Saturday, 21 February 2015

Review | Summer Unplugged by Amy Sparling

Image and video hosting by TinyPicSummer Unplugged by Amy Sparling
Series: Summer Unplugged #1
Published By: 336Love
Published On: December 18, 2013
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 128
Format: eBook
Source: Free From Amazon
Rating: ★★★

Amazon | Goodreads

Bayleigh is addicted to her cell phone and her mom has had enough. After catching her sending a less than lady-like photo to a boy who barely knows her, Bayleigh's mom sends her away to her grandparent's house for the summer--sans cell phone, laptop and Ipod. Bayleigh thinks the summer will be torture without social media...that is until she meets the boy next door.

After her mother catches her sending a picture, and not the kind you want your mother to see, to a boy, Bayleigh’s difficult behaviour is finally too much for her mother. As punishment, Bayleigh is sent to stay with her grandparents for the summer, in the middle of nowhere, without any of her beloved technology.

This book definitely exceeded by expectations. I found this book for free on the Kindle store so I really was not expecting much from it. It seemed to me like it was going to be the typical, overdone story of the girl who gets sent away as punishments and she meets a boy so it isn’t all bad. Technically, that is exactly what it was, but it was done in a much more enjoyable way than I had anticipated.

I liked Bayleigh and Jace, both as a couple and as individual characters. Bayleigh is your average teenage girl, struggling with her feelings for a boy who’s a bit of an idiot, and so is a very relatable character. Jace is a bit of a mystery, but who doesn’t love an attractive mystery man? Together, they make quite a good couple, even if there was a hint of instalove.

The one thing I didn’t like about Bayleigh was her depression over being separate from technology. I know I wouldn’t be thrilled about being away from all of my technology but she was constantly complaining about it. It really started to annoy me, to the point where I was close to shouting at my kindle. Surely she could have found something else to do instead of complain about how bored she was without her phone.

I really did not like the situation with Ian. Though it may be relatable for many young girls, it showed Bayleigh to be very naïve and easily controlled by the boy who was treating her badly. I know this may be a common real life scenario but I really hate when this type of behaviour is portrayed as typical from young girls and in this book it is seen to be the norm, and somewhat acceptable in the beginning.

While I love a bit of a mystery man, I would have liked a bit more information on Jace. I know this was only a short story and is the first in a series but it would have been good to know a bit more about Jace before the last few chapters. This not knowing about his background made it more difficult to connect with his character.

Overall, I enjoyed this book but it is not something I would read again or recommend to friends. I may continue on with the series to see if it improves but with each book being around the 100 page mark, I don’t hold much hope.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Review | Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Image and video hosting by TinyPicDark Places by Gillian Flynn
Published By: Phoenix
Published On: June 10, 2010
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 424
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★★★½

Amazon | Goodreads

Libby Day was just seven years old when her evidence put her fifteen-year-old brother behind bars. 
Since then, she has been drifting. But when she is contacted by a group who are convinced of Ben's innocence, Libby starts to ask questions she never dared to before. Was the voice she heard her brother's? Ben was a misfit in their small town, but was he capable of murder? Are there secrets to uncover at the family farm or is Libby deluding herself because she wants her brother back? 
She begins to realise that everyone in her family had something to hide that day... especially Ben. Now, twenty-four years later, the truth is going to be even harder to find. 
Who did massacre the Day family?

When Libby Day’s family was murdered, the seven year old testified against her brother, putting him behind bars. Twenty-four years later, Libby is contacted by a group who believe her brother to be innocent and she begins to doubt her memories of that night. With so many unanswered questions, Libby is determined to finally uncover the truth about the Day Massacre.

This book, as is to be expected from Flynn’s work, is insanely messed up. This was the first point I made in my review of Gone Girl so I was expecting this book to be a very strange read but I wasn’t expecting this. Flynn really says it all in the acknowledgements for this book when she says, when thanking her husband, “What do I say to a man who knows how I think and still sleeps next to me with the lights off?”

I can’t say I liked these characters, as they are very difficult to like, but they were fantastic, intriguing characters. Our main character, Libby, is one of the strangest and most difficult to like characters I have ever read, rivalling Gone Girl’s Amy Dunne, but she was so interesting. I must admit, Flynn is incredible at writing characters.

