Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Review | I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre

Image and video hosting by TinyPicI Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre
Series: 2B Trilogy #1
Published By: Harlequin
Published On: August 26, 2014
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★★★

Amazon | Goodreads

Nadia Conrad has big dreams, and she's determined to make them come true—for her parents' sake as well as her own. But between maintaining her college scholarship and working at the local day care to support herself, she barely has time to think, let alone date. Then she moves into a new apartment and meets the taciturn yet irresistible guy in 1B…. 
Daniel Tyler has grown up too fast. Becoming a single dad at twenty turned his life upside down—and brought him heartache he can't risk again. Now, as he raises his four-year-old son while balancing a full-time construction management job and night classes, a social life is out of the question. The last thing he wants is for four noisy students to move into the apartment upstairs. But one night, Nadia's and Ty's paths cross, and soon they can't stay away from each other. 
The timing is all wrong—but love happens when it happens. And you can't know what you truly need until you stand to lose it.

I picked this book up on a total whim; the cover looked pretty, the title reminded me of the Backstreet Boys song, and it was really cheap on kindle. I wasn't expecting much from it but it completely exceeded my expectations. I had not read much NA before this so I had anticipated your average 'boy meets girl' kind of story with the predictable storyline, but this was different. Though the story takes a lot of the turns you expect it to, there is nothing particularly 'typical' about this book in my opinion.

When the main character in in college, you have preconceived ideas of how her college life will be portrayed and what that aspect of her life will involve. However, I really loved the different way that college was portrayed in this book. You didn't have the constant partying, getting drunk and having sex with random guys that you often find with popular culture's idea of college life; although there were a few parties, a girl has to have some fun. Nadia's college life was also nothing like my university experience (which was awful, FYI), but it was great to read about. I loved the focus on her friendship group but also her dedication to her studies and the emphasis on how important her classes and schoolwork were.

Speaking of her dedication to her studies, I loved that Nadia had such great ambitions and would do anything to reach her career goals. It was great to read about someone who knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life and wouldn't let anything get in the way of that. I loved the daycare and school parts of the book as I really enjoyed reading about Nadia's interactions with the children.

Children seem to be a great addition to NA books for me. One of my favourite NA books, Ignite by Lily Paradis, involves children and Ty having a child was one of the things I loved most about this story. Sam was such a great addition to the story and brought a whole new element to Nadia & Ty's relationship. Not only was he funny and adorable, he brought out a different side of Ty that gave him more dimension as a character. I also thought it was great to have a young single father, as it is a lot more common to have young single mother characters, it was nice to have something different.

As well as my obvious love for Sam, I really loved all the characters. I found them all to be very enjoyable to read about, not just Nadia and Ty as the main characters, but also Nadia's friends. I absolutely adored Max, he is probably my favourite character of the book, so it was great to fall in love with a whole cast of well written characters. Knowing that the second book in the series is Max's story makes me all the more excited for it.

Despite their being very strong friendship and family aspects to the story, the relationship is obviously the main focus. This relationship was a strange one for me because you wouldn't think these characters would work together but somehow they just do. You could almost feel the sexual tension between them coming out of the pages (nice work, Ann Aguirre!). The relationship was just so well written that there was no doubt in my mind these two were meant to somehow be together and that is what kept me reading.

Overall, this was a surprisingly great read. It was not only a great romance but the friendship and family elements to the story were perfectly additions that were done so well. I couldn't put this down, I was so invested in these characters and their stories. It was a great book to get me started in the NA genre as I am still trying to find me feet in there. I would highly recommend this to any fans of NA!

Friday, 24 June 2016

Review | The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

Image and video hosting by TinyPicThe Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins
Published By: Random House
Published On: January 15, 2015
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Pages: 319
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★★★

Amazon | Goodreads

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. 
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

This book was a bit of a struggle for me to begin with, it took me a bit of time to get into. I can't 100% blame that on the book itself as I was very slumpy when I first picked this up. However, it did take a bit of time to really get into the story which I found a little bit boring if I'm being honest.

Despite the slow start, as soon as it got into the action and mystery I was completely hooked. The mystery aspect was so well written that I just couldn't put it down. I was so thrilling and intense that I just had to know what was going to happen. I was definitely very impressed with the writing.

Again in reference to the writing, the plot twists were great. I can't say they were all huge surprises, I did have my suspicions as you always do, but there was definitely a lot that I didn't see coming. It was written so well that there was a lot of arousing suspicion but not too much given away. I was constantly kept on my toes and definitely on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen.

