Friday, 20 July 2018

Series Review | Did I Mention I Love You? Series by Estelle Maskame

One of my goals for 2018 was to try something new with my reviews and, having realised in my mid-year update that I haven't done that yet, I thought now would be a good time to mix things up. I recently read the second and third books in the DIMILY trilogy by Estelle Maskame, as well as the spin-off/companion novel Just Don't Mention It, so I thought I would try something new and combine my reviews for these books into a series review.

*Please Note: Minor spoilers for previous books in the series may be included in the reviews for the later books. I will try my hardest to avoid spoilers but please be aware that some may slip out.*

Estelle Maskame's DIMILY series follows sixteen-year-old Eden Munro as she spends the summer with her father and his new family in Santa Monica, California, where she meets her new stepmother and three stepbrothers for the first time. One of those stepbrothers is troubled Tyler Bruce, whose bad boy ways both infuriate and intrigue Eden. Throughout the series, we see how these characters grow and how their unconventional relationship develops, as they navigate the challenges of difficult pasts and unknown futures.

Image and video hosting by TinyPicDid I Mention I Love You?
Series: DIMILY #1
Published On: April 30, 2015
Published By: Black & White Publishing
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 422
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★★½
Amazon | Goodreads

A full review of this book can be found here.

I previously reviewed this book after first reading it last year and went into much more detail on my thoughts in that review. Overall, I thought this was a great introduction to the series that was fun, fast-paced and had me not wanting to put it down. It still amazes me that this series was written by someone so young, as it is written so well. However, this made the teenage voice much more authentic and the actions taken by characters felt very realistic. It is 90% a cute, fluffy romance but there are more series topics dealt with throughout the book, which add a lot of depth to the story. I was impressed by how well someone so young wrote about such serious topics, everything was covered with great sensitivity and maturity. My one and only issue with this first book was that some plot points were a bit predictable and a little immature at times, but I did find that this became less of an issue as the series went on.

Image and video hosting by TinyPicDid I Mention I Need You?
Series: DIMILY #2
Published On: October 19, 2015
Published By: Black & White Publishing
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 387
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★★★½
Amazon | Goodreads

Did I Mention I Need You, book two in the series, is most definitely my favourite! This book in no way suffers from second book syndrome, it's full of great story and a whole lot of fun. This book is set two years after DIMILY and follows Eden as she goes to spend the summer in New York with Tyler. I absolutely adored the setting, as I love New York, and was very impressed with Estelle's knowledge of the city, even more so when I discovered she had never even been until after writing this book. I also really loved the development in Eden and Tyler's relationship and to see how their dynamic changed when they were away from family and friends and didn't have to keep things secret. Tyler himself has grown so much between the first and second books, and while it would have been nice to see that growth as it happened, it was great to see how much he had progressed. He did still have a bit of a bad boy side in there though, which I really liked seeing. There is a bit of a cheating storyline in this book that didn't take away from my enjoyment, but did make me a little uncomfortable and may well be an issue for others. Once again, Estelle throws in a big shocker in the ending, as she did with book one, and makes you need to pick up the third book straight away. I can't praise this book enough, I loved it.

Image and video hosting by TinyPicDid I Mention I Miss You?
Series: DIMILY #3
Published On: July 21, 2016
Published By: Black & White Publishing
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★★★
Amazon | Goodreads

The third and final book in the series takes place a year after the events of DIMINY, during Eden's first summer of college. I had very mixed feelings at the beginning of this book because, for the first time during reading this series, I disliked Tyler! I thought his actions were unnecessary and actually found him to be very patronising throughout the book. He grows so much throughout the series but by the third book he isn't showing any of his former bad boy ways, so as a girl who likes a bad boy I kind of lost interest in him. However, there were many things I loved about this book. I loved seeing how Eden and Tyler dealt with not everything in their relationship being good, it made them seem more real and like an authentic relationship. I also found the situation with their family very interesting to read about, particularly as each family member was dealing with things in different ways. We also get another new setting in this book, which I won't disclose because spoilers, and I absolutely loved it. The settings in each of these books are so well written and explored that I feel as though I am visiting these places with the characters, and this setting was no exception. Overall, I think this was a great conclusion to the series as many of the issues arising throughout the series were addressed, as well as some great new plot points and twists introduced, but things weren't wrapped up in a neat little bow. I loved seeing all the characters in this series, not just Tyler and Eden but also their family and friends, grow and develop into the people they are by the end of book three and deal with all of the challenges life throws at them. I honestly feel like these characters are my friends and I have been on one hell of a journey with them.

