2016: tbr, challenges and anticipated releases

2016 Book Challenges

There are so many (and I mean SO MANY) books I didn’t get the chance to read last year. If you see the state of my tbr pile, you would absolutely lose your mind. Not to mention the number of books I am planning to buy as they are released this year. It is insane. I cannot keep up. And while it is comforting to know I will never run out of books to read, I would like to make some ground on them. Which is why I have decided to participate in a couple of book challenges this year 🙂

The first one is ‘Around the year in 52 books’, which is the one I will be focusing on the most. It will (hopefully) encourage me to read at least one book a week in response to a prompt (although I am already behind oops). The prompts all looked really fun and interesting as well, so it should be a good one.

The other challenge is Popsugar’s 2016 reading challenge, which I’m thinking will just kind of complete itself but also force me to broaden my reading scope a little outside of my comfort zone.

Finally, my goodreads challenge. I have been a little ambitious this year and set it to 60 books, which given my 36 books read last year, is achievable but a high goal. We’ll see how it goes.

2016 Anticipated Releases

  • This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp 

technically, this book has already been released, but it is still a 2016 release so whatever. It sounds incredibly powerful and confronting, and it is something which I am simultaneously dreading but looking forward to delving into.

  • The Crown by Kiera Cass

Super excited for this finale to the Selection series. Despite popular opinion, I quite enjoyed Eadlyn as a protagonist, and I can’t wait to see where this final book takes her.

  • The Rose and the Dagger by Renne Ahdieh

The Wrath and the Dawn was one of my favourite books of 2015, and as soon as I finished it I searched for the next one. I can’t believe it is so close. It is a beautiful world, a beautiful story, and beautiful characters which break my heart over and over again.

  • Heartless by Marissa Meyer

I really enjoy Marissa Meyer’s fairytale retellings, and having loved Fairest in particular, can’t help but be excited to see where she takes the story of the Queen of Hearts.

January TBR

  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas*
  • Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry*
  • All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
  • Winter by Marissa Meyer*
  • The Assassins Blade by Sarah J Maas
  • Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover*

*books for the Around the year in 52 books challenge

all in all, looking forward to a great year of books for 2016, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I will!

Review: The Heir by Kiera Cass

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The Heir by Kiera Cass

Genre: YA Dystopia

Goodreads Link

Cover: 5/5 Stars – all these covers are beautiful

Narrator: 4/5 Stars – I liked her more than most people

Other Characters: 3.5-4/5 stars – I wanted to see more of them, esp. her brothers.

Plot: 3.5/5 – so many plot holes and empty plot points

Romance: 3.5/5 – could have been better, but I understand the lack of it.

Vibe: 4/5

Overall:    

Review: 

As much as I loved ‘The Selection’, there are a lot of plot issues with Kiera Cass’ books, and The Heir is no different. A lot of things felt rushed and a lot of interesting plot points were introduced and then left hanging there, almost as if they were forgotten.
I felt like there was an attempt to develop Eadlyn’s relationships with too many of The Selected, to the point where even the ones she knew better were hard to remember.
There was also too large a focus on Henri and Erik for my liking, and too many sweet moments between Eadlyn and those two rather than with the others, like Hale and Kile, although that just might be a personal issue. As in, because I personally disliked them, and am incredibly suspicious of them, whereas Kile seems really cute and I’m a sucker for the whole ‘I thought you were an idiot but if I had just gotten to know you better I would have fallen in love with you earlier’ story line. Plus, we totally needed to see him shirtless rather than almost-shirtless.

Otherwise, this book was just as good and addictive as all the others. I love this world, even with all its faults, and although these books can feel like ‘The Bachelor: Royal Edition’, they still are so entertaining and exciting that I love them.
It’s funny that a lot of people’s main issue was with Eadlyn as a character. Yes, she was a bitch sometimes, and she was incredibly selfish and spoilt, and basically everything Kile called her, but on the other hand, there were a lot of times where, even if I didn’t agree with her, I understood her incredibly well. And she obviously did care about her family a lot, especially her parents, but at eighteen it is hard to be told you have to sacrifice your life and your freedom for the wellbeing of others, especially in relation to something as important as marriage and love.
She was also just a scared little girl to me at times. Her repetition of ‘No one in the world is as powerful as me’ was almost heartbreaking in its frequency, because while she obviously was one of the most powerful women in the world, it was almost as if she didn’t believe it. She seems very confused and uncertain and overwhelmed by everything that is expected from her, and I sympathise with that.
Her turning point, while very obvious, at the end of this book also made me incredibly excited for the next one, but I’m not sure how Cass is going to wrap this up in only 300-400 pages, because there are 19 boys, 1 very stubborn and protective girl and a whole country of problems to resolve.

