Category Archives: YA

The Color Project

Read on 5th & 8th July, 2017

Author: Sierra Abrams

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5 Stars

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Bernice Aurora Wescott has one thing she doesn’t want anyone to know: her name. That is, until Bee meets Levi, the local golden boy who runs a charity organisation called The Color Project.

Levi is not at all shy about attempting to guess Bee’s real name; his persistence is one of the many reasons why Bee falls for him. But while Levi is everything she never knew she needed, giving up her name would feel like a stamp on forever. And that terrifies her.

When unexpected news of an illness in the family drains Bee’s summer of everything bright, she is pushed to the breaking point. Losing herself in The Color Project—a world of weddings, funerals, cancer patients, and hopeful families that the charity funds—is no longer enough. Bee must hold up the weight of her family, but to do that, she needs Levi. She’ll have to give up her name and let him in completely or lose the best thing that’s ever happened to her.

For fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson, The Color Project is a story about the three great loves of life—family, friendship, and romance—and the bonds that withstand tragedy.

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Thank you to Sierra Abrams for providing me with an eARC of The Color Project and Mollie the Reader for hosting the blog tour.

This has in no way influenced my review, all thoughts are my own.

The Color Project is a wonderful, heartwarming novel that captures the essence of interpersonal relationships – family, friendships and romantic. Up there with Queens of Geek, The Color Project is now one of my all-time favourite contemporary novels.

The Color Project features beautiful writing and a gorgeous design. However, the characters were by far the highlight of my reading experience.

First of all, the design of The Color Project is absolutely gorgeous. The cover, the chapter titles, the page breaks… beautiful. It’s definitely one of the prettiest books I’ve ever encountered and it really reflects the book well.

Sierra’s writing is beautiful, which is especially impressive considering this is her debut novel. Bee’s narrative voice is vivid and relatable, made unique through the inclusion of brackets to demonstrate her thought process (i.e. if Bee says one thing the brackets are used to reflect she’s really thinking something else) and “Thing You Should Know About Me [insert random number here]” randomly scattered throughout the text. The language, which is very contemporary with familiar colloquialisms, coupled with the incorporation of instant messaging conversations and references to current media such as The Book Thief and Hamilton, further allows the reader to be immersed in Bee’s narration.

Another unique formatting element is the fact that the chapter names are song titles. Personally, the only music I really listen to is Hamilton and Disney so I glossed over this part but for those who are interested, Sierra has compiled a Spotify playlist for all of the chapter title songs which can be found here. This element links in well with the story itself as Levi and Bee have several conversations regarding their taste in music.

Bee, our narrator, is a relatable, realistic character who is struggling with her own insecurities, identity and the pressure of not knowing what she wants to do with her life. She is also a bookworm (and book pusher) which I always love seeing. As challenges arose I didn’t always agree with how she dealt with them but I did understand where she was coming from when making her decisions.

Sadly, it’s incredibly rare to find present, positive family relationships within young adult literature as most novels either feature dead, absent or terrible parents – it’s almost as trite as the line “I let out a breath I hadn’t realised I was holding”. That said, Bee’s family were active and realistic; they teased and sometimes irritated one another but at the end of the day they were always there for each other. Individually Bee’s parents, Chloe and Matt, are wonderful people and great role models. Together, they have an amazing relationship that is actual goals. They are open and honest with each other and it’s apparent to all that they’re still madly in love. Bee’s siblings, Tom, Astrid and Millie, all have distinct personalities and were very much 3D characters.

Levi is an adorable cinnamon roll, a “precious heart”, and I love him so much. Not only is he incredibly kind, sweet, generous and selfless, but at the mere age of nineteen he runs his own charity – The Color Project – which administers financial aid to anyone who asks for it. His mother, Suzie, is equally amazing and I just want to hug them both and protect them from the world. Suffice to say, Levi is currently my top book boyfriend, even over Rhys from A Court of Mist and Fury and Jamie from Queens of Geek.

The Color Project is full of wonderful, kind, generous human beings. Gretchen, Bee’s best friend who lives across the county; Tracy, Bee’s manager at the flower shop; Ludwig, the delivery man; and all the volunteers at The Color Project are just a few of them.

Thus, in spite of the slightly darker themes that appear later in the narrative and a handful of terrible, selfish people, The Color Project leaves an overall light, fluffy, optimistic impression. It shows readers that yes, the world can be harsh, but it can be beautiful too.

The Color Project takes a relatively unique approach to relationships. Personally, I’ve found that young adult novels – particularly contemporaries – tend to build up to the moment the couple gets together and then stop. There usually isn’t anything past that; no models for navigating relationships, nothing on how to appropriately deal with conflict once the “honeymoon period” has gone by. The Color Project effectively navigates these waters; the relationship is developed, Bee and Levi start dating (and believe me, it’s adorable) but because of outside factors and some communication errors, there is hardship. To me, this is an incredibly important inclusion because that’s often how life is.

In terms of romantic relationships, I really appreciated that a) Bee wanted to wait until marriage to have sex and b) that her wishes were accepted, with no shame or judgement attached. I am a fan of sex-positive books and I believe they’re important but this element especially stood out to me as it’s something that I value.