One of the greatest things about this book was the characters. Rachel was a fantastic main character. She was so unreliable, and we all love a good unreliable narrator, which really added to the mystery of the story. You never knew what to believe or what areas of her story were true, which I enjoyed. On top of this, despite her many faults, I really enjoyed Rachel's character in itself. I really didn't expect to like her but she definitely quickly grew on me and became quite a likeable character.

My biggest worry about this book was the ending. I always seem to be disappointed with the endings in this type of novel and was almost setting myself up to be disappointed. However, that was not the case and I was very satisfied by this ending. The ending was so thrilling and not at all what I expected so it definitely kept me on the edge of my seat, and I was not at all disappointed.

Overall, this was one of the better mystery/thriller novels I have read recently. It was extremely well written and very thrilling. It kept me on the edge of my seat throughout and, other than the slightly slow start, there was not a dull moment. I would highly recommend this book, and already have to various people.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Wrap Up & Haul | May 2016

Well May just flew by! I cannot believe we are already in June and almost half way through the year. I start my next university course in just three months, and even the thought of that terrifies me. But on a more cheery note, I FINALLY had a good reading month! I managed to read 7 whole books in May, which is by far the most I have read in a month this year. I'm glad to finally be back to normal with my reading and I hope this will continue, at least through the summer.

My Life In May...
- I spent a few days at the beginning of the month away at a lodge in the country with my family.
- I official took part in my first readathon - Bout Of Books 16.
- I finally made a start on one of my New Years resolutions by joining a gym.
- I got to spend a bit of time with family I don't often see, including my little nephew.
- I had the joy of seeing the musical Joseph while on it's UK tour, and meeting the lovely cast.
- Some friends and I went to a charity fundraising lunch which was a lot of fun.
- I also got the chance to see the musical of Mary Poppins while it is on it's UK tour.
- I got to see The Tide at one of their 'FanFests' and got to meet the boys, which was great.
- We spent the last week of the month away for another break as a family.

Watched In May...
- Geordie Shore Season 12 - 4/5
- The Lady In The Van - 1/5
- The Descendants (rewatch) - 4/5
- The Last Song (rewatch) - 3.5/5
- Chicago Fire Season 1 - 5/5
- Chicago Fire Season 2 - 5/5

Read In May...

 photo May01_zpsijv9a6jc.jpg

Happily Ever After by Kiera Cass - 
With the fifth and final instalment in The Selection series being released in May, it seemed only appropriate to dive back into this world through these novellas. I had already read three of the four novellas, but I did end up liking the ones I had read more the second time around. I also really enjoyed the additional scenes and the other extras. I thought it was a great addition to the series. 4.5/5

Forever by Judy Blume - 
I picked this book as my first for the Bout Of Books readathon because its so short, so I assumed it would be a quick read. I did manage to power through it in one day but boy was it a struggle. This book was published in 1975 and you can definitely tell. I did get over the older writing style but I just didn't enjoy the book in general and I had some big problems with certain aspects. 2/5

City Of Bones by Cassandra Clare - 
This FINALLY happened! I have been saying for probably well over a year that I am going to start this series but I always pushed it aside, mainly due to the hype surrounding it. Now that I have finally read City Of Bones, I'm glad I did. I really enjoyed the world, the characters and the story. I thought it was a great start to the series and I particularly liked how the world was developed without constant info-dumps. I can't wait to continue with the series. 4/5

The Crown by Kiera Cass - 
So The Selection series has now come to an end. It was such a bittersweet moment opening this book, I was so excited to see what happened but at the same time I really didn't want it to end. While I loved the first three books, I wasn't blown away by The Heir, due to the main character Eadlyn, and I did have this issue somewhat in The Crown. Though Eadlyn did redeem herself greatly in the final book, I still didn't love her as I had America, which meant I wasn't in love with the book to the same extent. I also didn't love where the story went but I did enjoy the book as a conclusion to the series. 4/5

Flawed by Cecelia Ahern - 
Cecelia Ahern has done it again! This woman can honestly do no wrong in my eyes. Flawed is my first 5 star book of the year, not including rereads, and it is totally deserved. I was nervous about Cecelia Ahern branching out into YA but she can absolutely write YA just as well as she can adult. I loved this story, the world, the characters, everything was just done so well. It was written really well and you could tell how much passion the words were written with. I absolutely loved this book and can't wait for the sequel. 5/5