I spent the majority of the book not knowing what to feel. I had such mixed emotions while reading this that I was so confused about how I felt about characters or plot twists. This book seriously screwed with my head, in the best way possible.

One thing that contributed to the screwing of my head was the intriguing mystery. While reading, as you do with this kind of book, I was developing my own theories about what happened and those theories were forever changing. The mystery element to this book was not at all predictable and I never once felt as though I had it all worked out, it was a continuous guessing game.

The multiple points of view and the jump between past and present were very well written. I am not usually a fan of jumping between people and times throughout the story but I really enjoyed the way Flynn did this. The jumping about of the story really emphasised how messed up this plot and the characters were. It didn’t feel in any way disjointed but more like everything was slightly jumbled, which complemented the story perfectly.

Unlike with Gone Girl, I really liked this ending. I know it has had some criticism but I thought it was a great final twist. I was not expecting it to end the way it did and could never have guessed that outcome.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I went into it looking for Flynn to redeem herself after not loving Gone Girl, which I can’t help but compare it to, and she definitely did. So why didn’t I give it 5 stars? For me, there was a little too much animal killing and I can’t condone that. However, Flynn has most definitely become an auto buy author for me. Having both loved and not really loved her books, I will always be intrigued to see what she can come up with next.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Review | The Beach House by Jane Green

Image and video hosting by TinyPicThe Beach House by Jane Green
Published By: Penguin
Published On: August 1, 2009
Genre: Chick Lit
Pages: 441
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★★

Amazon | Goodreads

Nan Powell is a free-spirited, sixty-five-year-old widow who's not above skinny-dipping in her neighbors' pools when they're away and who dearly loves her Nantucket home. But when she discovers that the money she thought would last forever is dwindling, she realizes she must make drastic changes to save her beloved house. So Nan takes out an ad: Rooms to rent for the summer in a beautiful old Nantucket home with water views and direct access to the beach. 
 Slowly people start moving in to the house, filling it with noise, laughter, and with tears. As the house comes alive again, Nan finds her family and friends expanding. Her son comes home for the summer, and then an unexpected visitor turns all their lives upside down.

With plenty of changes and misfortunes in the lives of a group of strangers, they each decide to escape their day-to-day lives for a summer on the island of Nantucket where infamous resident Nan is renting her home as a house share. When the group are thrown together in Nan’s home, friendships form and the group must help each other through the trials in their lives.

For me, this was just an okay read. I found it to be a fun read but nothing particularly special. It is the kind of book I wouldn’t mind reading while laying on a beach or by the pool during the summer while not wanting to do too much thinking. However, it is not something I would go out of my way to read.

One of my main issues with this book was the very slow first half. From the synopsis I had understood that this book was about a group of people who had gone to the island of Nantucket for the summer. Half way through the book, not one person had made it to the island, except Nan who lived there. I felt like far too much time was spent introducing the characters and their stories, which made for a very slow read.

Despite the amount of time taken to introduce the characters, I didn’t connect with any of them. The characters were likable and fun to read about but there were just too many to properly connect with. I found myself getting confused between the people and their stories and connecting the wrong couples as they all blended together.

Just as the first half of the book was very slow, the last half went way too fast. So much time was taken up by introducing the characters that everything that happened when they reached the island felt very rushed. Relationships were formed within days of the characters meeting and the instalove aspect made it seem like a badly written YA book.

It may have something to do with the rushed second half of the book but the big plot twists felt very forced. I was reading the book, getting annoyed at the romance but a little bored and then suddenly a not very realistic huge plot twist was forced onto me. It was as though Green was trying too hard to shock the reader but the result was more confusion.

