The Clasp by Sloane Crosley These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik

What's Occurring? February Round Up

Saturday, February 28, 2015

I don't usually do a monthly round-up but thought I'd give it a go.

The Pages

I read a couple of good books this month. A quick fire summary:

  • Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang - Very sad but well written although I had to Google the bit about the narrator. 
  • To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han - Loved it! I really like Jenny Han's writing style - it reminds me of those 50s diners in shopping malls. You're still in the present day but there's a real nostalgic feel to her work. Lara Jean was a lovely main character - so sweet and young, which makes for a nice change! 
  • All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner - I liked this book. It was very funny in parts but generally quite sad. I did end up speaking like ELOISE a little bit after READING it though. Then I realised I think I speak like her anyway so...never mind!
  • I Was Here by Gayle Forman - Excellent stuff. I didn't like Just One Day etc. but was a big fan of If I Stay and Where She Went. This latest offering, to me, felt like a return to form. A difficult topic really well done. 
  • Kaleidoscope Hearts by Claire Contreras - Hmm...not my kind of book really. I liked the setting though. I'll make it to SoCal one of these days!
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins - Not my cup of tea unfortunately. There were numerous comparisons to Gone Girl but I didn't take to it at all. 
  • Mortal Gods by Kendare Blake - I need the next instalment NOW! I'm really enjoying this series. 

Favourite New Adult Books

Friday, February 27, 2015

I felt bad after going on a mini rant last week when talking about New Adult books. I still feel the same way but I'm not anti-New Adult. In fact, some of my favourite books could fit or are in this category, so I thought I'd mention a few that I really enjoyed. 

Flat-Out Love/ Flat-Out Matt/ Flat-Out Celeste by Jessica Parks

I just adored these books. The characters are so special and memorable and their trials are heartbreaking yet relatable. 

Raw Blue by Kirsty Eager

This book pretty much took my breath away and I've re-read it twice. I don't re-read very often anymore, so that act is testament to how taken I was with this book. You just need to read this. I promise you won't regret it. 

Breathe Annie Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

I'm a big fan of Miranda Kenneally's Hundred Oaks series and I liked this one in particular because half of it took part during the main character's first year at college. Apart from Fangirl (which we'll get to) I can't remember reading anything that deals with the moving in, making new friends, taking all these strange classes aspect of college. I think this is a great bridge book for those just about to finish high school and also a nice nostalgic trip for the rest of us whose college days have already turned golden thanks to Father Time. 

Secret Society Girl by Diana Peterfreund

Secret societies, Ivy League, a band of misfit characters? What's not to love! If you like How to Get Away With Murder, definitely give this series a go. The student characters on that really remind me of the group in the Secret Society Girl series. 

Charmed Thirds/Fourth Comings/Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty

Anyone who has ever glanced at this blog will know I'm a BIG fan of the Jessica Darling series. Again, I re-read these at least once a year (usually in the summer) and they always, always speak to me. There's something for everyone in these five books but the final three are set from college onwards and deal with all the usual fare associated with a twenty-something graduate but with signature Jessica Darling spin. I've seen people say they don't get these books but I really think it's about timing. Anyone in high school or college, get on them now and I promise you'll relate to them! As for the rest of us...well, it depends whether or not you can get back into the mindset of a teenager but that goes for all YA books. Sometimes, I forget they're written for Young Adults, not ME, and that's wrong. 

How to Love by Katie Cotugno

I really liked this book. The main character's situation isn't one you come across too much for this age range (I haven't anyway), so I appreciated that. The characters were well written and there was just that extra special something there. 

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Obviously. As with Breathe Annie Breathe this book is set during the twins' first year at college and all the ups and downs that go with that. Refreshing and hilarious!