Cute, fluffy and heartwarming while also making me ball my eyes out, The Color Project is a new favourite of mine. I loved it wholeheartedly and upon it’s release I will most certainly be shouting at people to read it.

The Color Project is now being released on August 17th as opposed to July 18th. Sierra addressed this in a Twitter thread which you can find here.

Sierra herself is super lovely and approachable. Her website can be found here and her Twitter here.

Let’s Discuss!

Have you heard of The Color Project?

If you’ve read The Color Project, what are your thoughts? If not, have I convinced you to read it upon release?

What are some of your favourite contemporaries?

What are some of your favourite novels featuring strong family relationships?

Please let me know! I love discussing with you guys 🙂

February Wrap-Up 2017

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Hey everyone! This month I managed to read a total of 15 books – mainly because I read a lot of graphic novels and audios, but I’m still pretty happy with it.

Once again, I have a lot of thoughts so this post is rather long.

 

The Books

All titles link to Goodreads

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter #7)

By J. K. Rowling

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5 Stars

Definitely my favourite of the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was a great read and a brilliant conclusion.

I found that this instalment was very much character driven. Alberforth, Luna, McGonagall, Dobby, Hermione and Neville were definitely my favourites. I liked Severus’ character and am very conflicted in my feelings for Dumbledore.

As this is a re-read for me, I wasn’t that emotional when it came to the deaths. That said, there were certain scenes that really resonated with me – I won’t list them due to spoilers but feel free to ask and I’ll gladly reminisce.

I’m rather dubious about some of the reasoning around Harry’s wand acting out and the whole thing with the elder wand, but that could be because I watch a whole lot of theory videos (SuperCarlinBrothers explain both of these instances much better in my opinion; here and here respectively).

I’m really glad I reread the series, I feel that it definitely enriched my appreciation for and understanding of the Harry Potter universe.

 

Saga Volume 4

By Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

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5 Stars

Another brilliant instalment the the series. As usual, it was a fast, easy read that took me under an hour. The characters are great and the plot is awesome. Definitely recommend.

 

Saga Volume 5

By Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

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4.75 Stars

Saga Volume 6

By Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

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5 Stars

I seriously love this series. It is so well written, the art is beautiful and it’s just addictive. The family aspect is great, it has a ton of diversity and strong characters. The plot is fantastic and I just can’t wait for the next volume to come out.

 

Ms Marvel: No Normal (Ms Marvel #2)

By G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona

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5 Stars

An absolutely amazing instalment, Ms. Marvel: Generation Why had so much packed into it, plot-wise as well as character development.

All the characters are amazing and we got cameos from Wolverine (who was super sassy), Captain America and a few other superheroes. I’m not really a fan of dogs, but Lockjaw was pretty awesome. Bruno was epic as always (#FriendshipGoals) and the focus on family was fantastic. I also really liked Sheikh Adbullah – he was an unexpected delight.

Kamala is by far my favourite though. She is such a fangirl and a nerd, sassy and loyal. I feel she also has a lot of character development as she grows into herself and learns to accept help. She also has some very poignant things to say.

I really liked how the Inhuman plot line (I’m an avid fan of Agents of SHIELD so I know more than some) and I can’t wait to see how everything turns out.

 

Ms Marvel: Crushed (Ms Marvel #3)

By G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona

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5 Stars

Okay, so this was actually the best. Not only did we get Loki in the actual comic and Kamala went through her first crush, an identity crisis and ensuing character growth, but at the end we got a mini comic that featured Jemma Simmons and Phil Coulson, who I absolutely love (as afore mentioned I’m a fan of Agents of SHIELD). Jemma in particular was an absolute gem and I absolute loved the interactions between her and Kamala.

 

Ms Marvel: Last Days (Ms Marvel #4)

By G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona

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5 Stars

These comics just keep getting better and better!

The characters were the highlight for me. Aside from the AMAZING team-up with Captain Marvel, most of the characters from previous instalments reappeared and were super awesome, breaking stereotypes and coming into themselves.

The family aspect was especially strong in this one – there was one scene in particular that was so beautiful it had me tearing up.

Kamala with a broken heart made me so sad and I just wanted to hug her forever.

Bruno once again continued to be amazing and I really liked how certain things were addressed.

Everything was just super beautiful, fast paced and amazing. Kamala is definitely one of my all-time favourite characters – I love her so much.

Also, we had an awesome team-up with Spider-Man in an extra comic at the end (which I didn’t 100% understand but it was still great).

 

Ms Marvel: Super Famous (Ms Marvel #5)

By G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona

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5 Stars

While not my favourite instalment, Ms Marvel: Super Famous was still pretty awesome.

I appreciate how we get to see Kamala stretching herself to the breaking point, but then acknowledging that she needed help and reprioritising her life.

Aamir and Tyesha are so adorable together and I love them. Iron Man was awesome, and his spat with Captain Marvel was hilarious. Mike is super cool – I wasn’t sure how I felt about her to begin with, but she’s really awesome and great for Bruno.

 

Ms Marvel: Civil War II (Ms Marvel #6)

By G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona

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5 Stars

This issue has a larger focus on family, morals, loyalty and identity, which I really enjoyed. Justice was also a prominent theme.