Image and video hosting by TinyPicJust Don't Mention It
Series: DIMILY #4 (kind of)
Published On: June 21, 2018
Published By: Black & White Publishing
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 470
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
Rating: ★★★★
Amazon | Goodreads

Just Don't Mention It is a spin-off/companion novel to the DIMILY series, which follows two timelines told from Tyler's point of view. The first timeline, present day, is the first book in the series told from Tyler's point of view. The second timeline is five years prior to that telling the story of Tyler's life with his dad. This is a very, very tough book to read. On the one hand, it's great fun to go back to the start of Tyler and Eden's relationship and get to relive that story through Tyler's eyes. However, on the other hand, in the alternate chapters you have the story of Tyler's horrendous childhood and the horrific abuse he suffered. I really enjoyed the present day timeline, particularly as I spent much of DIMILY wondering what on earth Tyler was thinking. It was interesting to see situations from a different perspective and see what was going on when he wasn't with Eden. The past timeline is not something I can say I enjoyed, that definitely isn't the word to use. I found those parts to be incredibly difficult to read and just heartbreaking. Despite the content, they were very well written and such a difficult topic was covered with great sensitivity and maturity, which is impressive from someone so young. I was impressed with how well this book was written overall, and how easily it flipped from one timeline to the other so seamlessly, yet both stories felt completely different. I thought this was a great addition to the series and I felt as though I know Tyler so much better and understand the reasoning behind many of his actions.

Overall, I really love this series. It starts off as a pretty light, fluffy forbidden romance story but becomes so much more. As I mentioned, the characters are written so well that I feel as though they are my friends and I have experienced this journey with them. The settings are written so vividly that I feel as though I have been there. It blows my minds that this series is written by an author who has only recently turned 21! I can't wait to see what else is to come from Estelle Maskame, she is now one of my favourite authors and I will pick up anything she writes.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

2018 Goals | Mid-Year Update

There comes a point in every year where I am struck down by the mother of all slumps. This slump tends to involve both reading and blogging, I have no motivation to do either. This is where I find myself right now, during the month I have the most time to devote to reading and blogging. In an attempt to get myself out of this slump and back on track, I thought it might be helpful to take a look back at the goals I set myself at the beginning of the year and see how I am doing on them now that we have passed the mid-way point of the year.

Goodreads Reading Challenge
Progress: 42/50
This is a number I am super happy about! I set my goal at 50 books every year and have never surpassed that number, in fact I usually don't even reach it. It isn't something I pay much attention to but it is nice to see that I have read way more than usual in the first half of the year. As long as this slump doesn't last too long, I think there's a pretty good chance I'll hit this goal by the end of the year.

Finish 5 Series
Progress: 1/5
I haven't done so well on finishing series so far this year. I was a lot more focused on this goal at the start of the year and then kind of forgot about it. I do still plan on finishing more series in the second half of the year but I'm not quite sure if I'll manage another four. The one series I have finished so far, the DIMILY trilogy by Estelle Maskame, I absolutely loved so that has definitely encouraged me to get reading the other series I have started.

Listen To 5 Audiobooks
Progress: 7/5
Smashed it! I went through a phase of listening to a lot of audiobooks, which meant that I had hit my goal of listening to 5 by May! I'm not raising this number to set myself a further goal but I would like to continue listening to audiobooks throughout the rest of the year as I have been really enjoying them.