All in all, I flew through this book in a day and enjoyed every moment of reading it.

P.S. America better not fucking die.

P.P.S. If I were to compare it to the first 3 books of the series, it was not as frustrating or heart wrenching, and I think that’s mainly because Maxon and America falling in love was so completely frustrating and heart wrenching. Also, Maxon was still the cutest and sweetest guy in the book, and a total DILF.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 ALL TIME Favourite Authors

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

This weeks Top Ten Tuesday is Top Ten ALL TIME Favourite Authors.

To say this was difficult is an understatement. I did manage to narrow it down, but there are so many authors that I absolutely LOVE that did not make this list. As it is also favourite of ALL TIME, some authors I more recently discovered were sacrificed for author’s that I have loved for a longer period of time. They are also in order of discovery (so the order in which I first read a book by them).

1. Melina Marchetta

I was 10 years old when I first read Looking for Alibrandi. That was probably a little young, but as a kid I always had the tendency to read books aimed at the age bracket above from me. It didn’t matter who it was aimed at, because I remember relating so much to that book (which is a big thing for a 10 year old), especially the family aspects of it. I have re read it many times since then, as well as her other books, and I’ve found a way to relate to different aspects of all of them, and each time I read them, I fall in love with something new about it. Nine years on, and I’m still not bored of reading Looking for Alibrandi, and I’m not sure I ever will be.

2. Ann Brashares

The author of ‘The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants’ series, Ann Brashares writes in a way that is so easy to read. I love all of her books, and even cried over the the fifth book in the series, ‘Sisterhood Everlasting’, even though I read it years after I read the first four.

3. Sarah Dessen

She just has a spark in her stories which makes me love them. She also manages to explore heavy topics in a way which doesn’t bog you down in the depression of it all, but makes you sympathise and empathise with the characters she creates. Ever since I was in Primary School, I have been in love with everything Sarah Dessen has written, and while her most recent books have been lacking some of that characteristic spark, I’ve still enjoyed them. I’m highly anticipating ‘Saint Anything’, hoping that it will be one of her best yet.

4. Cassandra Clare

There are so many issues surrounding Cassandra Clare and her books, but 12 year old me, who had just found ‘City of Bones’, had no clue, and loved them shamelessly. I still love them, despite the claims surrounding them and the failure of a film, though The Infernal Devices series is my favourite of the two.

5. Richelle Mead

I read these after Twilight, and after I had started watching The Vampire Diaries, and it took me a long time to even consider them, purely based on their covers (they look super lame and cliche) and their title. I was so, so wrong, and I’m happy to admit it, because Richelle Mead’s books (both the Vampire Academy, and the Bloodlines series) are some of my favourites to date.

6. John Green

From experience, I’ve discovered that people either love John Green, or don’t understand the hype surrounding his books. I fall into the former category. I think his books are the perfect blend of funny, sad and touching, and while some are more serious than others, I think he writes books that change people’s lives.

7. Katie McGarry

I discovered Katie McGarry last year. I was on my kindle, looking for something to read, and decided to give ‘Pushing the Limits’ a try. It’s safe to say that I didn’t put it down. I don’t know what it is, but something in Katie McGarry’s writing makes it impossible for me to put her books down when I start reading them, and they just fill me with so much emotion I can’t help but love them.

8. Rainbow Rowell

‘Fangirl’ is literally my life this year (ok, I’m not as painfully stubborn as Cath, and I’m not living at college because my university is close to my parent’s house, but still, everything else). I am completely absorbed by every book Rainbow Rowell writes. No exaggeration, I will actually reach a point in her books where I will not stop until I have finished it. Three, four, five hours will pass, and I won’t even notice.

9. Sarah J Maas

What drew me to her series: the female protagonist was an assassin. What made me keep reading: Celaena Sardothien is everything I wanted and more, not to mention all the other characters. Her series has elements of everything in it. It’s simultaneously exciting and full of action, and character focused enough that you become highly invested. Chaol Westfall makes me cry.

10. Marissa Meyer

An author which combines four things I love: strong, kick ass female characters, fairytales, dystopia and Thorne Carswell.  I read all the Lunar Chronicles books in a week. I don’t know what I’m going to do when I finish Winter.

Honourable Mentions: Jaclyn Moriarty, Nicholas Sparks, Stephanie Perkins, Katja Millay, Kiera Cass, Jennifer Echols, Marie Lu, Lauren Oliver and Stephanie Meyer. 