I really liked how we got to see a lot of Kamala’s background and family history as it is a huge part of her identity. I also appreciated it’s cyclical nature in Kamala’s character arc.

Kamala is very much a flawed character and we definitely see that in this instalment. Overall I feel like these last few instalments have been necessary character growth for Kamala. Now, I feel like she’s in a good place with herself and hopefully that’ll show through her actions and relationships in the next issue.

 

The Princess Diarist 

By Carrie Fisher

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4 Stars

The Princess Diarist was an easy read, providing insight into one most notably known as Princess Leia.

The book was divided into roughly three sections:

1) Life before Leia and Carrie’s affair with Harrison Ford

2) Carrie’s poetry and some diary entries from when she was filming the first Star Wars movie and had her affair

3) Life post-affair

My favourite part was definitely Carrie’s poetry. I hadn’t read much poetry, but from what I could tell it was quite good. However, I would have preferred to physically read it rather than listen to it.

I loved how the audiobook was narrated by Carrie. I also liked how they had a second narrator to come in and read the poems as it gave a youthful tone to it.

While not amazing, I would recommend The Princess Diarist to those who like Star Wars and are interested in Carrie’s life.

 

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

By Mindy Kaling

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3 Stars

Prior to reading this memoir, I essentially had no idea who Mindy Kaling was. It was this, perhaps, that made it an entertaining but overall forgettable read.

If I hadn’t listened to the audiobook I highly doubt I would have read this book at all.

 

Princess of Thorns

By Stacey Jay

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5 Stars

My favourite read so far this year, I can’t believe I hadn’t picked it up earlier.

Princess of Thorns is one of my new all-time favourite books (and my favourite audiobook next to the Fairyland series).

Why I Loved it: (No particular order)

  • Sass
  • Banter
  • Girl cross-dressing a boy to hide identity
  • Warriors
  • Kick-ass female character
  • Headstrong but flawed and loveable characters
  • Hate to love relationship (and then back again? It’s complicated)
  • Relationship based on friendship
  • NOT instalove
  • Fantasy
  • Intelligent characters
  • Curses + obscure(ish) fairytale retelling(s)
  • Character development
  • Strong female character challenging society’s perception of females
  • Royals
  • Plot twists
  • Magic
  • Morally ambiguous villain
  • Great sibling relationships
  • Adventure
  • People actually being human and smelling during long journeys rather than attractively smelling like cinnamon with constantly fabulous hair.

These aren’t even all the reasons, but I hope they’ve convinced you. It truly is a spectacular novel.

A note on the audiobook. I absolutely love the audiobook for this and I would recommend listening to it if you can. The accents were probably the best part for me; Aurora was vaguely Irish and Nicklaus British – I think, I’m terrible with accents. Either way, it was amazing. I also just really liked the narrator.

Essentially, just everyone go read it now. Especially if you like fantasy or any of the points I’ve listed sound remotely interesting.

 

Caraval (Caraval #1)

By Stephanie Garber

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3.75 Stars

Having heard really mixed reviews (mostly of the meh connotation) I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this one.

The writing was great, the world was interesting and overall it was fairly entertaining. I read it in one sitting.

That said, I did have some issues and I really wasn’t a fan of the characters.

You can find my full review here.

 

Fragmented Bliss

By B. J. Rosalind

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4 Stars

A beautiful book, I read it in under an hour. While I don’t quite understand all the poems (who really can though?) there were quite a few that were especially amazing.

The writing itself was elegant and sophisticated, yet raw in some parts.

I would definitely recommend, especially if you’re in a poetry phrase like myself.

 

Pygmalion 

By George Bernard Shaw

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4 Stars

One of the more accessible classics, Pygmalion is an enjoyable, comedic read with hidden depths.

The film counterpart, My Fair Lady is also rather entertaining and captures the spirit of the original text.

Would recommend.

 

Honorary mentions to my current reads, Cinder and Queens of Geek, as I read most of them in February.

 

Blog Posts

 

Other Notable Points

  • So far, I have read a total of 21 books this year.
  • I finally got my Learners so I can now drive.
  • I saw Live by Night and Hidden Figures, which are both amazing movies (Hidden Figures more so)
  • I  won an awesome giveaway which entitled me to 8 Audible credits! I got the email the day after I posted my January Wrap-Up, where I professed my love for audiobooks, which was rather amusing timing.
  • I attended the second YA Room book talk. This time it was for Caraval and it was held at Dymocks, which was amazing! It was great to see everyone again and meet a few new people. Also, I was once again in the group photo – an occurrence I’m hoping will hold (for those of you who don’t know, more often than not I seem to miss out on group photos). You can find the wrap-up here.

 

Let’s Discuss!

So, what have you been reading lately? Any exciting life occurrences? Any new years resolutions?

Have you read any of the books I listed? If so, what were your thoughts?  Do your opinions differ from mine?

Please leave a comment so that we can discuss!

Infinity (The Infinity Division #1)

Read on 9th November, 2016

Author: Jus Accardo

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4.5 Stars

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Nobody said being the daughter of an army general was easy. But when her dad sends a teenage subordinate to babysit her while he’s away… That’s taking it a step too far.