Re-Read 5 Books
Progress: 2/5
Confession: I haven't re-read anything since January! This is another goal that I was very focused on at the start of the year and then just forgot about. I have been distracted by a lot of new releases and books that have been sitting on my shelves for a while, so despite wanting to re-read some old favourites I just haven't been doing so. I definitely want to focus more on this goal in the second half of the year.

Read 5 Before Buying
This goal has pretty much gone out the window. I have not been buying nearly as many books this year and if I had stuck to this goal and bought 1/2 new books with every 5 books read, I would probably have bought more. I have been doing a pretty good job of keeping my book buying under control, however I don't think this will continue with YALC coming up.

Physical TBR Under 100
At the start of the year, my physical TBR was sitting about around 130 books and I wanted to get this number under 100. Despite not buying a whole lot of physical books so far this year, I have been reading a lot more eBooks than usual and this has meant that my physical TBR has stayed around the 130 mark. I definitely need to make this a priority for the coming months.

Blog Consistently
I started off so well with this goal! I have been trying so hard to blog consistently this year, and actually managed pretty well in February, but life just got in the way. I have had a pretty tough first half of the year and so my blog has had to take a backseat. I don't know what is going to happen in the second half of the year but I am hopeful that I can get back to blogging as consistently as I can, at least once I get out of this stupid slump.

Revamp Reviews
I didn't really have any ideas in mind as to how I would do this nothing has really changed. I still don't know how I want to change things but I am getting bored of my reviews and just not wanting to write them at the moment. I really need to look into this properly.

I tried. I failed again. I might try again but who knows.

In general, I'm pretty happy with how my year has gone so far. While I might not be on track with many of the goals I set myself, I have read a lot more than I usually do and have enjoyed the majority of books I have read. I plan to do a post focusing on my mid-year statistics, which I think will be quite interesting. For now though, how are you doing with your goals so far this year?

Sophie :)

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Haul | June 2018

I did a new thing in the month of June. For the first time ever, I am sharing a book haul of all books I have read! I don't think I have ever done a monthly haul that has not included an unread book, but I have obviously just been very good at not adding to my physical TBR recently. Every book I bought in the month of June was either a book I had already read but wanted my own copy of, or one I read as soon as I got my hands on it.

Save The Date by Morgan Matson - As I mentioned in my June Wrap Up, this was one of my most anticipated releases on 2018. I pre-ordered this and as soon as it arrived I picked it up and started reading. That is something that almost never happens!

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord - When picking up Just Don't Mention It, there was a 'buy one get one half price' sale going on so I decided, rather than adding to my overwhelming physical TBR, to pick up something I had already read but didn't own. I listened to the audiobook of this a few years ago and loved it so decided to add it to my, still unread, collection of all of Emery Lord's other books.

DIMILY Trilogy by Estelle Maskame - I read the entire DIMILY trilogy on ebook, but after falling in love with it I know I needed the books on my shelves. They just look so beautiful alongside Just Don't Mention It and I know I'll be picking them up to reread in the future.

Just Don't Mention It by Estelle Maskame - This was published very shortly after I finished the DIMILY trilogy so, despite having an eARC from Netgalley, I rushed out to pick up my own copy as soon as I could just to have it in my hands and display alongside the trilogy.

I'm so happy with all of the books I purchased in June, and even happier that they don't hinder my goal of reducing my number of unread owned books by the end of the year. 

What books did you pick up in June?

Sophie :)

Monday, 2 July 2018

Wrap Up | June 2018

We have somehow made it to July already and, while I don't know how this happened, I am pretty happy to be here. I am finally free from uni for a couple of months, which means I can get back on top of the blogging thing. Despite struggling to find time to blog over the past couple of months, I have still be reading a good amount. I read seven books in the month of June, taking my total for the year so far up to 40! We're half way through the year and I only have ten books to go to reach my Goodreads goal! Fingers crossed I can keep it up and finally surpass by 50 book goal. But first, let's chat about the books I read in June.