Bookish Playlist A to Z: The Letter A

The idea: post a book recommendation and a song which reminds you of the book, or that you listened to while reading the book.
The catch: they both have to start with the same letter.
To fill a few blog posts in between my reviews, once a week I’ll make a Bookish Playlist post, each week corresponding to a different letter of the alphabet. Starting with…A
Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen & All I Need by Within Temptation
Sarah Dessen is one of my favourite authors, and while her most recent books have been missing the characteristic spark that made me fall in love with her in the first place, I don’t think I’ll ever stop reading her in the hopes that it comes back (I am incredibly excited for her new book, Saint Anything). Along for the Ride is one of my personal favourites, and having re read it a few months ago, I realised how the lyrics to this song encapsulate so many of the relationships in this book – Auden and Eli, Auden and her mother, Auden and her father, Auden’s father and Heidi, Auden and Maggie.
Sure, this song has romantic undertones at heart, but essentially it is about trust and healing and rebuilding parts of yourself that are broken, as well as acceptance and not giving up on those you love. I feel like these themes play a huge role in Along for the Ride, making this a perfect companion song for the novel (plus I really love both this book and this song).

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Inspiring Quotes from Books

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

This weeks Top Ten Tuesday is Top Ten Inspiring Quotes from Books.

It was difficult to narrow this down to only ten, because most of the books I love have something in them which inspires me, but I (barely) managed to. So, here are my Top Ten Inspiring Quotes from Books.

1. “ It was books that made me feel as if I was not completely alone. They could be honest with me, and I with them.” – Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Regardless of the controversy surrounding Cassandra Clare, The Infernal Devices series is one of my all time favourites, and a big part of that (other than it being about kick ass demon hunters and a period drama all in one) was the constant theme of books running throughout it. It was just so relatable, and this quote inspires me because of how much I sometimes feel this way.

2. “And no relationship is perfect ever. There are always some ways you have to bend, to compromise, to give something up in order to gain something greater. But, the love we have for each other is bigger than these small differences, and that’s the key. It’s like a big pie chart, and the love in a relationship has to be the biggest piece. Love can make up for a lot.” – This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

This is a big quote, but I love it in its entirety because of what it means. Whether regarding romantic relationships, familial, or friendly ones, it is true of everyone and everything. We have to compromise in order to live in harmony, but it is the love we have for each other that allows the sacrifices to be made to be worth it.

3. “Libraries were full of ideas – perhaps the most dangerous and powerful of all weapons.” – Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

Firstly, if you have not read this series, you have to go and read it RIGHT NOW. I’m only halfway through the second book but it is already becoming one of my favourites, and all the friends I’ve recommended it to have instantly fallen in love with it. Secondly, I absolutely love this quote. It just makes me feel like I have some kind of secret insight, and it’s so true!

4. “I think that’s what scares me: the randomness of everything. That the people who could be important to you might just pass you by. Or you pass them by. How did you know?” – Someday this Pain will be Useful to You by Peter Cameron

Okay, so I haven’t actually read this book. I’ve seen the movie, and while it didn’t touch me or stay with me, it did make me look up the book, and reading through a list of quotes lead me to this one. It is something that I feel all the time, especially being an introvert – how do you know who it is that is going to be right for you in different aspects of your life? or who you will be able to impact? People could walk past their soul mates on the street and never even give them a second glance.

5. “There’s some people in this world who you can just love and love and love no matter what.” – An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

I love John Green.

6. “In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you. (And the ones you can’t Google.)” – Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

I am Cath, so while she was sometimes painful to read in her stubbornness and insistence in not needing to make friends or not wanting to socialise, I totally understood her.  And, the amount of times I have been in a social situation and felt lost, or even tried to google the answer, is almost embarrassingly ridiculous.

7. “We’re like mysteries to one another. Maybe if I can solve him and he can solve me, we can explain each other. Maybe that’s what I need. Someone to explain me.”  – The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

This book is full of amazingly beautiful and raw lines. It’s heavy and emotional, and I it left me with a pain in my chest and tears in my eyes, but for all the right reasons. This quote touches me, fills me up and empties me all at the same time.

8. “It is easier to trick others into perceiving you as beautiful if you can convince yourself you are beautiful. But mirrors have an uncanny way of telling the truth.” – Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Mirrors, and people who know you way too well, because you can’t deceive them.

9. “How many more of us are faking the facade? How many more of us are pretending to be something we’re not? Even better, how many of us will have the courage to be ourselves regardless of what others think?” – Dare You To by Katie McGarry

I try everyday to be the truest self I can be, to not care what others think, and it’s one of the most difficult things I have to do. I also hate when people pretend to be something they’re not. It’s one of the biggest betrayals in my book. It is inherent in so many of us to be afraid of rejection, but the kind of acceptance you get for being something you’re not is not the acceptance worth losing yourself for.