Cade, as beautiful as he is deadly, watches Kori with more than just interest. He looks at her like he knows her very soul. And when he saves her from a seemingly random attack, well, that’s when things get weird.

Turns out, Kori’s dad isn’t just an army general—he’s the head of a secret government project that has invented a way to travel between parallel dimensions. Dimensions where there are infinite Koris, infinite Cades…and apparently, on every other Earth, they’re madly in love.

Falling for a soldier is the last thing on Kori’s mind. Especially when she finds herself in a deadly crossfire, and someone from another Earth is hell-bent on revenge…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Note: I was sent a copy of this book by Entangled Teen in exchange for an honest review.

Infinity was an unexpectedly fantastic read. It had the potential to be extremely tropey and filled with instalove but (thankfully) was anything but that.

Very much a character-driven novel, Infinity was a thought-provoking read (even though I finished it months ago, I still sometimes think about it) complete with a compelling plot.

The characters in Infinity were realistic and flawed.

Kori is posed as a mature, rational person who is able to reasonably deal with issues and communicate well – which are not skills often represented in YA. Her emotions are vivid but she is able to think things through. Having lost her mother to cancer, she has experienced grief, which gives her a unique perspective and understanding when dealing with the other core characters.

Kori was also intelligent. Even though she was constantly placed in bad situations with her life on the line and her entire understanding of her parents was turned upside down, she never whined about it. Instead, she was practical in getting information and formulating a plan.

Cade was interesting. Guilt-ridden and tragic, I really felt for him and appreciated his depth of emotions. His character development was very well done.

I really appreciate the emphasis placed on perspective in this novel. As new information came to life, characters were seen differently, yet the core of them stayed the same.

Noah was a great example of this. At first, he was distanced and antagonistic but then as Kori, and therefore the audience, were explained the reasons as to why he was like this, an understanding formed and he became one of my favourite characters. He was very much a tragic cinnamon roll.

Infinity focuses on the complexity of humanity and the morally grey area; when is it okay to kill someone? Is the death penalty ever okay? If someone close to you has broken the law or is planning to, where do your loyalties lie? What is the right thing to do?

How do you know it’s love if you’ve only ever experienced it once? What can you really know about a person when you only glimpse them? How do you know happiness is real? How do you separate your feelings for someone if they look exactly the same as the last person you loved?

The romance in this book was fantastic – instead of instalove, it focused on potential rather than destiny, while also recognising unhealthy relationships and not labelling them as love.

Unexpectedly, family plays a significant role in Infinity. Although Kori’s mother is dead and her father absent for large portions of the novel, the impact and values they left behind was recognised and realised through the characters’ actions.

As mentioned, the plot itself was great. It was engaging yet realistic, gradually widening the parameters of the world as Kori got to know more, rather than engaging in the well known practice of info-dumping.

In a world of parallel dimensions, how do you define yourself? What makes one Kori different from another? Does fate play a part? What does it mean to interact with people who knew another version of yourself? 

Recommended for fans of Claudia Grey’s Firebird trilogy, character-driven narratives and general parallel dimension plots.

Let’s Discuss!

Have you read Infinity? 

If so, what were your thoughts?

If not, does it sound like something that would interest you? (Please say yes, I really need someone to fangirl discuss with!)

Have you read any other books featuring parallel dimensions? If so, please recommend – it’s a favourite trope of mine but I’ve only read a few.

Caraval (Caraval #1)

Read on 20th February, 2017

Author: Stephanie Garber

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3 Stars

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Welcome to Caraval, where nothing is quite what it seems.

Scarlett has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show.

Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure. And for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father.

When the sisters’ long-awaited invitations to Caraval finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show’s mastermind organiser, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But nonetheless she quickly becomes enmeshed in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak. And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Having heard really mixed reviews (mostly of the “meh” connotation) I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this one.

The writing was great, the world was interesting and overall it was fairly entertaining. I read it in one sitting.

That said, I did have some issues.

I really wasn’t a fan of the characters.

Scarlet grew on me and I actually ended up liking her, Julian was kind of “meh” but I liked him well enough and the little we knew about Legend interested me.

As for everyone else… not really a fan. I understand that dislike for the Governor and the Count is expected but I really disliked Tella; I found her to be selfish and not at all a good sister. I felt that, even though she was the younger sibling, she patronised Scarlet and looked down upon her because she was cautious. I took issue with a lot of her actions and something about her just rubbed me the wrong way.

The plot was interesting and had several unexpected twists. That said, I felt like it romanticised death and suicide, using it as a plot device, which is not cool. There were several instances where it felt unnecessary and I just feel like it wasn’t dealt with well or in a sensitive way at all.

Here’s a link to a good thread on the topic: https://twitter.com/piratesnpixdust/s… However, she does go into spoilers.

Trigger warnings for suicide and parental abuse.

While it was an okay read and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to anyone, I am intrigued enough to continue with the series.

Let’s Discuss!

Have you read Caraval? If so, what were your thoughts? There seems to be a lot of mixed opinions around this one.

