30 June 2015

Monthly Wrap Up: June

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I don’t know how June went so quickly. I feel like it only started last week and it’s already over! And that means we are now halfway through the year, I don’t know if I can deal with that. Although, I reached over 100 books read this month, so hopefully that is a sign the year is going well? I’m not sure. It’s a sign of something I suppose. I’m just reading while I’m enjoying it really. I don’t think my posting has been as good as in some other months, but I will try to do better with July. Honest.

June Reads

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June Posts

June Favourites

Megan @ Adrift on Vulcan: How Do You Balance All Your Obsessions?

 

That is my month, really. I would ramble on some more but today has been so unbearably warm, much like yesterday, and I am actually slightly put off from being too long on my computer simply for the heat the thing can generate over prolonged periods of time. I don’t handle the heat well so this mini heatwave in the UK is killing me. I’m off to eat lots of ice cream and add ice cubes to all my drinks now. I’ll speak to you again in a couple of days.

Top Ten Books I've Read So Far In 2015

I’ve now read over 100 books this year, so this weeks topic from The Broke and the Bookish is rather challenging for me. I’ve tried to narrow my choices down as much as possible, but there is every chance I’m still going to have too many book choices, so for that I apologise.
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Uprooted / Thorn / The Wrath & The Dawn / A Darker Shade of Magic
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The Girl At Midnight / White Cat / Nowhere But Here
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Confess / Saint Anything / Just One Day / Romancing The Duke

And these are my favourite books so far. There are a couple more I wanted to include, but I just about managed to narrow it down to 11 (10 was asking too much). I would love to know your picks to try and get an idea of what I should try reading this year.

28 June 2015

Sunday Summary: 28.06.2015

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I am actually writing this Friday because I have literally no time this week. I began the week dreading going back to work and functioning like a zombie whilst also trying to sort the house out for my parents return. After working all day spent the evening on Monday tidying the house after living like a slob. Tuesday there was all the excitement of my parents return and the drama of their suitcases getting left behind in Toronto (I can imagine nothing worse). It was a friends birthday Wednesday and I was hanging out with her on Thursday evening. Then Saturday I’ve got a conference to go to with work during the day and then I’m off out in the evening to properly celebrate my friends birthday. So, I’ve got a bit of a busy week this week. I’m amazed I’ve even managed to get any blog posts up.

 

I still need to catch up on the comments on my blog going back to last week! I’ve been attempting to keep on top of my blog feed as well. I came back from work today and had 70 posts to read, if it ever reaches 100 I might just cry. I have been failing at commenting, but next week I’ll be better, I promise. Unless something comes up in my day to day life, if so I apologise in advance.

 

My busyness also means I’ve had like no time to read. I have not finished a single book this week! That is unheard of. I don’t think it helps that I’m reading Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell on my kindle at work and it’s over 1000 pages long! If I’d known that I would have chosen to put off reading it a bit longer. I’ve gotten to the point of the second episode (I think). I’ve been watching the TV adaptation on BBC and I am loving it, if I am a bit frustrated as well by it.

 

What I’ve Been Reading

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New To Me

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Anyway, this is just a quick post. As you can see, I’ve bought far more than I’ve read… oops? I’ve got to attempt to get a bunch of blog posts written, now, so don’t mind me whilst I enter hermitdom.

25 June 2015

Jesse’s Girl–Miranda Kenneally

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Jesse’s Girl – Miranda Kenneally
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Young Adult
Release Date: 1st July 2015
My Rating:
Practice Makes Perfect.


Everyone at Hundred Oaks High knows that career mentoring day is a joke. So when Maya Henry said she wanted to be a rock star, she never imagined she’d get to shadow *the* Jesse Scott, Nashville’s teen idol.

But spending the day with Jesse is far from a dream come true. He’s as gorgeous as his music, but seeing all that he’s accomplished is just a reminder of everything Maya’s lost: her trust, her boyfriend, their band, and any chance to play the music she craves. Not to mention that Jesse’s pushy and opinionated. He made it on his own, and he thinks Maya’s playing back up to other people’s dreams. Does she have what it takes to follow her heart—and go solo?
I almost forgot I’d requested this book on NetGalley, so when that little email came through that I had been approved I was surprised. I was more surprised than I normally am when I’m approved for books. What I didn’t realise at the time of requesting is that this was another Hundred Oaks novel. That was probably stupid of me, I knew Miranda Kenneally wrote those books, but the premise seems so different to some of the other books that I was surprised. Luckily for me, these books can be read in any order, and I’m glad I didn’t realise because it meant I want into the book blind, and that’s sometimes better.

Sometimes a book can start slow and leave you wondering if anything is going to happen to grip you, this was not one of those books. I loved how you were just thrown straight into this book, you were told about shadow day and new immediately Maya was to shadow a famous country singer. There was none of the usual introduction and set up for the story, it got rid of that and you just knew what was happening. Maya and Jesse met almost immediately and then the story could begin. That was great, and really appreciated because I sometimes hate the unnecessary build up for a meeting. It did feel like the first part of the story was a bit rushed though. It was like they met and then you spent half the book on the day they spent together. And then the second half rushed through a story to create some drama. Luckily for Kenneally I like drama, but I did hope for a bit more balance in the book.

