Paranormal
Rating: 5/5

It's been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.
Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. Julian's brother Mark-who was captured by the faeries five years ago-has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind-and they need the Shadowhunters' help to do it. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?

 
To be honest, I'm not sure quite how much I can add to the discussion of this book. It was, quite simply, perfect. Cassandra Clare's writing has improved so much since her first Shadowhunter book until it has reached this point, in Lady Midnight, where I don't see how it could be any better. The imagery she used when describing LA and the institute there was beautiful. The writing flowed seamlessly.

The plot was also fantastic. For the first time in one of her series the first book's plot was pretty much standalone, wrapping everything up very nicely (and painfully, but that's spoiler territory). I must admit, and this is where I need to be told off, I was so invested in the story that I read ahead a bit and spoiled the twist/reveal but I couldn't help myself! I was so invested in the story that I needed to know whether everything would be all right!

The characters, again, showed the progress Clare's writing has taken. Within the first few pages I felt like I knew and understood all of them, and really cared about them too. The Blackthorn's were all so different but united through their love of each other and I became so invested in them straight away. And the romance was exquisite. There was so much chemistry between characters and you could see how much they cared for each other. Although, with how the book ended I am slightly concerned about there becoming a love triangle...actually love pentagon if you think about it...which I am not a fan of, but I guess it's just something to expect in Clare's books, and if anyone can write a love triangle that I don't hate it is her, I mean, have you read The Infernal Devices? So painful. Anyway, wrong series.

So yeah, like I said not really adding anything to the conversation, just pure gushing. I loved this book, these characters, the plot - everything! I cannot wait (well, I guess I have to) for the next book. It cannot get here fast enough. I must even admit that I think Julian Blackthorn may have replaced Jace in my affections - what?

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Short Stories and "Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances" by Neil Gaiman Discussion


I have never read short story collections. I always assumed that because I hated the ones I studied at school that all short stories would be like them and so wouldn't be something I enjoyed reading. When I think about it, that makes no sense - like all forms of writing, some stories will suit you better than others and I love fairy tales which are basically short stories.



I am so glad that Chelsie, Ally and myself chose this collection by Neil Gaiman to read for the ACE Reading Challenge as it showed me how much I love reading short stories. I love it. There is so much experimentation that you can do with the form (which Neil Gaiman proved time and time again - one of the stories was told entirely in responses to a questionnaire). Even the stories that I didn't personally enjoy as much content wise, I really appreciated what he was doing with the form. I loved it, and because of this I've started experimenting more myself in writing short stories, I was feeling so inspired. This book, this magical collection of fairy tales and pirates and monsters and humans, felt so creative.

At the start of the book, in the Introduction, Gaiman tells us a little bit about each story and where he was and when he was and it showed how passionate he was about these stories, and how they were to him mostly pet projects. Having that extra information and context just added this brilliant depth to the story. Also, does this man ever run out of ideas? The creativity in him, what he created with The Truth Is A Cave In The Black Mountains, I just-.

This book reminded me how much I love stories and creativity, fairy tales and the magical fluidity of words. And it showed me that I love short stories and should not have written them off - I now can't wait to go on my next short story adventure!

You can find me on Goodreads; Twitter and Instagram!

Chelsie can be found at the following links:
Blog: chelsiesbookaddiction.wordpress.com
Twitter: c_hels95
Instagram: chelsies_book_addiction
Goodreads: Chelsie Rout

Ally:
Blog: allydewing.wordpress.com
Youtube: Ally Dewing
Twitter: ally_dewing
Instagram: abibliophobic_ally
Goodreads: Ally Dewing

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

February Reading Wrap Up 2016

Depending on your outlook, I had quite a good reading month. I only completed four books, one being a comic bind up and one a poetry collection, but they were all over four star reads for me and I am 500 pages into another book.

 ASKING FOR IT BY LOUISE O'NEILL 5/5

The first book I finished this month was Asking For It by Louise O'Neill which is a really important book, though not the most enjoyable read. It looks at rape culture and victim blaming, the main character embodying all of the qualities people would generally list to say someone was "asking for it". O'Neill definitely doesn't hold back which led to an incredibly thought provoking read that is deserving of all the praise it has been receiving.



AND STILL I RISE BY MAYA ANGELOU 4/5

The second book I finished, And Still I Rise, was my first front-to-back read of a poetry collection and although I enjoyed it (she creates this wonderfully energetic rhythm to all of her poems, and you can really get a sense of her sassy personality), I think I will have to reread it after reading her biographies in order to appreciate the content better as her own personality is so key in the poems.




DEADLY CLASS VOLUME #2: KIDS OF THE BLACK HOLE 4.75/5
My third completed read was Deadly Class Vol #2: Kids of the Black Hole, the first volume of which was one of my favorite reads of 2015. Although I didn't enjoy this one quite as much it was still very enjoyable and the art and coloring are just fantastic. I'll definitely be reading the next volume to see where this story goes.






FRANKENSTEIN BY MARY SHELLEY 5/5
My final read was one of those dreaded assigned reading books...and I loved it. Frankenstein is quite possibly my new favorite classic. I loved the layers of the story where it was told in three first person narratives. Although I didn't like any of the characters much, they were all fully developed and felt real. I'm looking forward to spending the next few weeks studying it and then rereading it in the future for my own pleasure. Also, the audiobook was brilliant and I do not normally enjoy audiobooks.




What was your favorite read this month? Mine was probably Frankenstein but it's a hard choice!