I read Caraval for The Ya Room‘s February book of the month. Are any other fellow Melbournians coming to the discussion next week?

January Wrap-Up 2017

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Hey everyone! Here is my rather belated January wrap-up. Unfortunately, I only read 6 books.

The Books

All titles link to Goodreads

Talking As Fast As I Can

By Lauren Graham

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4.5 Stars

This book was fantastic and fun and I’m so glad I decided to listen to the audiobook. Lauren Graham is such a performer and she is just so wonderful to listen to.

A really easy read, I recommend it to all fans of Gilmore Girls.

 

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter #5)

By J. K. Rowling

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5 Stars

Many people say that this instalment is their least favourite of the series, but I didn’t find that at all – perhaps because I listened to the audiobook rather than reading a physical copy. At any rate, I loved this book.

Overall, it was a fantastic read with brilliant characters, mixing entertaining times with frustrating ones.

If you are struggling to get through, I do thoroughly recommend listening to the audiobook as I feel it would help out significantly. However, that is coming from someone who loves audiobooks and what works for me may not work for you.

You can find my full review here.

 

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter #6)

By J. K. Rowling

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5 Stars

One of my favourites of the series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was an easy and engaging read.

Ginny, Neville and Luna continued to be fantastic characters, coupled with the ever-brilliant Hermione and Professor McGonagall. Dumbledore was also most definitely a highlight. While I’m still up in the air about whether I actually like Snape, I did appreciate the foreshadowing where he was concerned.

I appreciate how the relationships between Harry and Ginny & Ron and Hermione were fleshed out, making me more on board with them than I was. However, I’m still not sure if I like Ron and Hermione together.

Ron under the love potion was probably my favourite part, but Luna’s quidditch commentary certainly comes a close second.

 

Hamilton: The Revolution

By Lin-Manuel Miranda & Jeremy McCarter

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5 Stars

I love this book and Hamilton with every fibre of my being. It was fantastic and amazing and brilliant. – I read it in three sittings.

Lin’s annotations were definitely my favourite part. I learnt so much and was throughly entertained and sometimes even got slightly emotional (I teared up near the end).

This book cements my love of Hamilton and I will forever love it and pet it (seriously, this book is gorgeous!)

I will forever stand by the fact the Lin is an absolute genius.

 

Ida

By Alison Evans

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4 Stars

I was surprised at how much I ended up liking Ida – it took me a while to really get into the story.

An awesome thing about this book is the amount of representation it has, especially considering it’s not the main focus (which some books do). Here, it’s not really a big deal – which I like. There are characters who are bisexual, genderqueer and genderfluid.

Another pro is that the pronoun “they” was used in reference to the love interest, Daisy, which is something that took a little bit of getting used to but was rather cool.

Even though it’s not really highlighted, there are also some PoCs in here.

Frank was great – he was certainly a highlight and perhaps even my favourite character.

Damaris and Adrastos were quite interesting, if confusing – they were never quite explained.

The narrative style of third person present tense was something that I’m not usually a fan of but it did grow on me.

I’m glad I read Ida in one sitting, because it had the potential to be rather confusing. It also had a rather open ending with some things left unresolved. However, it was interesting and I did enjoy it.

 

No Sugar

By Jack Davis

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3.5 Stars

This was a school text and while I did enjoy it to some extent, it wasn’t the best. It was better than I’d anticipated but I really had to push myself to read it.  That said, it is probably one of the more interesting books I had to read.

As it deals with the treatment of Aboriginal people in Australia during the Stolen Generation, it is not only diverse but #ownvoices too, which is cool.

Gran was pretty awesome, while Cissie and Sister Eileen were also interesting.

Blog Posts

 

Other Notable Points

  • I set my Goodreads goal to 70 books. I usually set it to around the hundred mark, but as I’m in year 12 this year I wasn’t sure if I could make it.
  • I had an awesome time at a bookish picnic hosted by the YA Room, a new Melbourne-based book club. I’m also actually in a group photo, which is a welcome change (even if I’m at an event, I always seem to miss the group photo. You can find the official wrap-up post here.
  • The YA Room’s first book of the month was Ida by Alison Evans. We had a discussion at the Alexandria Gardens where Alison graced us with their presence. It was another awesome time. The wrap-up post can be found here. I also managed to be in this group photo too, which was awesome.
  • School started back and with it, year 12 – a.k.a my final year, which is sure to be a lot of fun, but also a stress-fest. We’ll see how the procrastinator in me handles it.

 

Let’s Discuss!

So, what have you been reading lately? Any exciting life occurrences? Any new years resolutions?

Have you read any of the books I listed? If so, what were your thoughts?  Do your opinions differ from mine?

How were your holidays? (If you had any) Did you get up to much?

Are you back at school too?

Please leave a comment so that we can discuss!

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter #5)

Read from 3-14th January, 2017

Author: J. K. Rowling

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5 Stars

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Harry Potter is due to start his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His best friends Ron and Hermione have been very secretive all summer and he is desperate to get back to school and find out what has been going on. However, what Harry discovers is far more devastating than he could ever have expected…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I’ve been rereading the Harry Potter books for some time now, but this is the first instalment where my thoughts are extensive enough to warrant a review. That said, please forgive the fact that there are no prior reviews on these books and that I am instead jumping in at number five.

