Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Review | Roar by Cecelia Ahern

Image and video hosting by TinyPicRoar by Cecelia Ahern
Published On: November 1, 2018
Published By: Harper Collins
Genre: Adult, General Fiction, Anthology
Pages: 352
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
Rating: ★★★★
Amazon | BD | Goodreads

I am woman. Hear me roar. 
Have you ever imagined a different life? 
Have you ever stood at a crossroads, undecided? 
Have you ever had a moment when you wanted to roar? 
The women in these startlingly original stories are all of us: the women who befriend us, the women who encourage us, the women who make us brave. 
From The Woman Who Slowly Disappeared to The Woman Who Was Kept on the Shelf and The Woman Who Returned and Exchanged her Husband, discover thirty touching, often hilarious, stories and meet thirty very different women. Each discovers her strength; each realizes she holds the power to make a change. Witty, tender, surprising, these keenly observed tales speak to us all, and capture the moment when we all want to roar.

*A copy of this book was provided by the published via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

It is no secret that Cecelia Ahern is a favourite author of mine. In fact, I think I start every review of one of her books with that exact sentence. Of course, being one of my favourite authors, I was very excited to get to her newest release. I was unsure about the premise, but I trusted I would enjoy it as I have never not enjoyed a Cecelia Ahern book. 

This is unlike anything I have read before. It features thirty short stories, many only a few pages in length, each following an different woman. These stories take common issues and prejudices facing women in the world today and give them a fantastical twist by taking them very literally. For example, The Woman Who Had A Ticking Clock deals with the societal pressures on women over a certain age to have children and features a woman with a literal ticking clock. I found it incredibly clever and unique.

While I did enjoy this book and all of the stories within it, I didn't feel this was Cecelia Ahern's best writing. The stories were clever in content but the writing felt quite basic at times. I also found myself getting a little bored at times as the stories felt quite similar. However, these are my only complaints. I generally really enjoyed it and took a lot of great messages from the stories.

Overall, I think this is a very good collection of short stories. The stories are unique, I have never read anything like them before, and all contained an important message. I found this book to be quite powerful as a whole and I would definitely encourage you to pick it up if you want to feel good about being a woman, or if you want to look at current issues facing women but in a very different way.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Down The TBR Hole | Round 9

Down The TBR Hole is a meme created by Lost In A Story in which you attempt to reduce your Goodreads TBR. It basically involves organising your Goodreads 'Want To Read' shelf by date from oldest to newest, looking at the first 5-10 books and decided whether you're still interested or not.

Image and video hosting by TinyPicTake A Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg

This is a book I feel like I would have loved a few years ago. It follows a group of teens at  performing arts school and the challenges that come with trying to make it in that world. I love books set in schools and I have always had an interest in performing arts. However, I think I have grown out of this book now.

Judgement: Go

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Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor

From the synopsis alone, this sounds like the kind of book I would reach for. It is about two best friends and how they deal with one of them getting sick. This sounds like the kind of emotional contemporary I could fall in love with. The one thing that makes me question keeping this on my TBR is the reviews. A lot of the Goodreads reviews are people who had to DNF it, which is a bit worrying. I don't think I'll dismiss it just yet.

Judgement: Stay

Image and video hosting by TinyPicMy Best Friend's Girl by Dorothy Koomson

This one sounds really interesting. It follows to college best friends whose friendship was ruined when one slept with the other's fiance. When they reunite years later, the betrayed friend is asked to adopt her friend's daughter. It is an intriguing premise but it is not a book I can see myself picking up over the many others I want to read.

Judgement: Go

Image and video hosting by TinyPicThe Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

This is a book I heard so many great things about back when it was first published in 2014. From what I can tell it is basically a story about high school rumours. There are rumours being spread about Alice that go too far after a boy dies in a car accident. This definitely sounds like a book I would enjoy.

Judgement: Stay

Image and video hosting by TinyPicMy Last Kiss by Bethany Neal

This follows a girl who dies on the night of her seventeenth birthday party but believes it was not a suicide like everyone has assumed. She now has to uncover the truth behind her death and the mystery surrounding her last kiss with possibly the wrong boy. This is another one that I think I would have really enjoyed a couple of years ago but doesn't really excite me anymore. I don't see myself ever picking this one up.