10. “Alice: How long is forever? 

The White Rabbit: Sometimes, just one second.” – Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

This quote is every moment that makes you want it to last a lifetime, every moment that fills you so completely you feel as if you never need anything else, every moment of relief, every moment of excitement, every moment of joy, but also every moment of heartbreak and betrayal, and everything in between.

Review: This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

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This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

Genre: Contemporary YA

Goodreads Link

Cover: 4/5 stars – cute, fun, bright yellow and looks good on the bookshelf.

Narrator: 3.5/5 – frustratingly sensible

Other Characters: 4/5 – incredibly realistic and distinguishable. Also all had their own subplots.

Plot: 3.5/5 – a little slow at times, especially for a short book.

Romance: 3.5/5 – kind of insta love from the readers’ perspective

Realistic? I’m not going to rate this, because it was highly unrealistic (but still a good book if you look past the zero to none chance of this ever happening irl)

Vibe: 3.5/5

Overall:    

Review:

I had mixed opinions about this book from the beginning. I absolutely loved the first email exchange which started it, and, while a little cliche, how their story started out. First impressions made it seem quirky and funny and cute, and I settled in for a fluffy romance (which, in a way, it turned out being despite efforts to make it otherwise). Then, for a book of its length (relatively short), it became a little slow.

I enjoyed the conflict which prevented Ellie and Graham from being together, and understood her reasons for staying away from him even if she wasn’t concerned about the paps for any reason but they were incredibly intimidating. I liked the back story about her dad, because it gave her mother extra depth as a character without making me bored. However, the lack of explanation she gave Graham, and then the skip to three weeks later where he decided to forgive and forget so easily annoyed me a little.

Usually, I enjoy the anticipation of two people falling in love and finally coming together despite their differences, but in this case, it felt reversed – they had already come together, and while I still found their relationship sweet, I felt like I missed out on the establishment of it so I couldn’t connect with it on the same level.

Ellie’s decision to be with Graham also didn’t feel so much like a decision than something she accepted as an inevitable consequence, which also slightly upset me. She already felt like she was living around things that made other people happy – her mother, Meg etc.- and was almost afraid to do things that gave her joy, so this made me feel even more like she just let life happen around her rather than participating in it. This was strange, because Ellie wasn’t really that kind of character at all – she was determined to go to Harvard, she took the first step towards both Meg and her mother when they had issues they needed to resolve, she decided to go see her father – and it made me a little sad that she didn’t seem as strong as she actually was.

I felt sorry for Graham. I really could see how hard being a celebrity was, and while he was living his dreams, everything that Ellie brought to him was worth so much more and idk he just really made me feel for him. He was probably my favourite character. I cried when his parents called him to watch the fireworks with him. It was so sweet and it was exactly what he needed, which showed how while he was a huge movie star he was still only a seventeen year old boy.

Other than Graham, I really liked Ellie’s mum. While we didn’t see a lot of her, and she was set up as an “obstacle” to keep them apart, I didn’t feel like that was all she was. I felt like her shop said a lot about the kind of person she was, as well as her back story – an ambitious romantic who had built a barrier around her heart because of how Ellie’s father had hurt her. I felt like her actions in moving away and creating a new identity was strong, and completely understood her reasons for trying to protect her daughter. I also loved her relationship with Ellie, and the warmth and love she gave her.

Meg, on the other hand, irritated me the most. She was a cute character in the beginning (for a cliche, outgoing best friend to the more reserved protagonist), but her jealousy and anger at Ellie, while understandable, and her inability to forgive her until she found out the truth about Ellie made me dislike her. Her stringing their friend along for years before finally deciding to date him also made me think a little less of her.

Although this story was completely unrealistic, out of everything, this wasn’t an issue for me. I think this is both due to the fact that this is one of my -and many teenagers’- fantasies, and because majority of the characters and other elements to it felt realistic, so it almost created a balance. I really liked the emails at the beginning of each chapter, and that they continued to write them even after they had met in person. Adorable.

I really liked the ending, and I would have given the plot a 4 based on it alone. I’m still not sure about how Ellie’s relationship with Meg and her feelings towards her father seemed to be resolved so easily. I felt like it was meant to contain some kind of closure while also being touching in too short a time. But where her and Graham ended up, on the rocks, waiting for the sunset, was beautiful. There were no empty promises or attempts to make their relationship work beyond what they were sure of, there was just hope that it could. It left me in a nice place, despite everything else that happened, and to me, that makes a good ending.