The Shift by Theresa Brown -
This is another medical/nursing non-fiction book. This book follows one nurse, the author, over the course of one twelve hour shift. It gives an interesting insight into a typical day of a nurse and highlights many things that most people don't realise are part of the role of a nurse. I found it particularly interesting to see the differences between nursing in the US, where this book is set, and nursing in the UK. I would recommend this for anyone who wants to know a bit more about what nurses do, it was a very quick, enjoyable read.
Rating: 3.5/5

Did I Mention I Need You? by Estelle Maskame -
This is book two in the Did I Mention I Love You? trilogy, the first book of which I read last year. I was desperate to pick up the next book as soon as I finished the first, but for some reason I never did. The second book continues to tell Tyler & Eden's story, only this time they're in New York. I absolutely loved this book, and I'm sure the New York setting had a lot to do with it. I thought this was a great sequel and I really enjoyed seeing both characters develop.
Rating: 4.5/5 | Review To Come

Royals by Rachel Hawkins -
I was so excited about this book until I realised that it was set in Scotland and most of the characters were Scottish. This book follows a girl whose sister becomes engaged to the Prince of Scotland (*eye roll*) and she has to spend the summer living with him and his family. I would have absolutely loved this book if there was no mention of Scotland. It was so much fun to read and I really loved the characters. Unfortunately, this book had so many Scottish stereotypes and just incorrect information that, being Scottish myself, frustrated me. 
Rating: 4/5 | Review To Come

Did I Mention I Miss You? by Estelle Maskame -
Rather than leave forever between books in series, as I usually do, I decided to pick up book three in the DIMILY trilogy. It was great to see how Tyler and Eden's story concluded and I loved seeing just how much they both had grown from the first book. However, I didn't love Tyler quite as much in this book. I'm a suck for a bad boy and he just wasn't that guy anymore. Despite that, I did really enjoy this book and this it was a great conclusion to the trilogy. I didn't love it as much as DIMINY, but I did love this setting almost as much as New York.
Rating: 4/5 | Review To Come

Save The Date by Morgan Matson -
As Morgan Matson is one of my favourite authors, this book was one of my most anticipated releases of the year. I picked this up as soon as it was in my possession, which is totally unlike me, and didn't want to put it down. This follow Charlie whose older sister is getting married, meaning her big crazy family will be back together again. However, not everything goes to plan and it is up to Charlie to save her sister's wedding. This was such a fun summer read and I loved it. It read like a movie and, as much as it was a little repetitive and predictable, it made me laugh out loud more than once. It also had a strong family focus, which I really enjoyed, and I loved reading about the siblings and their relationships with each other.
Rating: 4/5 | Review To Come

Just Don't Mention It by Estelle Maskame -
Conveniently, just as I finished the DIMILY trilogy, the 'spin off' novel, Just Don't Mention It, was published. This is Tyler's story and alternates between the Did I Mention I Love You timelines, and five years prior to that. Not only do we get to see the beginning of Tyler and Eden from another perspective, we also get to see Tyler's horrendous childhood and everything he went through. The two timelines were so different, one filled me with joy as I got to experience two of my favourite characters meeting for the first time again, while the other was so tough to read that it broke my heart. This was such a great addition to the series but it is definitely to a light, fluffy contemporary.
Rating: 4/5 | Review To Come

Floored by various authors -
Floored is a collaboration between seven of the best UKYA authors, following the lives of six strangers who meet in a lift one day and then, following the events in the lift, find themselves meeting on the same day every year. This was nothing at all like I was expecting. It was such a unique book, unlike anything I have read before, and so cleverly written. This is written by seven different authors, yet you couldn't tell at all as the writing flowed so well together. It felt like such a fast red, yet somehow covered so many important topics like sexuality, disability, social background and so much more. While I did really enjoy this book, I felt that the fact we only see these characters on that one day each year meant that we weren't really getting to see them develop, rather we were told how they had developed within the year.
Rating: 3.5/5 | Review To Come

Those were the 7 books I read in the month of June. I am really happy with my reading month, especially as my lowest rating for the whole month was 3.5/5 stars! I have high hopes for my July reading now.