Bond Girl by Erin Duffy

I read this around the time all those 'The Devils of Wall Street' books and films like Margin Call were out. This is a good inside look into the financial services industry through the eyes of a new graduate. I liked that the main character wanted to be a broker. So many of the twenty-somethings I read about are in the creative industries, which is fine - write what you know and all - but it was just a nice change. There's some good life lessons in there too. Maybe don't give it to someone just before they start their new financial services job though! 

What are some of your favourite New Adult type books? How about any with male protagonists? 

After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Publisher: Washington Square Press
Format: Kindle e-book
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:
From the author of Forever, Interrupted—hailed by Sarah Jio as "moving, gorgeous, and at times heart-wrenching"—comes a breathtaking new novel about modern marriage, the depth of family ties, and the year that one remarkable heroine spends exploring both. When Lauren and Ryan’s marriage reaches the breaking point, they come up with an unconventional plan. They decide to take a year off in the hopes of finding a way to fall in love again. One year apart, and only one rule: they cannot contact each other. Aside from that, anything goes. Lauren embarks on a journey of self-discovery, quickly finding that her friends and family have their own ideas about the meaning of marriage. These influences, as well as her own healing process and the challenges of living apart from Ryan, begin to change Lauren’s ideas about monogamy and marriage. She starts to question: When you can have romance without loyalty and commitment without marriage, when love and lust are no longer tied together, what do you value? What are you willing to fight for? This is a love story about what happens when the love fades. It’s about staying in love, seizing love, forsaking love, and committing to love with everything you’ve got. And above all, After I Do is the story of a couple caught up in an old game—and searching for a new road to happily ever after.
I finished this book on 31 January 2015 and I'm still thinking about it today! I didn't go into this one terribly excited because I wasn't that keen on Forever, Interrupted but I loved it! Such great characters and plenty to think about whatever stage in life. I particularly liked that there's no 'goodie' or 'baddie. When asked about her divorce in the Sunday Times Style magazine, Monica Bellucci mused that it takes two to tango, so neither party was to blame. I feel like that applies to Lauren and Ryan's marriage too.

As I said, this book made me think a lot. When Lauren and Ryan decided to spend the year apart, I didn't think it was a good idea. A year is a long time to not have any contact with your spouse. The fact that they also agreed to see other people didn't make sense to me either. My initial thought was if you go down that route, you might as well throw in the towel. How do you come back from that? However, by the end, I wasn't so sure of my initial thoughts. Maybe Lauren and Ryan really did just need time apart but I still kind of sided with the grandma when she said why can't you just go on separate holidays or find hobbies that didn't involve each other?

It got me thinking about co-dependency versus partnership. I remember in her book Mindy Kaling said something along the lines of her parents were partners - not BFF's because they had their own BFF's. I always thought that sounded about right. I should pause for a minute and add that I'm neither married nor in a relationship so all of this is purely hypothetical thinking. However, I can only assume that when you decide this person is the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, your relationship transcends BFF status, no? It's different. Lauren and Ryan seemed to do everything together. Surely even the most patient person would crack eventually if they spent nearly all of their time with the same person just going through the motions. Neither of them were making many active decisions but rather just coasting along on compromise highway glancing around for the nearest exit. I don't know, as I said, I have no experience in this area but I know I like my own space from time to time and I'm pretty sure that part of my personality won't change just because someone liked it and put a ring on it. Then again, different strokes for different folks. The one clear message is that time apart - from anything - is a good thing.

After I Do presented some really great examples of women and different views on love and relationships. First of all there was Lauren who liked having a steady boyfriend and settled down early. She's a trier - to a fault - and I sympathised with this aspect of her character. Triers are often perfectionists and all or nothing type folk and those are hard habits/traits to break. She believed in forever and she was willing to sacrifice a lot and block out some negative thinking to make sure forever happened. I admired her for that. Then there was Lauren's sister, Rachel, who was happily single (at least until it was mentioned by a family member). I could relate to Rachel too. Sometimes when you're in the zone, so busy getting on with your life - your work, your hobbies, your Netflix addiction - you don't even have time to think about being single (until a helpful family member brings it up). I admired that she was happy to pursue her dreams and didn't mind whether or not someone special came along at that moment in time. Lauren's mother on the  other hand wanted the romance stage and nothing else. Again, it was nice to see an older character with this outlook who wasn't branded a wayward mother. Finally, the grandmother was definitely in the 'til death do us part, come rain or come shine camp. I must be old-fashioned because I agreed with nearly all of her advice.