Overall, I like this book and found it an enjoyable read but I was not impressed by the writing or the character development. It is the kind of book I would not mind reading on a summers day while trying not to make my brain work too hard but it is definitely not the best chick lit I have read.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Review | Easily Amused by Karen McQuestion

Image and video hosting by TinyPicEasily Amused by Karen McQuestion
Published By: Mariner Books
Published On: August 23, 2011
Genre: Chick Lit
Pages: 300
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★★

Amazon | Goodreads

Twenty-nine year-old Lola Watson has two best friends, a dream job editing a parenting magazine, and a charming old house inherited from a great-aunt she barely knew. Life would be perfect if only she could avoid her intrusive neighbors. And for that matter, she also wouldn't mind being happily married like her friend Piper, or even engaged like her younger sister Mindy. 
Lola's peaceful existence is shattered when high school buddy Hubert moves in with her after a break-up, her sister changes her wedding date to Lola's thirtieth birthday, and the nosy neighbors take Hubert under their wing. Life gets more complicated when Piper sets Lola up with a good-looking stranger who turns out to be the talk of her neighborhood--the mystery man from across the street.

Lola is 29 years old and seems to have it all, even the nosey neighbours that appear to come with the house she inherited from her great aunt, but the one thing she doesn’t have is a husband, a fact that her younger sister Mindy loves to remind her of. When her high school best friend Hubert moves in, Mindy moves her wedding to the day of Lola’s 30th birthday, and best friend Piper sets her up with the mystery man across the street, life begins to get complicated.

I had very low expectations for this book but found it to be much better than I expected. I was not having much success with adult chick lit when I picked this up and thought it would let me down just as the others had but I was pleasantly surprised when it didn’t completely suck.

It may not be the best chick lit book out there but it was a predictable but fun read. Nothing that happened in this book came as much of a surprise to me as it seemed to follow the general chick lit structure but it did not affect my enjoyment of the book. I find when books are fun, the predictable becomes less of an issue and this was a fun read for me.

I have seen quite a few reviews for the book in which people hate the main character but I really liked Lola. I thought she was a good, reasonably likeable main character (although it would seem she isn’t likeable to everyone) who added to the fun of the story. She may have her quirks and was not always the nicest to the people around her but I thought she was a good character. In fact, I liked almost all of the characters.

One character I did not like was Mindy, although I’m certain that was the aim. Mindy is a very selfish, unlikeable character and she was written perfectly. She was written so well that I felt genuine anger whenever her character was around.

Possibly my favourite thing about this book is the neighbourhood aspect. I loved the nosey neighbours and their role in the story. Despite the fact that Lola finds them annoying, I found it very endearing to read about a group of people who care so much about their neighbours that they try so hard to take her under their wing.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It is your typical adult chick lit but it is a fun read that does not require a whole lot of brainwork. It is an easy read but one that is fun and enjoyable, even if slightly predictable.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Mini Reviews | Books Of 2014 Part 2

I decided to to some mini reviews of the books I read in 2014 that I didn't want to do a full review of for whatever reason. I have a Part 1 here in which I did mini reviews for The Fault In Our Stars by John Green, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling, Our Story by Union J and the Katie Parker Productions Series by Jenny B Jones.

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Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging (#1), It's Ok, I'm Wearing Really Big Knickers (#2), Knocked Out By My Nunga-Nungas (#3) and Dancing In My Nuddy-Pants (#4) by Louise Rennison
Series: Confessions Of Georgia Nicholson series
Published By: Harper Collins
Published On: May 31, 2000 (#1)
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 247 (#1)
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought

What I Liked: These books are such fun, easy reads. The characters, especially the main character Georgia, are all a little bit mad which makes for some interesting reading. While these are aimed at younger teens, reading as an 20 year old is nostalgic in way as I often find myself relating to these characters and remembering, though not fondly, my similar antics at that age.
What I Disliked: Like I mentioned, these books are aimed at younger readers than myself so I often find some parts to be a little immature. Though this doesn't affect my overall enjoyment of the books too much, it can be a little annoying sometimes.
Rating: ★★★

Image and video hosting by TinyPicInsurgent by Veronica Roth
Series: Divergent #2
Published By: Harper Collins
Published On: May 1, 2012
Genre: Dystopian
Pages: 525
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Amazon | Goodreads

What I Liked: The best part about a second book in a series, for me anyway, is returning to characters you have made a connection with but still have more of a connection to make. I enjoyed returning to these characters and the society, and of course, Four.
What I Disliked: I hate to say this but I found this book to be a little boring. After so much happened in the first book I was disappointed that Insurgent seemed to go round in circles with not a lot of new excitement. I also didn't enjoy the Tris and Four relationship as much as I had in Divergent.
Rating: ★★★★ (honestly, that is pretty generous!)