What was the best book you read in the month of June?

Sophie :)

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Down The TBR Hole | Round 7

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 TinyPicThe Maze Runner by James Dashner

This is a book that I owned for years but recently unhauled. I started it twice but just couldn't get into it at all. I kept it on my Goodreads shelf as I don't want to completely rule out trying again with this series in the future. I own the first two movies so I may give the movies ago first and then, if I enjoy them, try the series again some day.

Judgement: Stay

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Confessions Of A Police Constable by Matt Delito

I have enjoyed other books in this 'Confessions Of...' memoir series and this one, following a London police constable, sounded quite interesting. I do think I would enjoy it this, but I don't think I'll ever get around to it with all of the many other books I want to read.

Judgement: Go

Image and video hosting by TinyPicConfessions Of An Undercover Cop by Ash Cameron

This is another book in the same series just mentioned. This one follows a female undercover cop. Again, I think this would be an interesting read and something I would enjoy, but I don't think I'll ever get around to it.

Judgement: Go

Image and video hosting by TinyPicRules Of Summer by Joanna Philbin

As seems to be the case in every one of these posts I do, we have another summery contemporary with a beach town setting. This one follows a girl who is working for a rich family over the summer, as well as the youngest child of this family who falls for a boy her parents would not approve of. It sounds fun and like my kind of book. However, there are some reviews on Goodreads, from people whose opinions I trust, that describe this book as underwhelming and just average. For that reason, I think I might give this one a miss for now.

Judgement: Go

Image and video hosting by TinyPicThe Book Of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler

This is one that I have very mixed feelings about. It is about a girl who been warned by her older sisters not to get involved with any of the boys in the Vargas family, but when one is hired to help her and her father restore his motorcycle, she starts to fall for him. On the one hand, all of my Goodreads friends that have read this book have given it 5 stars! However, the synopsis just doesn't intrigue me and I'm not sure I'm quite ready to read about a dying family member yet, which I think is a feature of this book.

Judgement: Go

Have I made a terrible mistake getting rid of so many of these books? Should I keep The Book Of Broken Hearts? All opinions are welcome in the comments - tell me what books I should be keeping!

Sophie :)

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Mini Review | Bookshop Girl by Chloe Coles

Image and video hosting by TinyPicBookshop Girl by Chloe Coles
Published On: June 14, 2018
Published By: Hot Key Books
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 224
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
Rating: ★★

Amazon | Goodreads

Bennett's Bookshop has always been a haven for sixteen-year-old Paige Turner. It's a place where she can escape from her sleepy hometown, hang out with her best friend, Holly, and also earn some money. 
But, like so many bookshops, Bennett's has become a 'casualty of the high street' - it's strapped for cash and going to be torn down. Paige is determined to save it but mobilising a small town like Greysworth is no mean feat. 
Time is ticking - but that's not the only problem Paige has. How is she going to fend off the attractions of beautiful fellow artist, Blaine? And, more importantly, will his anarchist ways make or break her bookshop campaign?

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

A quick, fun read.
This was a nice short, fast-paced read that I managed to fly through. The plot was fun and the characters are definitely relatable for younger readers. I definitely think this is aimed at younger YA readers, I think I would have loved this at 14/15, but it felt very young to me as a not quite so young adult, particularly in the language used.

It was all about the books.
I really enjoyed the bookshop storyline and the fact that the importance of books was discussed a lot. Any book lover will easily relate to the passion these characters have when they talk about books and what their bookshop means to them. However, I felt like the saving the bookshop storyline was somewhat overshadowed at times by a lot of unnecessary drama.

So many pet peeves in one book.
This book contained so many of my bookish pet peeves that there wasn't really much chance of me loving it. We had a best friend fallout over the most insignificant thing and added nothing to the story, probably my most hated thing in books, and a girl becoming obsessed with a boy she knows absolutely nothing about. These things, among others, I just couldn't get past.