Many people say that this instalment is their least favourite of the series, but I didn’t find that at all – perhaps because I listened to the audiobook rather than reading a physical copy. At any rate, I loved this book.

Professor McGonagall and Ginny Weasley completely stole the show with their vibrant personalities and high levels of sass. Luna, Hermione, Neville, the twins and Tonks were also fantastic.

Umbridge has always been a fantastic love-to-hate villain and she certainly did not disappoint. There was also an interesting detail about her that I had forgotten until rereading which I quite liked. She was completely horrible and cruel, and it was a delight seeing her in disarray when the Weasley twins were up to mischief.

Harry really frustrated me, but I actually think that this was a good thing. Harry’s temper was quick and destructive (his friends were even scared of him at times), he didn’t appreciate the people around him, he was selfish, and he was rash. However, some of those qualities (such as the temper) I believe may have been (at least to some degree) appropriated from Voldemort. It also made him flawed and somewhat more relatable. It will be interesting to see his character development through the next few novels – you can already start to see it at the end of Order of the Pheonix in his interaction with Luna.

I really didn’t like Cho but I understand that she was needed to help Harry grow as a character. Personally, I found her to be selfish, extremely shallow and rather superficial.

Dumbledore was interesting. For the majority of the novel, I, like Harry, was frustrated at and disappointed in Dumbledore, who had been like a father figure to Harry in his time at Hogwarts to date. It had been such a long time since I’d read “Order of the Phoenix” that I’d entirely forgotten his motivations – but Rowling did a fantastic job at portraying them in the reveal at the end, painting Dumbledore as flawed, vulnerable and… old. That conversation was perhaps one of my favourite scenes in the novel.

Overall, it was a fantastic read with brilliant characters, mixing entertaining times with frustrating ones.

If you are struggling to get through, I do thoroughly recommend listening to the audiobook as I feel it would help out significantly. However, that is coming from someone who loves audiobooks and what works for me may not work for you.

Let’s Discuss!

Have you read Harry Potter? Are you one of the few who haven’t?

What’s your favourite instalment? Least favourite?

Favourite character?

Any unpopular opinions?

Come chat with me! I love to discussions.

October, November & December Wrap-Up 2016

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Hey everybody! It’s been ages but I’m finally back! She say the month before year 12.

Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to be doing a slight redesign as well as uploading new content – I have big plans and I’m really excited about them.

Over these past three months I read a total of 25 books.

Note: like my previous wrap-up this one is extremely long. You have been warned.

 

The Books

All titles link to Goodreads

 

October

 

Omari and the People

By Stephen Whitfield

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3.5 Stars

A character-driven exodus of a people lead by hope and just looking to survive. While this story does have some elements of romance it is more a side element than anything.

You can find my full review here.

 

Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3)

By Leigh Bardugo

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4 Stars

A great, satisfying read with beautiful writing.

I marathoned this trilogy earlier this year, with the exception of the last two or three chapters of this novel. I really wish I had kept on reading as there were a few things I was slightly confused about upon completion – definitely a case of “it’s not you, it’s me.”

 

Hollow City (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #2)

By Ransom Riggs

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4.25 Stars

I liked this instalment a lot better than the first, which is a relief.

It was a lot more engaging, the characters more developed, the writing better (there were quite a few great quotes!) and the romance between Jacob and Emma a lot less creepy (I’m kind of behind it now, but we’ll see).

I especially liked how Jacob’s peculiarly was further developed and we get a hint at another unexpected aspect (but that could just be me overthinking).

Again, I really liked how the characters were explored. In Miss Peregrine’s I felt rather detached from the cast, but I came to care about them in Hollow City.

To be perfectly honest, I was unimpressed with the first book and had to push myself to read this one. However, I am extremely glad I did and am excited to see how this series ends.

 

These Broken Stars (Starbound #1)

By Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

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4 Stars

Although it took a bit to get into, I ended up really enjoying These Broken Stars.

The character development was definitely a highlight and is what stands out for me. The characters really came into their own and also came to fit with each other really well.

Recommend for people looking for a solid sci-fi survival romance. I’ve also heard it described as “the titanic in space”, though it was more focused on surviving the planet than the high society/world aboard the spaceship.

 

This Shattered World (Starbound #2)

By Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

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4.25 Stars

This Shattered World was easier to get into than These Broken Stars for me. I really enjoyed the characters (plus those epic action scenes) and the plot was more politics and conspiracy theories than survival, though they both share a strong military vibe.

I really appreciated the diversity in this book; Lee is half Chinese and Flynn is Irish, and there was a fair amount of culture surrounding that, which was really cool.

I will say that I was (and still am) confused about the dream passages that we get every few chapters. It made sense to include them but I’m still rather confused. I preferred the interview excerpts from These Broken Stars in that regard.

I would recommend reading this series back to back if possible, because there are a few subtle references and cameos that are easy to miss.

Tarver and Lilac have a cameo! Which was a lot of fun. I also really liked how there was an obscure mention of Lee in These Broken Stars, Sofia was a minor character in this book and Gideon was also mentioned (though more obscurely). Excitement levels = very high.