Judgement: Go

There we have it, another three books taken off my TBR. I am really enjoying looking back at the books I added to Goodreads as far back as 2014, I am discovering books I had completely forgotten about.

Have you read either of the books I am keeping? Have I made the right decisions?

Sophie :)

Friday, 8 February 2019

What I've Been Watching | January 2019

'What I've Been Watching' is a feature I started back in 2017 to discuss all of the movies and TV shows I had been watching. I gave up on it around mid-2017, but I think it's time to bring it back. I obviously love to read, but I also love to watch TV and movies, so I want to share my thoughts on them too.

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Taylor Swift Reputation Stadium Tour - I can't even begin to tell you how much I loved this. I've watched it multiple times and I never get over how good it is. I missed out on seeing Taylor's Reputation tour so I was very excited to find out it was coming to Netflix. This tour was amazing, everything, from the stage to the lighting to the outfits, is so impressive. I could watch it over and over and never get bored.

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Scandal Season 7 - I put off finishing Scandal because I just didn't want it to end. I finally decided to go for it and I really loved the final season. I have been obsessed with this show since I first started watching it. I love the political drama and all the crazy twists and turns. I'm so sad it is over, especially as parts of that final episode killed me. It's just such a good show.

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Friends Season 2 - I have seen every episode of Friends but I have never watched it from start to finish in order. So I am now rewatching Friends in order, like how normal people watch shows. I finished season 2 in January and it was a lot of fun. I prefer the later seasons but I love this show so I'm going to enjoy watching it no matter what season I'm on. I have grown up watching Friends, it's like my comfort show.

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The Good Place Season 1 - After hearing a lot of great things from friends about this show, I finally decided to try it out. It took me a few episodes to get into but now I am hooked. It's hilarious, quick to get through and really cleverly done. I love Kristen Bell but the rest of the cast are equally great. I think this could become a new favourite.

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Fyre: The Greatest Part That Never Happened - A little known fact about me: I love a documentary. This Netflix documentary has been all anyone has been talking about recently so I had to check it out. I think I was living under a rock because I had never heard of Fyre and has no knowledge of this festival before watching the documentary. It was all totally crazy to me, I couldn't believe what I was watching. The documentary itself was a little disjointed and confusing at times, it jumped around a bit. However, I did think it was pretty well done and I did find it interesting to watch.

I didn't watch a whole lot in January but I definitely seem to be making up for that in February if the first week of the month is anything to go by. I am always looking for recommendations so please let me know anything you think I might like based on what I watched in January. 

Did you watch anything great in January?

Sophie :)

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Review | Fierce Fragile Hearts by Sara Barnard

Image and video hosting by TinyPicFierce Fragile Hearts by Sara Barnard
Series: Beautiful Broken Things #2
Published On: February 7, 2019
Published By: Macmillan
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 354
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
Rating: ★★★★★
Amazon | BD | Goodreads

Two years after a downward spiral took her as low as you can possibly go, Suzanne is starting again. (Again.) She's back in Brighton, the only place she felt she belonged, back with her best friends Caddy and Rosie. But they're about to leave for university.  
When your friends have been your light in the darkness, what happens when you're the one left behind?

*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

I often find that when you really loved a book, it is very difficult to gather your thoughts in order to give a review that says more than just 'OMG this book was amazing'. However, I will try my hardest.

I didn't know what to expect when I picked up Beautiful Broken Things and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Going into Fierce Fragile Hearts, the follow up to BBT, I expected I would enjoy it. Yet it still managed to pleasantly surprise me by exceeding all of my expectations. 

While various topics are discussed in this book, and the characters are all dealing with their own problems, the core of the book is friendship. We follow the original friendship group from the previous book - Suzanne, Caddy and Rosie - as they face the newest challenge in their friendship. Suzanne has just moved back as her two best friends are leaving for university and this book does a great job of authentically dealing with the challenges that brings. As much as I adore the original friendship dynamic, possibly my favourite thing about this book was the new friendships it introduces. With her friends away, Suzanne builds new relationships. This throws some new characters into the mix and I loved each one of them.

