30 June 2015

June, in conclusion

We're seriously half way through 2015 and I can't believe it, I've passed so many milestones these 6 months and I'm, hopefully, going to pass a bunch more before the year is over. For starters I turned 18 in March, I've participated in National Read-a-thon day, I've been a volunteer at the World Book Day event here in Denmark and I became auto-approved and a review was featured on Netgalley. I'm actually quite proud with myself and I hope the next 6 months are going to be just as eventful. 

Reading wise I had a great month, I 'only' read 10 books but I gave them, or at least most of them, quite high ratings and I'm quite happy with that. In the month of June I read: 
  1. Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter by Stacy King 4/5
  2. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald 5/5
  3. Being a Girl by Hayley Long 5/5
  4. Only We Know by Simon Packham 3/5
  5. Almost Grace by Rosie Rowell 2/5
  6. A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) by Sarah J. Maas 5/5
  7. How to be Bad by E. Lockhart, Lauren Myracle & Sarah Mlynowski 4/5
  8. The Rosie Effect (Don Tillman #2) by Graeme Simsion 4/5
  9. Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss #2) by Stephanie Perkins 4/5
  10. The Selection (The Selection #1) by Kiera Cass 5/5

As I mentioned I passed a lot of milestones this past half year and June has been just as eventful as all the other months. Some of the things that happened was:
  • I finished 3 books in a day, only one of which I'd begun the day before. I ended up finishing Being a Girl, Only We Know and Almost Grace before it was even midday and I'm quite proud!
  • I graduated and I'm now what you call a 'student' in Denmark
  • I applied to the University of Southern Denmark and hopefully I'll get in! 
  • I began reading A Game of Trones and I'm actually really enjoying it! 
  • I received my first proof copy and it's signed by the author!
  • My boyfriend got me an Instax camera for our 2,5 year anniversary and I'm loving it!

After I was done with my exams me and my sister, mostly me, treated ourselves to some books. We traded a bunch for in store credit so I ended up getting these books for free - basically

I bought a total of 8 books and a coloring in book this month, so it's not so bad.

I bought
- Thank You For the Memories and P.S. I Love You by Cecilia Ahern
- The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
- Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nichols
- Only Human by Tom Holt
- Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick
& lastly White Teeth by Zadie Smith

I haven't actually read anyone of them yet but since I'm off school until September I have lots of time!

It's not like I have a massive TBR for July or anything but I thought I'd share it with you

I got 4 books from Hot Key Books this month and I'm planning to read all of them

  • Lorali by Laura Dockrill
  • Paperweight by Meg Haston
  • Birds by Jess Vallance
  • The Good Girls (The Perfectionists #2) by Sara Shepard
Some authors have contacted me about reviews and if these books get in this month I'll try my best to read them before the month is over
  • Taking Leaps and Finding Ghosts: A Novel by Janet Delee
  • Omega (Omega #1) by Lizzy Ford
I'm also hoping I can finish A Game of Thrones this month! 

16 June 2015

How to be Bad by E. Lockhart, Lauren Myracle & Sarah Mlynowski

Series: N/A, Standalone
Publication date: June 4, 2015
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Genres: YA, Contemporary
Format: Review copy
Source: The publisher in exchange for an honest review
Pages: 321

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When you've had enough of being good, sometimes you've got to be a little bad . . .

Jesse, Vicks and Mel could not be more different.

Jesse is as thoughtful as she is uptight, and keeping a secret she knows will change her life forever.

Vicks is a wild-child, seemingly o so confident, but also anxious about her absent boyfriend.

Mel is the new girl in town - the rich kid, needing to get over some of her fears and find some friends.

But Jesse, Vicks and Mel have one thing in common: they're so desperate to get the heck out of Niceville and discover their true badass selves. One 'borrowed' car later and it's time to hit the road
Let the bad times roll...

This is the perfect summer book! Even though I don't normally read books about road trips - I know some really enjoy them - I really liked this one. It seems like the ideal 'setting' of a summery contemporary; wind in the hair, adventures and friendship, maybe even a little love.