Overall, this series so far is an excellent sci-fi with great characters and an intriguing plot. I would recommend to those who enjoy YA books and may want to dabble in sci-fi.

 

Their Fractured Light (Starbound #3)

By Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

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4.75 Stars

I really loved this book, and reading it also made me appreciate the previous books more.

I was initially disappointed to find out that this finale was only in Sofia and Gideon’s POVs, but it worked out really well.

I loved all the connections between characters that have been woven in from the beginning. Seeing everyone interact and the threads finally coming together was absolutely fantastic and rather fulfilling. However, I must admit, my favourite parts were the excerpts from the whispers before each chapter. My heart soared, broke, and everything began falling into place.

I will say that the characters do feel older than teenagers – but then again, these characters have been forced to face a lot of challenging situations and grow up fast.

The plot took unexpected turns, often throwing me for a loop, which is always great.

An easy read and a solid finale, Their Fractured World is definitely worth the read. Again, I suggest marathoning this series if that is at all possible as there are subtle connections and foreshadowing threaded throughout all three books.

I’m also left wondering if Amie enjoys writing zombies as they have appeared in both her series to some degree…

 

Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2)

By Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

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5 Stars

While I didn’t like Gemina quite as much as Illuminae I still really enjoyed it. Despite it being over 600 pages, the format and the fast pace meant that I finished it in a single day (and a school day none the less).

I really enjoyed the new characters we were introduced to, though it took me a little longer than with Hannah and Ezra. Nick and Hannah were pretty great, though Ella was by far the standout. Ella was severely disabled but she didn’t let that stop her – she was sassy and amazing and an incredibly talented hacker.

In this instalment we also meet Isaac, Kady’s dad, which was great.

I will say, I went into Gemina expecting the surviving crew from Illuminae to come in around half way through, but it was more like two thirds.

I loved all the plot twists – which are essentially staples in both Amie and Jay’s writing. The character one was great, but at the end when we find out what “gemina” means? Genius. (And yes, I am being deliberately vague, thank you for noticing).

Suffice to say, I recommend this series to pretty much everyone and I can’t wait for the third one (in which my name will be included!)

 

Matilda

By Roald Dahl

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4 Stars

This was my first Roald Dahl book.

Matilda was a surprisingly good read with a humorous voice, an incredibly intelligent protagonist who loves to read, a horrid antagonist and some great friendships.

In terms of plot, I pretty much knew what was going to happen as I’d seen the movie as a child and saw the musical just before I picked up the book. It’s always really interesting to see different takes on a story and how it changes the meaning. Both adaptations are quite good but there is a definite innocence and charm about the original source material.

A recommended read to all ages, especially if you have seen or are going to see one of the adaptations. Dahl’s narrative voice is certainly one I will be exploring further.

 

November

 

Infinity (The Infinity Division #1)

By Jus Accardo

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5 Stars

A surprisingly brilliant read, Infinity features fantastic characters, a great plot, and a focus on perspective.

You can find my full review here.

 

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter #3)

By J. K. Rowling

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5 Stars

It’s been years since I first read the Harry Potter series, and I’ve been really enjoying listening to them on audio. It’s amazing the little details you forget even when you think you know the stories so well. Prisoner of Azkaban is perhaps my favourite so far.

 

Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them

By J. K. Rowling

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3.75 Stars

Note: this is the textbook, not the screenplay.

I read this in anticipation of the movie. As expected, it was interesting but rather dry as it is, in fact, a textbook.

 

Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #3)

By Ransom Riggs

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4 Stars

Library of Souls was an average read for me, but it wrapped up the series well.

This series put me in a slight reading slump as I simply had no read desire to pick it up. I felt no connection to the characters, the plot was okay, the world was decent and it was overall just a “meh” book (and series) for me.

I feel that 4 stars is somewhat generous so that may be subject to change, but we’ll see.

Personally, I wouldn’t recommend this series but that’s just my opinion – I know several people who love it. However, I feel like these books will ultimately prove forgettable and I’ll likely unhaul them.

 

December

 

Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1)

By Alison Goodman

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4 Stars

A fun and historically accurate read, (well, excluding the whole demon hunting thing) Lady Helen has a strong, stubborn, intelligent protagonist, an alluring love interest and great female friendship.

I was hoping for more training on Helen’s end but I understand that this was very much an introductory novel where she was still working out where she stood. However, I sincerely hope that there will be more training in the second instalment.

 

Lusus Naturae: A Lord Carlston Story (Lady Helen #1.5)

By Alison Goodman

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3 Stars

An okay read, this is just a short novella from Carlston’s point of view when he first meets Helen. It doesn’t tell us all that much that we didn’t already know, save for the fact that his wife did indeed go missing as her body was never found. Again, I hope that more will be revealed around this in the second book.

 

Saga Volume 1

By Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

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5 Stars

New to graphic novels though I am, I found Saga to be an absolutely fantastic read.

The art was beautiful, the characters great and the plot intriguing. However, my favourite part was definitely the fact that their daughter is the one narrating the story.