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Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops by Jen Campbell
Published By: Constable
Published On: March 27, 2012
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 128
Format: eBook
Source: Bought

What I Liked: This is a really quick read and perfect for the times where you just want something really light. The stories are funny and often have you questioning the intelligence of society, so it is overall very enjoyable.
What I Disliked: I was expecting the stories to be funnier than they were due to the hype and ended up left a little disappointed. There were some hilarious stories but others were not that great and some I didn't even understand.
Rating: ★★★

Image and video hosting by TinyPicPlease, Nurse! by Joan Lock
Published By: Orion
Published On: November 4, 2013
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 145
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Amazon | Goodreads

What I Liked: As I am hoping to go into the nursing/midwifery field, I like reading about the training process, both currently and historically. I find this type of book very interesting.
What I Disliked: I found this book very confusing. The tales of her training were all very scattered and it was as though a different story began in the middle of whatever story was already being told. Everything was very scattered and it seemed to be more of a complaint about every aspect of the training and while I understand it may not have been enjoyable, there is no need to write a book complaining about it!
Rating: ★★ 3/4

Those are the last of my mini reviews of books I read in 2014. Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

Sophie :)

Friday, 13 February 2015

TBR | February 2015

Since we are currently about half way through February this TBR is a little late. However, with the next two weeks being a holiday for me, its the perfect time to get in a good bit of reading in and these are the books I aim to get read in my break from university.

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As part of my 2015 resolutions I have been trying to read at least one eBook a month so for the month of February I pulled Lost & Found by Nicole Williams from my TBR jar. I picked this up for free from the Kindle store back in the summer so I don't know a whole lot about it. I believe it is a New Adult book about a girl who is sent to live in the middle of nowhere for the summer and, of course, meets a boy.

I have mentioned many times that I am aiming to read one book of the Confessions of Georgia Nicholson series each month so for the month of February I am hoping to get to book 6 of the series. These are always such quick reads so I should be able to get to this one.

I had planned to read at least the first three books in the Harry Potter series back in the summer but only managed to get around to reading the first book. This is one series that I am a little embarrassed not to have read yet so I really want to get to this during this month.

One of my favourite books I read in January was The Selection so of course I want to read the second book in the series, The Elite, in the month of February. I really love the premise of this story and, unlike many others whose reviews I have read, I really like the characters. I can't wait to dive back into this world this month.

As soon as I finished Allegiant in January I was desperate to read Four but since I had other books I wanted to read I put it off. So, when I pulled this out of my TBR jar for this month I was so excited to finally get to it. I have already read one of the novellas in this collection but I am looking forward to getting to know more about Four and reading more from his point of view.

These are the books I am hoping to get to this month. I also have the audiobook of Amy & Rodger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson that I will hopefully get around to starting at some point but that may be slightly too ambitious, especially as February is a shorter month.

What are you planning to read during February? Have you read any of the books in my TBR?

Sophie :)

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Haul | January 2015

I was trying to cut down on my book buying in 2015 and read the books that I already own but since I was in New York I couldn't resists visiting a few bookstores. While I didn't resists completely, I did manage to control myself a lot, which I am glad of considering I had to carry all of the books I bought in my hand luggage on the way home.

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I Was Here by Gayle Forman - Having read, and enjoyed, If I Stay by Gayle Forman, when I heard about her newest book, I Was Here, I decided to check it out on Goodreads. I enjoy reading darker books so when I read that it was about suicide I was pretty intrigued and picked it up when I found it for under £4 in Tesco.

Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott - I have heard so many great things about this book around the blogging and youtube world. The synopsis sounds very much like The Hunger Games, which many people have complained about, but I have also heard it describes at The Hunger Games meets Pokemon and how amazing does that sounds?! Having heard such good things, when I saw it in Barnes & Noble while in New York I picked it up.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell - This is another book that I picked up in Barnes & Noble while in New York. I have been wanting to read this for a while but I am not a fan of the UK cover so when I found out I was going to New York this went straight onto my shopping list.