I Want It That Way by Ann Aguire -
This was a totally on a whim purchase that I pretty much forgot I owned until I pulled it out of my TBR jar. I wasn't expecting much from it but I was very pleasantly surprised, I actually really enjoyed it! I loved the story, the characters and the fact it was a more unique take on the usual NA. I definitely plan to continue this series! 4/5

The New Girl by Tracie Puckett - 
I got this as a random free ebook a little while ago and decided to pick it up for the readathon because it's so short. I have pretty mixed feelings about this. I did like it for the most part, it was a fun quick read. However, this involved a student-teacher relationship and I just don't like that at all. I felt very uncomfortable reading about the relationship because of that. So I think if it didn't include that aspect I would have enjoyed it but, unfortunately, I didn't. 2/5

Bought In May...

 photo May01_zpsnkpx8gbr.jpg

The Crown by Kiera Cass -
Obviously as I talked about this book already it is no secret that I picked up the final book in The Selection series as soon as it was released. I think I've said enough about this one already.

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson -
This was another one I picked up as soon as I could. I read two of Morgan Matson's books last summer and really enjoyed them both so I decided to try out her newest release as well. The main character in this book is a dog walker and the daughter of a politician who's life is changed by a scandal involving her family. It sounds really interesting and I hope to get to it this summer.

Blogged In May...
- I reviewed Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling.
- I shared my haul from the month of April.
- I wrapped up the month of April.
- I shared my TBR for the month of May.
- I reviewed The DUFF by Kody Keplinger.
- I announced my participation in the Bout Of Books 16 readathon.
- I shared my readathon goals and TBR.
- I took part in the readathon's Day 3 challenge.
- I shared my updates throughout the readathon.

Did you read or get your hands on any great books in May?

Sophie :)

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Review | Hello, Goodbye And Everything In Between by Jennifer E Smith

Image and video hosting by TinyPicHello, Goodbye And Everything In Between by Jennifer E Smith
Published By: Headline
Published On: Sepetmeber 1, 2015
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 248
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★★★

Amazon | Goodreads

On the night before they leave for college, Clare and Aidan have only one thing left to do: figure out whether they should stay together or break up. Over the course of twelve hours, they retrace the steps of their relationship, trying to find something in their past that might help them decide what their future should be. The night leads them to family and friends, familiar landmarks and unexpected places, hard truths and surprising revelations. But as the clock winds down and morning approaches, so does their inevitable goodbye. The question is, will it be goodbye for now or goodbye forever?

First things first, THIS COVER! How beautiful is this cover? I think I am genuinely in love. Based on cover alone I would give this 5 stars! But onto the other important stuff...

I have been so hit or miss with Jennifer E Smith previously so I had no idea what to expect from this, I was more just giving her another chance to wow me like she did the first time. I will say I definitely didn't love this as much as I loved The Statistical Probability Of Love At First Sight. However, it was an improvement on The Geography Of You And Me, which I didn't hate but it didn't blow me away. I did really like this one.

I have seen a fair bit of negativity surrounding this and I can understand why people didn't like the premise. However, for me this was so relatable. A lot of reviews I have read complained that this situation was unrealistic and that even considering breaking up for going away to college was stupid. I can tell you this kind of thing does genuinely happen. I went through a very similar situation before I started university and I completely regret the decision we made, so I fully supported these characters in taking the time to decide on what was best for them in the situation.

There was one thing that really sold this book for me - I LOVE books set in one day/night. This was the same thing that attracted me to The Statistical Probability and it was my favourite thing about this book. I don't know what it is, I just love them! They can sometimes drag or have parts that seem unnecessary but this was very well done.

I really liked Clare & Aidan's relationship. It seemed very genuine and natural with none of the usual annoying cliches or instalove. The fact that this book dealt with an already serious, long-lasting relationship was interesting and I enjoyed getting glimpses into their past as a couple while they navigated the present. I really felt their connection and enjoyed reading about them.

I thought this book was very unique in that it dealt with a relationship ending rather than beginning. It is most common to read stories of discovering a first love or blossoming romance but much less common to read stories of relationships ending. I thought this was a very interesting twist to the norm and it was done very well.