I absolutely flew through these first three instalments – I read them back to back and it took me less than an hour for each. I can’t wait to read the rest. (Shout out to my friend Tara who leant me her copies. You’re a gem.)

However, I will say that there is sex, nudity and violence in these comics. If you’re not comfortable with that, maybe give Saga a miss.

 

Saga Volume 2

By Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

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5 Stars

 

Saga Volume 3

By Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

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5 Stars

 

Ms Marvel: No Normal (Ms Marvel #1)

By G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona

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4.5 Stars

A whole lot of fun, Ms Marvel was a great read. Kamala Khan is an adorable, nerdy teenager who is also a muslim – that alone had me sold. She writes fanfics too! So relatable and awesome. Her friends and family were also fantastic and I can’t wait to see where this story goes.

 

On the Fence

By Kasie West

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4.5 Stars

A fun, light read, On the Fence was exactly what I needed to get me out of my slump – I breezed through it in a single sitting.

Reminiscent of Sarah Dessen (who got me into contemporary) it has great characters, an interesting story and deals with more serious issues of identity and family.

 

The Distance Between Us

By Kasie West

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4.5 Stars

Another fun story to read in one sitting, The Distance Between Us is full of vibrant characters and dynamics, sarcasm, banter and wit. It has people being people, raw and unfiltered.

Kasie is fast becoming a favourite author if mine, and I’m amazed that I haven’t picked her up sooner – the Sarah Dessen vibes, the light, fluffy story, the rave reviews… I also really appreciate how her stories feature cameos from other stories – One the Fence briefly mentions this protagonist, and has more in-depth mentions from two others.

A great read, I can’t wait to read the rest of her collection.

 

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter #4)

By J. K. Rowling

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4.25 Stars

Another great instalment, The Goblet of Fire was fun.

The biggest thing rereading this series has done for me is making me appreciate Ron’s character – prior to the re-read, I simply thought he was an idiot. Now, even though I still sometimes think he’s an idiot, I really appreciate his friendship with Harry.

However, I am left with a question: why is it that Harry can’t see the thestrals at the end of Goblet of Fire but can in the beginning of Order of the Phoenix?

 

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda

By Becky Albertalli

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5 Stars

This book is so completely adorable I think my heart has melted. (I mean, I was warned but…)

Everything is just so cute and fluffy and adorable and I love it so much! It does also deal with friendships and family which is cool, but I’m currently riding the high from this book.

I am extremely tempted to immediately reread so I can catch all the adorable moments irl with Blue now that I know who he is (and he’s perfect btw) – I can only remember a few.

Anyway, I love it, should have read it sooner and must now impasse upon you all the importance of reading this book ASAP.

 

Milk and Honey

By Rupi Kaur

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4 Stars

A beautiful, moving, accessible collection of poems that anyone can read and understand.

 

The Fill-In Boyfriend

By Kasie West

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4 Stars

While not my favourite work of hers, The Fill-In Boyfriend was still a great read.

Highlights include expansive character development, a focus on family and friendships, as well as encouraging us all to be better, more authentic and open people.

Kasie has definitely earned her place as one of my favourite contemporary authors and I look forward to reading more from her.

 

Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1)

By Leigh Bardugo

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5 Stars

So, after much delay, I finally picked up Six of Crows and, as anticipated, absolutely loved it.

The plot twists were amazing and the heists excellent, but the characters are what really made it for me. – The wit, the chemistry, the genius… I loved it all (especially Kaz).

Though I’m still not 100% sure that it’s necessary to read the Grisha trilogy before Six of Crows, it definitely helps. I’m also glad that I listened to the audiobooks as it definitely helped my mental pronunciations of the various terms that otherwise I would have had no idea.

I will say, I kept getting distracted by the sheer beauty of the physical book. I managed to score the black stained hardback, and it is utterly gorgeous – the colours are so deep and (again) gorgeous.

I definitely recommend this book and can’t wait for the next one.

 

Blog Posts

 

Other Notable Points

  • The Gemina launch happened! I got to meet so many of my amazing twitter friends for the first time and/or again. It was amazing! Plus, I actually took photos this time.
  • I’m still obsessed with Hamilton. I really don’t think that’s going to stop any time soon.
  • I got my dream job at a bookstore.
  • The school year finished! Hooray for holidays but cue existential crisis about year twelve.
  • I marathoned all of the Gilmore Girls episodes ever and am now obsessed. However, I’m not really a fan of the revival – though there are parts that I like, not least that it’s existence pushed me to start watching the show in the fist place. Highlights of the revival include the introduction and Emily’s story arc.
  • I’ve been organising my life – to some extent. Let’s not talk about the homework that’s glowering at me ominously from the corner. I got rid of a lot of clothes, I unhealed a heap of book, I rearranged my bookshelves and I got a diary.
  • I made my first instagram post, which is cool. I’m @joysofbookworms if anyone cares. However, I doubt I’ll be posting much – twitter is where my heart is. Self-promo much?

 

Let’s Discuss!

So, what have you been reading lately? Any exciting life occurrences? Any new years resolutions?

Have we read any of the same books? Do your opinions differ from mine?

Please leave a comment so that we can discuss!