Lux: Beginnings by Jennifer L Armentrout - We paid a visit to The Strand Bookstore while in New York, which I didn't love to be honest, and I found a couple of books I have been wanting for a while. The Lux series is one I have been wanting to start for ages so when I saw the bind up of the first two books, Obsidian and Onyx.

The Program by Suzanne Young - Suicide appears to be a theme for this haul as this is about suicide as an epidemic. I have heard some great things about it so when I saw it in The Strand I decided to pick it up. It is a much thicker book than I had initially thought, and it is the first book in a duology which I am excited to get around to.

Can't Let You Go by Jenny B Jones - I read the first three books in the Katie Parker Productions series by Jenny B Jones back in July of 2014 and when the fourth book was released later in 2014, I didn't even know about it. After writing my mini review of the series (here), I came across the fourth book, Can't Let You Go, on Goodreads and instantly bought it on my kindle.

Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts?

Sophie :)

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Wrap Up | January 2015

It seems so crazy to be doing my first wrap up of 2015 already but it's somehow February already! January was a pretty good reading month for me as I read a total of 6 books, which I know is not a lot for some but it is good for me, and most of them were really good reads.

My Life In January...
- I kick started the year with a great New Years' Day spent with my family.
- I got to spend a couple of days with one of my closest friends who lives about two hours away.
- I started rewatching Gossip Girl, which is possibly my favourite TV show of all time.
- I started back at uni and it still sucks just as much as it did before Christmas.
- I WENT TO NEW YORK! I have wanted to visit New York for years and I finally went in January!

Watched In January...
(I have decided to introduce a 'watched in' section as I am a huge movie and TV junkie)
- How To Get Away With Murder Season 1 (Part 1) - 5/5
- Angus, Thongs & Perfect Snogging (rewatch) - 4/5
- Nurse Jackie Season 1 - 3/5
- Mamma Mia! (rewatch) - 4.5/5
- Geordie Shore Season 8 & 9 - 5/5
- If I Stay - 5/5
- Men, Women & Children - 4.5/5
- Dolphin Tale 2 - 4/5

Read In January...

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This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales -
I pulled this book out of my TBR jar way back in November and finally got around to reading it in January and I am glad that I did. I really enjoyed this book. I loved the setting and the characters and while the story has been done to death, I really enjoyed this unique take on it. I have a full review on this book which you can take a look at here. 4/5

Allegiant by Veronica Roth -
After my disappointment with Insurgent, I put off finishing the Divergent series. This was partly because I had heard negative views about it and worried that it would be like Insurgent, and partly because I didn't want the series to end. However, I am so glad I finally decided to pick this up as I absolutely loved it. I think it was the perfect ending to the series, even though it completely destroyed my emotions. 5/5

And That's When It Fell Off In My Hand by Louise Rennison -
This is the fifth book in the Confessions of Georgia Nicholson series, of which I have been reading one each month. Like I have said several times before, these are super fast, enjoyable reads and the only issue I have with these is the fact that they are a little immature. Obviously, as these books are aimed at a younger audience, being a 20 year old I find it a little difficult to relate a lot of the time. 3/5

The Selection by Kiera Cass -
After getting The Selection box set for Christmas, I couldn't wait to get started with the series. I was a little unsure as I had heard some mixed things about the series but I really enjoyed the first book. I loved the premise of the book, I loved the characters and I enjoyed reading about the society. I can't wait to get to the rest of the series. 5/5

That Summer by Sarah Dessen -
I decided to give audiobooks a try in 2015 and the first one I listened to was Sarah Dessen's first book, That Summer. While I loved the audiobook experience, this was just an OK book. I have heard such amazing things about Sarah Dessen's novels, however I feel that it is quite obvious that this is her first novel. 3/5

Ignite by Lily Paradis -
I have wanted to read this since I first heard about it so as soon as I had the chance to pick it up, I devoured it. I really enjoyed this book, reading it in just one sitting. The characters were my favourite thing about this book by far and I loved the family aspect. I cannot wait to the sequel, Arclight, as soon as it is published. 4/5

What have you been reading in January?

Sophie :)