Overall, I just really liked this book. It was very thought provoking and definitely a good one if you've got a book club. I wanted to talk to people so badly whilst reading it! I'd like to read it again in ten years time to see if my views have changed.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Book Related Problems I Have

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme is: Top Ten Book Related Problems I Have. I tried not to rant too much but failed at the end. Sorry!


I love finding new books on Goodreads but the site has changed a lot and I now find it a little more unreliable than before. Books rated 4.2 stars often turn out to be not my cup of tea at all (one of the last books I read falls into this category). To be fair, this tends to be for YA/Contemporary books - especially if it's a romance and/or New Adult. I've said it before, experience dictates books classified as New Adult don't usually resonate with me. Actually, let's make NewAdult a separate point. TBC further down the list. However, getting back to Goodreads, I suppose from now on I will tread carefully when I see a book with a high rating. 

Exploring Other Genres 

I'm rubbish at reading outside of contemporary fiction. Maybe once a year I'll read a sci-fi/fantasy book. Occasionally, I'll pick up a non-fiction book. I do like memoirs but don't get to those enough either. I always say I'm going to diversify my TBR list - and I do note down interesting looking books outside of contemporary - but when it comes to parting with my cold hard cash, I'll usually stick to the tried and tested. 

YA Addiction 

I read too much YA. I know you should read what you like but I'm sure I'd benefit from reading more 'adult fiction'. I try to read one YA, one adult/other book each week but more often than not this turns into two YA. 

Too Many New Friends 

I should take a leaf out of Drake's book and introduce a 'no new friends' rule into my reading habits for the next few months. I don't take enough time to re-read old favourites or books published more than two or three years ago. 

Not Enough Debut Love

Having said that, I seem to miss debut novel releases and catch up on them a year later. I noticed this when looking through my 2014 read list in preparation for YA Superlatives. If I didn't have this blog then fine, I could read whatever. However, even though I don't have masses of followers and such like, I feel obligated to champion a few debut authors because getting published for the first time should be celebrated! 

E-Book Blackouts

Summer Roberts had rage blackouts. I have E-book shopping blackouts. On Sunday nights, I seem to leave it to the last minute to update my Spotify playlists for the train and sort out my reading for the week. As a result, I hit Amazon, iBooks, and Nook and panic buy. Then I start reading one of my new purchases and think 'what the hell?!' This is why you should only buy books from your thoroughly researched TBR lists. 

Review Laziness

More often than not I'll highlight passages and make short notes whilst reading so that I can refer to them when I write the review. Except I usually don't end up writing the review. For example, I really want to discuss After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid and I Was Here by Gayle Forman but I just can't muster up the energy to write a proper review/discussion. When I get home, after spending all day looking at a screen, the last thing I want to do is type something else. It's terrible but on the plus side, you know that if I do post a review I probably really liked the book (or had some time off). 

Bookseller Pressure

When I go into a bookshop - especially if it's a smaller one - I usually feel obligated to buy something because bookshop employees are usually really, really lovely. I should know - I was one! A lot of the time they won't have the books on my TBR list, so I browse the shelves and end up with a handful of books that end up on my bottom shelf or in the basket by my bed for YEARS. I cleared out a lot of them the other day for donation. Terrible waste. 


This is one of the worst things about my reading habits. I don't support diverse books enough when I really, really should if I want my future children to see themselves reflected in the books they're reading. 

New Adult 

I love books featuring 20-somethings growing up and making their way in the world. After all, I'm in the same boat. I love books set in the college environment. I wanted to go to an American university soooo badly, so I'm all for those novels. However, I haven't really found many NA books that I've enjoyed. 