The characters are the real highlight of this book, just as they were in the previous book. They are real, genuine young adults (well, most of them) navigating life and the various challenges and questions that brings. I often find that characters this age are more what an adult thinks they should be, while these characters feel very authentic and, in some ways, remind me of myself at that age. They are all so well developed and each character shows incredible growth throughout the book. Suzanne's characters growth, in particular, is something that greatly contributed to my rating this book 5 stars. I still tear up thinking about the Suzanne we see at the end of this book compared to the girl we see at the beginning, and even more so the one we first meet. I really connected with these characters, which made for an emotional rollercoaster of a reading experience.

Unlike Beautiful Broken Things, this book was written from Suzanne's point of view. To me, this was the perfect idea as so much of Suzanne was a mystery in the first book. It was interesting to learn more about Suzanne and get answers to some of the questions raised in the first book. I felt I understood her character much more and appreciated her struggles, as well as why she makes the decisions she does.

The characters are very much the main focus of this book and progress the story more so than the plot itself. The plot of this book is not action packed or drama filled, but it is full of difficulties and hurdles facing the characters. We get an insight into Suzanne's life as a care leaver and the struggles that come with living independently for the first time, which is something I have never read in a YA novel before. This is real life for many young people and I think it is important to showcase that. 

This book does deal with some tough topics including abuse and attempted suicide. Suzanne also deals with a lot of anxiety and panic attacks are depicted within the book. I felt the abuse and attempted suicide topics were discussed sensitively, however I do not have experience of these to accurately say how well they were handled. As someone who has dealt with anxiety for a long time, though, I have nothing but praise for the way Sara Barnard portrays it within all of her books. This was no exception, I felt the anxiety representation was incredibly accurate and I really felt what Suzanne was experiencing at times.

Overall, this was an wonderfully written, beautiful story of an incredibly strong young woman learning how to live her life after dealing with a horrific past. It features some of the best friendships I have ever read, involving so many fabulous characters that I just want as my own friends. This has firmly placed Sara Barnard as one of my favourite authors, I want to read anything she ever writes.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Haul | January 2019

I'm trying to do better at keeping track of the books I buy in 2019, so what better way to do that than to go back to posting monthly book hauls. I'm hoping I can stick to my not buying many books goals and these won't feature too many books, but that hasn't really happened in the past. I only bought 5 books in January and all were on audiobook. I decided to cancel my audible account, at least for a little while, and had 5 credits remaining. As you lose any credits when you cancel your account, I had to treat myself to some new books since I wasn't letting them go to waste.

As Long As You Love Me by Ann Aguirre - This is the second book in the 2B trilogy, the first book being I Want It That Way, which I read back in 2016. The sequel follows a side character from the first book, but I remember so little about it that I can't remember her at all. It is a NA romance about a girl who moves back to her home town and, I believe, gets pretty close to her best friend's older brother.

Becoming by Michelle Obama - This is Michelle Obama's memoir and I have been dying to read it since it was published last year. I have heard so many amazing things about it, and it has a CRAZY high average rating on Goodreads. She narrates the audiobook herself, which I always find adds so much to the book.

Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher - I read this one in January and really enjoyed listening to the audiobook and reading the physical book together. This is Giovanna's debut novel and is about a woman from a small English town who meets a famous actor and her life completely changes. 

Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate - This is another one I read in January so I'm not doing too badly with reading books soon after buying them. This follows seven high school students as a scandal takes place in their school. Each of the seven students represents each of the seven deadly sins, which is a really interesting concept.

Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham - Another memoir, apparently I'm in the mood for them just now. This is the memoir of Lauren Graham, probably best known from Gilmore Girls. This is also narrated by Lauren herself, which I think will be great because she is hilarious.

That is everything I bought in January. I even managed to not add to my physical TBR this month, which is always the goal. 

Have you read any of these books? What should I pick up soon?

Sophie :)

Friday, 1 February 2019

Wrap Up | January 2019

Everyone complains that January goes so slowly but I can't believe it is time for the first monthly wrap up of 2019. I managed to kick of the year with a pretty decent reading month. I read 10 books in January, which is really good for me! I also really enjoyed everything I read, with my lowest rating being 3 stars, and even found my first 5 star book of the year. I'm really hoping I can keep this up in February.