Also, I do feel like their connection was rushed. I get that there was only a day to establish their connection, and in Jesse’s world, time is a precious thing and that as a teenager everything is instant and all or nothing, but it still felt rushed. I don’t know, that could be me though.

Enough complaining, I did love it. I enjoyed Maya’s passion for music and her willingness to learn even at the beginning, taking advantage of every opportunity given to her, even if she didn’t exactly want to. She was headstrong and driven and that was admirable. There was none of that timidity in her that is too often seen in protagonists, this unwillingness to admit they have talent, she recognised she had some skill and showed a strength of will in trying to pursue her dream, even thought she was uncertain if she truly possessed the potential to go all the way. She recognised that if you don’t try you don’t get. She didn’t listen to others when they were negative about something but continued to do what she thought best.

Most importantly it was absolutely amazing to see Jordan and Sam Again. I’ve only read the first book Catching Jordan, so to see them again further on in their life was amazing, and they were just as adorable as they were in the first book.

It was a mixed books for me, as with every book there were flaws, but I did enjoy it. It was a light easy read with a bit of teenage drama made more dramatic by one half of the couple being a teenage celebrity. It also had a girl who knew when to fight for her dreams, which was great when too frequently girls end up sacrificing things for the male in the story. It’s also an enjoyable read because it’s a fun story. It’s farfetched and ridiculous but the characters are great, and you can’t fault it for the crazy good family dynamic here. I would recommend it for a quick a easy read in summer.

Has anyone else read this, or any of the other Hundred Oaks books? What do you think of these contemporary YA reads, should I check out the others?

23 June 2015

Struggling to Discuss Books You Love

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As you noticed from the giant Bite Sized Books last week, I struggle at remembering to review books. I have notes littered in various places about what I thought of the books I’ve read but so few get turned into actual reviews. It’s not that I don’t want to review the books I read, but too often I find myself loving a book too much to properly do a book justice. Do you ever get that?

 

I find myself loving a book so much I’m not certain I will do it justice in a review. Some of these reviews do get turned into reviews because I form my words into reasonably coherent thoughts, but far more just get left in my drafts folder to eventually get deleted as they have been abandoned for over three months.

 

I worry in my reviews I’m not the most concise or coherent anyway, but when I love a book all I really want to do is fangirl and flail over it and I want people to fangirl and flail along with me. I don’t want to be critical and write intelligent comments about the book I’ve read, I only want to look at the good, which doesn’t make the best of reviews. I have never been good at looking objectively at the things I love, there are films I adore from childhood I still can’t bare to hear criticism of, even when I know there are plenty of things to be criticised.

 

I just find it hard to be critical of things I love, be it people, books, films or TV, that is a character flaw of mine. I recognise that these flaws exist, I simply do not want to acknowledge and voice them. I’d rather recognise and then promptly ignore. Is that just me?

 

Does anyone else do this? Do you just find yourself unable to properly look at a book without wanting to rave about it to everyone? I know we all have books we love and thrust upon everyone we meet because we want everyone to read and discuss it with you, but there are other books I don’t even want to discuss for fear of you rejecting my opinion. It’s stupid and childish, but I think it’s that part of me that is loving the book.

Emmy & Oliver - Robin Benway

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Emmy & Oliver – Robin Benway
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
Release Date: 16th July 2015
My Rating:
Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?


Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.
She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.
Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.
He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.
Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?
Readers who love Sarah Dessen will tear through these pages with hearts in throats as Emmy and Oliver struggle to face the messy, confusing consequences of Oliver’s father’s crime. Full of romance, coming-of-age emotion, and heartache, these two equally compelling characters create an unforgettable story.
You would not believe how I’ve struggled with reviewing this book. I know that probably makes you think I didn’t like it, but I did. I think that’s the issue! I loved this book. There were so many things to enjoy, but I’ve struggled with how best to verbalise my love. I recently read a post by Cee over at The Novel Hermit about how she struggles to review books she loves and it’s true! It is hard to put into words why you liked a book. I am going to struggle through and try with this book, though.

When I requested this book I admit I expected this to be similar to another book I love, Where The Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller. I didn’t expect the story to be the same, but I was expecting to see similar themes between the two that would either make me love or hate this book. Luckily, these were books were similar in only one way, they looked at the struggle of a child returning to their home after being kidnapped when younger. Every other aspect of the story is different, and most importantly they take completely different approaches to the idea.

Benway didn’t write the story directly from Oliver’s point of view and experience, instead she chose to focus on Emmy, Oliver’s best friend from childhood. I’m glad this book was written with a different perspective as that is what made this story unique. This books is less about Oliver’s experience of returning home and much more about Emmy’s story and how Oliver returning home changed things for her, just as kidnapping had all those years before.

Emmy was instantly a likeable character who was simply struggling with overprotective parents and trying to figure out how to get where she wants to go in life. I liked her instantly, I could appreciate how she is just an awkward person that has lived her life in the same place suffering some of the consequences that came from Oliver being taken. She was a child left behind, who lost her best friend and was too young to understand the whys of it all. She then suffered under her parents overprotective grip and living in a small town.