This book was full of raw emotion. There were times where I related so strongly to what was happening or felt such a strong connection to the characters that I felt as though these things were happening to me. Particularly when the characters were all saying their goodbyes before leaving for college, I felt as though I was saying goodbye myself.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Though some parts were a little predictable, I thought it was very well written and enjoyable. I loved the characters and their story, particularly the one night setting and the relatability of the story.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Mini Review | Sea Of Monsters by Rick Riordan

Image and video hosting by TinyPicSea Of Monsters by Rick Riordan
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians #2
Published By: Puffin
Published On: April 1, 2006
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 265
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★★

Amazon | Goodreads

The heroic son of Poseidon makes an action-packed comeback in the second must-read installment of Rick Riordan's amazing young readers series. Starring Percy Jackson, a "half blood" whose mother is human and whose father is the God of the Sea, Riordan's series combines cliffhanger adventure and Greek mythology lessons that results in true page-turners that get better with each installment. In this episode, The Sea of Monsters, Percy sets out to retrieve the Golden Fleece before his summer camp is destroyed, surpassing the first book's drama and setting the stage for more thrills to come.

Wasn't as good as book one.
I enjoyed this instalment in the series but I didn't think it was a good as the first. I can't put my finger on why but it just didn't have me turning the pages as quickly, needing to know more.

Greek mythology is my favourite thing.
I still really loved the Greek mythology aspect of this series. I love Greek mythology, as I have mentioned before, and I think this is a great way to learn more about it in a more fun way. It also adds more excitement to the story.

I still love the characters.
I fell in love with the characters in book one and that did not change in book two. I also really enjoyed the new characters that were introduced, particularly Tyson.

There is never a dull moment.
These books are so action packed. There is never a chapter without some kind of monster or whatever other force Percy and the gang have to defeat. The constant action and adventure make this a very fast-paced read, full of fun and hilarious antics.

Overall, it was a good continuation to the series, but not quite as good as the first book. I'm excited to carry on with the series and see what is in store for Percy and his friends.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Review | Confessions Of A Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

Image and video hosting by TinyPicConfessions Of A Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
Series: Shopaholic #1
Published By: Black Swan
Published On: March 1, 1999
Genre: Chick Lit
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★

Amazon | Goodreads

Becky Bloomwood has what most twenty-five-year-olds only dream of: a flat in London's trendiest neighborhood, a troupe of glamorous socialite friends, and a closet brimming with the season's must-haves. The only trouble is, she can't actually afford it --- not any of it. Her job writing at Successful Saving magazine not only bores her to tears, it doesn't pay much at all. Still, how can she resist that perfect pair of shoes? Or the divine silk blouse in the window of that ultra-trendy boutique? But lately Becky's been chased by dismal letters from Visa and the Endwich Bank --- letters with large red sums she can't bear to read --- and they're getting ever harder to ignore. She tries cutting back; she even tries making more money. But none of her efforts succeeds. Her only consolation is to buy herself something ... just a little something ... 
Finally, a story arises that Becky actually cares about, and her front-page article catalyzes a chain of events that will transform her life --- and the lives of those around her --- forever.

This book, and the rest of the series, are so well loved that I was absolutely sure I would love it too. Unfortunately, this was a huge disappointment for me! I really hate to say it but I absolutely hated it, which I can't understand considering the huge popularity of the series. Everyone has different opinions I guess.

The one thing I did like was Sophie Kinsella's writing style. I really enjoyed her humour especially and often throughout the book it was the one thing that made for a more bearable read. I have definitely not been put off reading her other books, just this particular series is not for me.

So why is this series not for me? I HATED the main character. I don't use the word hate lightly but I honestly couldn't stand Becky Bloomwood. I found her to be extremely materialistic, immature are just plain stupid. She made incredibly stupid decisions and spent her time lying to everyone about any little thing. Seriously, half of her problems could have been solved by her telling the truth! It irritated me no end.

My main issue with this book was that huge issues were treated as trivial. Debt is a very serious issue that affects so many people around the world, a lot of whom have had their lives ruined by their circumstances. However, it was made to seem like something that could easily be avoided if you just ignore the problem and keep making excuses to the bank, while continuing to make excessive and unnecessary purchases. There are people who are in debt simply by trying to keep their family fed and a roof over their head and the way this issue was treated like some kind of joke made me quite angry. I think it was meant to be light-hearted and a joke but I, for one, definitely did not find it funny.

To end my review on a positive note, some of the side characters were good. There were those few side characters who spoke a lot of sense and had some funny moments which kept me going a bit while I tried to get through it.

Overall, this series just definitely is not for me. I will try some of Sophie Kinsella's other work as I enjoyed her writing, but Becky Bloomwood is not someone whose story I wish to read more of.