It tried too hard to be feminist.
Now don't get me wrong, I am all for using an opportunity within a book to discuss important issues, like male privilege and treatment of women in society. However, going out of your way in the book to make crossing the road into one of these moments is a bit of a stretch. There were some really great moments within the book, such as one within an art class, where an opportunity arose within the story to talk about these things. For me, though, there were too many times where we were taken completely out of the story to do so, which made it feel less genuine.

The boy drama was too much for me.
Despite our main character talking a lot about women being more than just their bodies and the way they look, she becomes obsessed over a boy she has never actually spoken to because she likes the way he looks! She then claims to be in love with him after they've exchanged about four words and still no nothing about each other. I was over this 'relationship' before the real drama even kicked off.

It did have a good message.
The main idea of this book is about standing up for what you believe in and fighting for the things you want, which I think is a really great message to be portraying to young readers. It did a great job of showing that even a 16-year-old girl can try to make a difference and that you're never too young to put up a fight.

Overall, this book was not for me. I can see the appeal for younger readers and do think it is a book I would have enjoyed as a young teenager. However, their were just too many things that annoyed me and little issues that I couldn't see past in order to enjoy it as much now.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Mini Review | The Summer Of Us by Cecelia Vinesse

Image and video hosting by TinyPicThe Summer Of Us by Cecelia Vinesse
Published On: June 14, 2018
Published By: Hachette
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 320
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
Rating: ★★★

Amazon | Goodreads

Aubrey and Rae have been planning their European tour since the moment they met. It was meant to be the perfect way to spend their last summer together before university, but now it's not just the two of them . . . 
There's Jonah, Aubrey's seemingly perfect boyfriend, and Gabe, who Aubrey may have accidentally kissed. Then there's Clara, the friend Rae is crushing on, hard, even though there's no hope because Clara is into guys, not girls. And on top of all that Aubrey and Rae's friendship appears to be falling apart. Things are more complicated at eighteen than they were at ten. 

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

A fun summer read.
If you're looking for a nice fun, summery adventure, this is the book for you. It takes you on a trip around mainland Europe, visiting some of the most iconic landmarks in the most popular European cities and you do feel as though you are there witnessing these sights with the characters. I went on an adventure reading this book.

I enjoyed the characters.
All five of the characters in the friends group were decent characters. They were all well-developed and I enjoyed reading about them. The story is told in alternative points of view from both Aubrey and Rae, both of which I enjoyed equally. Though there was nothing particularly special about any of the characters, and none I felt especially drawn to, they were not bad characters by any means.

The drama was just too much.
I was under to illusion that this would simply be a fun trip around Europe with no drama or arguments. However, for me, there was just a bit too much drama. There was drama between almost every character all at the same time and it wasn't necessary. In fact, it made things kind of confusing, I couldn't keep up with what each of them were fighting about. It was as though the author felt the book needed more drama to keep it interesting, when actually the trip itself was interesting enough for me.

Fun adventure to drama backdrop.
Towards the second half of the book, this fun trip around Europe became more of a backdrop than the plot of the book. The drama and developing relationships completely overshadowed the trip. It got to the point where we, as readers, only really got to see the train journey to other places, rather than the places themselves. Important landmarks in great cities become nothing more than the place where relationships moved forward or characters argued. While this was still showing these great places and it still felt like I was on an adventure around Europe, it didn't seem as important to the story, which was disappointing.

I ended up getting bored.
The unnecessary drama combined with the lack of exploring amazing cities lead to me losing interest in the story completely for much of the second half of the book. I stopped liking some of the characters at times and just wanted it to be over. I was so disappointed as it had started off so well and I had been really enjoying it. However, I suppose it just wasn't for me in the end.

Overall, this book started out promising but went downhill. While I enjoyed the travelling aspect, this became overshadowed by the friendship and relationship drama. I appreciate the need for some drama to keep the book entertaining, it was too much for me and really took away from the fun of the book. I guess this book just wasn't what I was hoping for and was not the book for me; however, I did enjoy parts of it.