The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward - 
This is the first book in a YA fantasy series about a princess who accidentally drinks a love potion and falls in love with herself, and a young alchemist involved in the competition to find her a cure. I was going to unhaul this as I lost interest, but decided to try the first chapter before making up my mind. I am so glad I did this as I ended up desperate to read it. I picked it up for my first read of 2019 and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was so much fun, I flew through it. It is not a literary masterpiece - the world-building and character development are a little lacking - but it is a really enjoyable read with some fun adventures and a lot going on. I will definitely be carrying on with the series.
Rating: 4/5

A Quiet Kind Of Thunder by Sara Barnard -
After reading and enjoying Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard last year, I decided to pick up another of her books. This follows a girl with selective mutism & social anxiety and a boy who is deaf as they meet and get to know each other. I thought this was so insanely adorable, I loved both main characters and how their relationship developed as they got to know each other more. I can't speak to the representation of selective mutism or deafness, although I did find the insight into both very interesting, but I can speak for the anxiety representation, which was some of the best I have ever read. My only small issue with this book was that things got a little over dramatic towards the end. I love Sara Barnard and will read everything she writes.
Rating: 4/5

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick -
I have loved Anna Kendrick since before she was the crazy big deal she is now, so of course I had to read her memoir. I have had this on my shelves for ages but, for whatever reason, didn't pick it up until now. I found it very entertaining with a lot of laugh out loud moments, as you would expect from Anna Kendrick. However, I did find it was a bit dry at times and I got a little bored. I think that is just the nature of this kind of book, it can't all be exciting. I did enjoy it and would definitely recommend listening to the audiobook as she narrates it herself.
Rating: 3.5/5

Fierce Fragile Hearts by Sara Barnard - 
This is the sequel/companion to Beautiful Broken Things, one of my favourite reads of 2018. It follows Suzanne two years after the events of the first book. I absolutely loved this book! The characters are some of my favourites ever, and the friendships, both new and old, are amazing. The plot is not full of crazy twists and turns and a lot of drama, but it is such a beautiful story. It is not slow-paced, despite being very character focused, and is so well written. I could rave about this book all day.
Rating: 5/5

Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher -

I don't know how many TBR lists this has been on over the last few years but I have finally read it. This follows a woman who meets a famous actor and is taken out of her comfortable small town world and thrust into his. This was a nice, enjoyable read, but it wasn't anything special. I have read one of Giovanna Fletcher's more recent novels, which I enjoyed much more, and this made it very apparent that this was her first published work. It wasn't bad, it was a sweet romance with nice characters and a steady moving plot, but I just found that there was nothing particularly unique or memorable about it.
Rating: 3.5/5

Giant Days Volume 1 by John Allison, Lissa Treiman & Whitney Cogar -
I discovered that graphic novels are available on Scribd so decided it was the perfect excuse to try out some that I have heard great things about. This is one series that I have heard a lot of people rave about. It is about a group of friends navigating university life. As I am coming to the end of my university life, I really enjoyed following characters just getting started and found it quite nostalgic. The plot wasn't the most exciting and it felt a bit disjointed as we jumped from one storyline to the next. However, the characters are great and the art is beautiful so I will definitely keep reading.
Rating: 3/5

Giant Days Volume 2 by John Allison, Lissa Treiman, Max Sarin & Whitney Cogar -
My thoughts on this are basically the same as the first volume. I did enjoy this a little bit more and I think that will continue to be the case as I get to know these characters more throughout the volumes.
Rating: 3/5

Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate -
I picked this up one audiobook on a whim after hearing some good things about it in the past. It follows seven students as a scandal breaks in their high school. They are all very different, with their own issues going on, but are brought together as the scandal drama ensues. I didn't enjoy this as much as I expected to. I struggled to differentiate between the characters as I struggled to work out which narrator was who, but also as the character's written voices were all pretty similar. I also found it a bit boring and don't remember a lot of what happened already. It did get better towards the end as the story picked up and I enjoyed the last quarter a lot more.
Rating: 3/5

Roar by Cecelia Ahern -
This is something quite different from one of my favourite authors. It is thirty short stories of thirty women, all sharing messages of issues facing women in the world today. Each story is incredibly unique and they all feature a very interesting take on these issues. It is so hard to explain, I'm sure there are reviewers on Goodreads who have done a much better job than me. I really enjoyed this, I thought the stories were very clever and written well. I did lose interest at times as some stories felt very similar to others and thirty stories is quite a lot. Overall, I think it was very well done.
Rating: 4/5