How to be Bad is told from alternating voices, of Jesse, Mel and Vicks. Jesse is very religious, Mel is quite shy and Vicks is practically the badass. I don't know who my favorite of the three is but I know that I liked Jesse the least. I understand why she's quite a 'tight bottom' but she's still my least favourite. I love that Mel is the rich kid but she's the shyest of them all, I love how insecure Vicks actually is at heart and I love how independent these girls actually are.
Even though Mel is the outsider in the beginning, believe me I felt so sorry for her, she becomes so important to Jesse and Vicks and I love how their friendship, which isn't a friendship in the beginning, becomes so deep. It's so lovely!

Mel, Jesse and Vicks are so incredibly different and I definitely love that, they're also quite complex characters. Take Mel for example; even though she's the rich kid she's shy, she's jewish and she's actually from Canada. Vicks is so carefree, she's so committed to Brady, her boyfriend, and she loves food - not just eating it but making it too. Jesse, well, when it comes down to it she reminds me of Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye, she keeps saying 'that kills me, she kills me, it kills me' and so on, just like Holden! Jesse also have this love for trains which I find quite random.
All of the girls have problems but they find a way to get through it with the help of each other - I love that!

Even though the love-bit in this book is great. It's cute, fluffy and definitely swoon-worthy, it wasn't really necessary. I'm usually all for love, but it just took something away from the story..

As I mentioned earlier, the road trip-thing is not usually my kind of thing, but apparently it is when it comes to this book. I love the idea with this road trip, Vicks has somewhere to get to, Jesse has something to get away from, and Mel just wants to be with them. It's quite perfect actually.

Even though I loved the characters and the road trip something was missing.. Or maybe the love-bit brought it down.

12 June 2015

Almost Grace by Rosie Rowell

Series: N/A, Standalone
Publication date: June 4, 2015
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Genres: YA, Contemporary
Format: Review copy
Source: The publisher in exchange for an honest review
Pages: 224

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For the first time in my life I feel like there is a chink of light, another way. Spook's world is raw, cut down to what matters. He is the first person I've met who seems free.

Grace and her Cape Town friends are renting a house on the coast - after exams it's their rite of passage into adulthood. Yet 'maturity' means different things to each of them. Brett and Louisa have plans - university, travelling - but Grace is uncertain of her future. Anxiety drives her to take control of whatever she can, starting with her own body, and it is starting to worry those around her.

When Grace meets Spook - an older, nomadic surfer - their attraction is instant and his relaxed familiarity and assured confidence catch her off-guard. Can she allow herself to lose control, and fall in love?

An evocative, beautifully-told story of identity, relationships and freedom, set in contemporary South Africa.
WARNING: I'm a bit harsh in this review. Sorry. 

I have to admit that I mainly requested this because it's set in South Africa. I mean, a YA contemporary taking place in South Africa sounds darn interesting, right? It's not, I was actually quite disappointed.

Our main character is Grace, she's 18 and away from home for the first time. Grace and two friends, Brett and Louisa, go to Baboon Point for a week and it's far from boring. Grace, apparently, has sex with an older guy, well 35 to be exact, and he stays with them for a couple of days and then things go wrong.
Already 20 pages in I had a feeling that this would end badly for me, I hate reading books which disappoint me. When I found out about the age different between Grace and Spook it got worse. I hate big age differences, I mean 20 and 25 are not bad, neither are 18 and 24 but 18 and 35 - that's awful.

Grace's 'feelings' towards Spook is so fake it awful, yes he kissed her, yes they had sex, yes they had that great moment on the beach but her 'falling in love with him' is not a big part of the story and when you come to the ending you realize how incredibly fake this whole romance was.
I feel like I'm a bit harsh, and I probably am, but this book just took all the things I normally enjoy in books and ruined them. The main character is so incredibly annoying and depressing, her friends are well, better than her, but still not that great when it comes down to it.
Spook is probably one of the worst characters I've ever come across. In the beginning he was interesting and probably my favorite character of them all and then... Well, he's definitely not my favorite anymore.