I loved the friendships she had within the book, as well. It wasn’t just about the friendship between Emmy and Oliver, which managed to survive Oliver's prolonged absence, it was also the friendship she had with Caro and Drew. I loved Emmy’s and Drew’s friendship because they were quiet and reserved and let one another gather themselves and their thoughts before approaching things, unlike the friendship with Emmy and Caro. Caro was louder and more up front and the kind of friend who likes to stand out and take charge. She was far more popular and out there, but never did she abandon her friends, that’s what I loved. These friendships were real, and flawed. Caro was always forgetting to thinks of others, and Emmy was continually keeping too many secrets, and Drew was far too reserved at times. He was never speaking up when necessary, these were real characters.

I also enjoyed the fact that there was a genuine presence of family in this book. Too often in YA novels you find teenagers seemingly living with no parental supervision, free to come and go from their home at whatever hours they wish, it as nice to see some strict parents in a book for once. You understand why Emmy's parents have become so paranoid and controlling and you understand why Oliver's mom seems incapable of treating him like a grown up, because she has him forever frozen in her mind as a little boy, and without the years of him growing up she can't fully grasp the same boy hasn't returned to her. I think that was of the more heart-breaking realisations in this book for me, the fact that there were so many lost years simply because one parent didn't want to risk losing someone.

There are important lessons in this book of understanding, growing up and honestly, but I think the most important one is that there are consequences for everything, not just direct ones either. This is demonstrated by Oliver being taken by his father, it didn't just affect Oliver, but Oliver's family and an entire community as a whole for various reasons. It was interesting to read about the changed that occurred because of one event in someone else's life. I think that is another element I enjoyed in this book, it isn't truly about Oliver, Oliver is just a person in Emmy's life, this book is predominantly about Emmy, she is witnessing the struggles of Oliver returning home, but we are also witnessing her own struggles at home as she is trying to grow up and continually struggling with the restrictions her parents put in place because of their own fear.

It's hard to say what I like about this book, because it is a book with a lot going on and it's not easy to explain my thoughts about everything, but I definitely enjoyed it, more than I ever thought I would. This book is far more than the description makes it seem, and I only hope people pick it up and get a chance to enjoy it as I did.

Have you read Emmy & Oliver, what did you think? Did it hit you as well or was it just another YA read? I’d love to know your thoughts.

21 June 2015

Sunday Summary: 21.06.2015

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I had the week off of work this week, I should have been really productive, gone out, done stuff, written up lots of blog posts, caught up on my blog reading and comments. Did I manage to do any of these things? No. I have played The Sims for a couple of days solid, discovered the wonders of Quidco thanks to Rachel and have now made two orders where I will be getting money back. I’ve ordered books from The Works I’m not completely convinced I need, but when you get money back on them how could you say no?  I can’t wait for those to arrive in the post next week. I’ve also been shopping for birthday presents, I am terrible at birthday shopping because I too frequently find things I want, and that’s not how gift giving works.

 

The most important part of this week, though, is I have manage to survive alone without killing myself. In case you don’t know, I still live with my parents (moving out is expensive and I’ve been told renting is silly, save for your own place) and they have gone away for a couple of weeks. They are back next Tuesday, but it has been me and my brother fending for ourselves. We have succeeded most admirably, I think, we were pleased that we managed to cook fajitas last Sunday without giving ourselves food poisoning as the cooking of chicken was involved.

 

I’ve neglected my blog on my week off, but I’ve literally wanted this to be a week off. I wanted a rest (I didn’t get it, by the way, my dog is torturing me by waking me up to let him out and then he comes back in and sleeps for hours whilst I am then wide awake. Governments should employ this tactic for torturing folk) and to just be able to relax, which is probably why I’ve played The Sims quite so obsessively. I finished the TV show Sense8, it is amazing. Definitely a new favourite series. I’ve also been watching Alias after reading this post by Hannah at So Obsessed With which made it sound so awesome. I’ve gotten through the first season so far and I’m a few episodes in on season 2, but I can feel myself flagging so I’ve taken a break.

 

I’ve also not touched my Kindle all week, a major feat for me because I normally read most of my books on there. I’ve been attempting to read a few books I already have on my shelf that have accumulated very thick layers of dust on them, I’ve read three of them, although one was a new buy, but who cares? It was a success. I’m going to attempt to read one more today and then it’ll be back to Kindle reading because I don’t tend to take actual books out of the house to read, not beyond the garden anyway. I don’t know why, but that is a topic best saved for a discussion on another day.

What I’ve Been Reading

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New To Me

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And those are my books for the week. I’ve had one request approved on NetGalley for Never Always Sometimes and the rest are me spending money I shouldn’t. And next week I’ll have a few more books I shouldn’t have bought, but oh well. It makes me happy so I shan’t complain.

 

Hope you all have had a lovely weekend, hopefully with better weather than we’ve had here in the Midlands, turns out that it will always end up raining after you’ve had a few days of sun. Especially if you’re intending to do some laundry.