Pivot Point by Kasie West -
Kasie West is one of my favourite authors but I have only ever read her contemporary books. I wanted to give her paranormal duology a go to see if I enjoyed it just as much. Pivot Point is the first book in the duology, which follows a girl who has the power to see both outcomes when faced with a choice. When her parents divorce she is faced with the choice of staying with her mother or moving with her father and uses her power to determine which option to take. This was a very interesting concept and I really enjoyed reading both outcomes. Despite being paranormal, it read much like a regular Kasie West contemporary, with a lot of focus on love interests and friendship. I would have liked a little more information on the Compound and the powers of those who lived there, the story lacked world building. Although I enjoyed it, it took me forever to get through. I wanted to not be able to put it down but ended up not finding the desire to pick it up a lot of the time. Perhaps I just wasn't in the right mood for it. However, like I said, I did really enjoy it and definitely want to pick up the sequel some time soon.
Rating: 4/5

Those are the ten books I read in January. I'm so glad I got 2019 off to a good start, I just hope it continues.

What did you read in January? Did you find your first 5 star read of the year?

Sophie :)

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Unhaul | Bookshelf Declutter

Like I do at the beginning of every year, I have recently had a bit of a declutter of my bookshelves. I don't like to get rid of books I read in the year I read them, for whatever strange reason, so tend to get rid of a lot in January. This year is no different, I am getting rid of quite a number of books for a few different reasons.

The Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy by Jenny Han - I finished this series in 2018 and while I thought the first two books were fine, I didn't enjoy the last book and know I will never reread it.

Tell Me No Lies by AV Geiger - This is the second book in a duology that was just average for me the first time around, I know I wont pick it up again.

My (Secret) Youtube Life by Charlotte Seager - I've talked about my frustration with this book a couple of times already. I loved one perspective and hated the other. I just didn't love one enough to put up with the other a second time.

The Baby by Lisa Drakeford - I really enjoyed this book when I read it but I just don't have any desire to read it more than once. Someone else can enjoy it instead.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon - I have been hanging on to this for a few years now with the hope that I will reread it and enjoy it the second time. However, it hasn't happened yet so I don't think it ever will.

The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon - I didn't love this book but I did love this cover, which is why I held on to it. As much as the cover is beautiful, I need the shelf space.

Solitaire by Alice Oseman - Unfortunately, this was a bit of a disappointment when I read it last year. It just wasn't for me but I know someone else could love it.

They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera - This is one that I enjoyed when I first read it but just don't see myself ever picking up again. 

Super Awkward by Beth Garrod - Again, I really enjoyed this but I know I won't reread it. I know someone who would love this so it seems right to pass it on.

Insurgent, Allegiant and Four by Veronica Roth - I have been hanging on to the Divergent series but I disliked Insurgent so much that I don't think I will ever make it through this series a second time. I really loved the first book, though, so I am keeping a hold of it.

Vampire Academy and Frostbite by Richelle Mead - I enjoyed the first two books in this series but I am unsure about whether I am going to continue with it. I do know that I am not likely to reread these books so I don't see the point in hanging on to them.

The Selection Stories by Kiera Cass - I still adore the Selection series and these short stories but they also feature in the other collection of short stories, Happily Ever After, and I don't need them twice.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer - I finally started this series in 2018 and, while I did enjoy this book, I don't think I will be continuing this series. There are just too many other books I want to read more. I don't see myself ever rereading Cinder either.

Bridget Jones' Baby: The Diaries by Helen Fielding - This is another one I read and really enjoyed but I won't be rereading. I would rather just watch the movie repeatedly.

A Nurse and Mother by Evelyn Prentis - This has been on my shelves for years and I have never picked it up. I'm just not really interested anymore and there are so many other books I want to read.

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella - Sophie Kinsella is not for me. I have read a few of her other books and not enjoyed them so I will most likely never pick this one up.

Can You Keep A Secret? by Sophie Kinsella - This is one of those Sophie Kinsella books I have read. I didn't hate it but I didn't really enjoy it so it is going to someone else who can appreciate it more.

Those are the 20 books I am getting rid of at the beginning of 2019. The majority are books that I have already read, which doesn't do much for my ever growing TBR. It does give me some more space on my overflowing bookshelves, though.

Does anyone else enjoy a good unhaul to start the new year? 

Sophie :)