So, when it comes to the actual story I really didn't care for it. Nothing exciting happens, or rather, when something exciting, dangerous or just funny happens, or is about to, Grace walks away. So all the bits that I would probably have enjoyed in this book isn't there because Grace keeps to herself.

I settled on a 2 star rating, the good part of the ending and the fact that I actually finished the book resulted in me not giving it a single star.
I'm sorry but I really do not recommend this book..

8 June 2015

Only We Know by Simon Packham

Series: N/A, Standalone
Publication date: June 4, 2015
Publisher: Piccadilly Press
Genres: YA, Contemporary
Format: Review copy
Source: The publisher  in exchange for an honest review
Pages: 229

What is the secret of Lauren's past?

Lauren's family have moved house very suddenly, and she and her sister Tilda have to go to a new school. Lauren's determined to reinvent herself, but she's panic-stricken when she sees Harry, who she knew a few years ago. Luckily Harry doesn't recognise her, and she knows she has to make sure it stays like that. 

Lauren, unlike Tilda, settles in well. She makes friends, is helping to organise the school fashion show, and has boys asking her out. But just as her life finally seems to be looking up she starts receiving macabre packages. When she gets a message: 'Isn't it time your new friends knew all about you?' she has to admit that someone knows her secret. But who - and what should she do?

Only We Know is a very mysterious story about Lauren who has a big secret - you don't really know what's actually going on until the end and that's probably what I disliked the most about this story.

You know those books where there is this big secret you don't know anything about? Either you love those stories or you don't and sometimes the ending, the big reveal, is quite anticlimactic. The ending in Only We Know is probably one of the most surprising endings I've ever come across, but the story leading up to it is not anything worth mentioning. Sorry.

Our main character is Lauren, they moved to another city because of her and her secret and that's basically what the story is about. The book is quite short so you can't expect major character developments but Lauren didn't really do it for me anyway. I found her annoying, extremely paranoid and I just didn't like her.
The parents I downright hated, they are so pushy and want to know everything that's going on with her. I would hate it if my parents were like hers.
Harry is probably the only character I like in this whole book, the transformation he's gone through, the development, is amazing. I wouldn't describe him as perfect, like Lauren does, but he's definitely a great guy. So trustworthy, sweet and very thoughtful and kind. All the traits we like in boys! If the book had been better I probably would have considered Harry as a new book boyfriend.
The theme, for me, when it comes to characters is that I find them quite flat. If the characters had been more interesting, or just better, I think I would have liked the story more.

The secret. Even though it was this big secret who drew me to the book it is actually the thing I disliked the most. The problem is that you have no idea what the secret actually is; did she kill someone, did she hurt someone or did she send nude pictures to the whole school? Sometimes these mysterious books are the best, but the execution in this one ruined everything. If you have no idea, and I really mean no idea, what's going on it's really not that funny. I understand that the ending should be quite climactic and surprising, but when you don't get any hints to what the secret is, the reader gets, or I get, quite annoyed.

So, even though I was looking forward to this book it disappointed me on a whole other level. The characters are flat, the main character is boring, the mystique ruins the book and the ending is quite climactic. The only reason I didn't give this book a lower rating is the ending, I appreciate the idea and I liked the surprise, but the mystique was too much.

BLOG TOUR: After We Fall by Emma Kavanaugh, excerpt

Series: N/A, Standalone
Publication date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 336

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A moody, intense debut psychological thriller by a former police psychologist, this debut novel explores four lives that fall apart in the tense aftermath of a plane crash, perfect for fans of Tana French, S. J. Watson, and Alice LaPlante. Unraveling what holds these four together is a tense, taut tale about good people who make bad decisions that ultimately threaten to destroy them. Debut author Emma Kavanagh deftly weaves together the stories of those who lost someone or something of themselves in one tragic incident, exploring how swiftly everything we know can come crashing down.

The following excerpt is from chapter 3

Jim: Thursday, March 15, 6:25 p.m.
It was the darkness. That was his first warning that there was something wrong.
Jim had pulled up outside his daughter’s house, driving carefully, muttering to himself. Ridiculous weather. Cold would decimate his daffodils, yellow trumpet heads bowing under the weight of the snow. He had pushed open the car door, carefully hoisting the plate from the passenger seat. Had ducked his head, pulling his chin into the neck of his thick jacket. Snowflakes crept down the back of his neck. He knew that Libby wouldn’t be home. She would be at work, was afternoons today, but it would be here for her when she returned. She’s too skinny, that girl. Esther had been making cookies, narrow arms fearsome as she pounded together sugar and butter. I swear she’s disappearing.
Jim had hurried down the path, thinking that it was slick, that perhaps he would salt it before he left. Had swerved to one side, to where the snow was thicker, the grip firmer, because that was the last thing he needed, falling in the snow like some decrepit man. Breaking a damn hip. Thirty years on the police force and winding up a snowbound corpse in a housing complex, delivering pork chops to his youngest. It was unsettling enough, this retirement thing, without the indignity of that. That was when he had realized that there was no line of light creeping its way between the closed curtains. He had stopped, right there in the snow. Had frowned.
It wasn’t like Libby.
Libby hated the darkness, always had, even when she was a little girl; needed the reassurance of knowing that there was life there, no monsters under the bed. Would leave the living room light on day and night, even though he had nagged her about wasting electricity, teasing her that no police officer should be afraid of the dark, even an unwarranted police community support officer, a cop on the beat with a scant eight months on the force. But not tonight. Tonight the house was black.
He slipped the key into the lock, pushing open the door, and slowly reached, flicking on the light.
The room was as it should be. Everything in its place. The cat blinked at him, curled into the sofa with its plumped cushions. A tiny creature, white and black, little pink nose and two black smudges across its eyes that gave the impression of a boxer down on his luck. With a long stretch it jumped down, letting loose a meow too big for its little body, began weaving its way around Jim’s legs.
“Hey, Charlie.”
Jim crouched down, scanning the room as the cat curled itself into him. It was tidy, everything tucked away as it always was. Apart from the coat, flung across the arm of the sofa. Jim’s pulse quickened.
Libby’s work coat. The one she had worn when she came home on her first day in uniform. A police community support officer. Almost like her daddy. There was a plan—there was always a plan. Serve her time, learn everything there was to learn, and when they started recruiting again, apply to be a police constable. Then, when she had gained enough experience, start the climb, to sergeant, then inspector, then super. Just like her daddy. He reached down, fingering the lapel of the coat.
Jim pushed himself up. The kitchen door was closed. She never closed the door, because then the cat couldn’t get to its food, and she doted on that damn cat, ever since she’d found it curled up in the brambles that ran alongside the railway tracks, a tiny, shivering bundle of fur. Letting it eat her out of house and home, sleeping on her bed and following her around like they were joined at the hip. He eased the handle down, snapping on the light.
The surfaces had been wiped down, chairs tucked snug beneath the kitchen table, floor mopped. The cat’s bowl was empty. Charlie ran to it, pushing his head against it. A look back at Jim, a loud meow.
Jim stood there for a moment, trying to identify the unease. A quick look up, eye caught by movement beyond the window, but it was just the falling snow. He slid the bowl onto the kitchen table. The cat was twisting around him, knotting itself around his legs.
“All right. Let’s get you some food.”
Jim crouched down, levering open the narrow cupboard that stood alongside the fridge. He would call her, just to check, and she’d laugh at him, would say that he was getting soft in his old age. But he would call anyway. After all, he was a father. That was what you did.
Then the cat leaped at him, tiny frame landing on his folded knees. Light, hardly any weight at all, but enough to startle him. Jim swayed, knocked off balance, grabbing at the side of the cupboard to save himself. To stop himself from falling.

He laughed, insides fizzing from the almost fall. Was just thinking about how quickly everything could change. He let go of the cupboard. Then he saw the blood.

Emma Kavanagh is a former police and military psychologist, and author of After We Fall: A Novel (Sourcebooks). 
Twitter: @EmmaLK