I think it just has something to do with the label. It seems as though these books are often set in college or just after college and feature a hapless gal who is usually some kind of musical prodigy/dancer/artist/all round clever clogs with side-swept bangs and green eyes and lots of off the shoulder tops. She then meets a 'bad boy' either in the sense that he has tattoos and growls everything he says or he's the star of a sports team and a player in both senses of the word. They dance around each other for half the book before they finally get together and the rest of the book is just them hooking up - or even getting engaged! Yes, I've read ones where this happens, it's crazy (to me anyway). Occasionally they have to help out a sick parent or a child or something equally 'noble' but that's usually a very small part of the plot. 

I don't like to rant but that's how I feel. Now, if you can point me to a book classed as New Adult that does not follow that formula, send the recommendations my way and I'll happily give it a go. 

Mini Reviews: Gods, Trains, Diplomats and Boarders

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Antigoddess & Mortal Gods (Goddess War Series) by Kendare Blake
I absolutely loved both of these books. They're definitely must reads for anyone who has even a passing interest in Greek mythology. I don't know how true to the canon the stories are - maybe a Classics scholar would wrinkle their nose at times - but I will happily sit through Troy every time it's on the telly, so I'm not exactly fussed about accuracy. All the usual suspects turn up at various points but in modern day form, which is a fun twist. They're all likeable and unlikeable, which keeps you reading. Except for Hermes - he's always likeable. The action scenes are fast and furious and the descriptions of their various ailments are well thought out. I can't wait for the next one! I wonder if the series is a trilogy or longer? 

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
I'm in the minority I think because I didn't really like this book but felt compelled to finish it after paying £6 for the Kindle version. As a rule, I don't usually spend more than £4-5 on a Kindle book unless it happens to be by one of my go to authors. Anyway, I got duped by the Gone Girl comparisons. I know, I know, I shouldn't pay attention to the marketing quotes but I'll admit, I was fooled. There just wan't enough intrigue for me. The story didn't hook me. When reading, I don't care if the characters are horrid but the actual story needs to be interesting. There weren't any surprises or twists and turns. I'm not a connoisseur of the thriller genre so I don't know if this style of writing is the norm but I think first person should be used for one character only. The three women all sounded the same to me. Overall, I was disappointed. 

All Fall Down (Embassy Row Series) by Ally Carter
The other day, TV critic AA Gill described the Scandinavian drama style as following a pattern of generally starting normally and ending with confusion, which builds and builds and isn't always resolved. This way, compared to the usual mystery/drama trope of a big event happening and working backwards, makes for more effective storytelling. I felt like this reading Ally Carter's latest. It starts off fairly innocuously - girl is visiting her grandfather in Europe after a few years apart - and ends...well, I won't spoilt the ending but I can say there are many questions posed and not many answers given. All Fall Down is definitely the most mature Ally Carter book I've read (I'm a big fan of Gallagher Girls and Heist Society) and it is more serious in tone. However, I love that her stories centre around such winning girls and romance doesn't usually play a huge part - although, of course, there's always a little bit. I also think the setting is really interesting. I always remember my mum pointing out diplomat cars at the airport and explaining what they do - I remember thinking that sounded like quite an interesting job.  I'm definitely looking forward to the next instalment of Embassy Row. 

The Ex-Games by Jennifer Echols
I was trying to review this for the YA Buccaneers Reading Mutiny Challenge but fell ill and never got around to putting pen to paper (and then typing it up - I always have to handwrite my reviews, do you?) This was a fun read - especially as we got some snow around the same time. It was what I've come to expect from Jennifer Echols' romantic comedies. I think I've liked - if not loved- everything I've read by Jennifer Echols'. She's definitely one of my said go-to authors. I liked that the group of friends were so close and there wasn't much drama between them. I think it's important to show fun and healthy friendships because lots of people have a good circle of friends in high school, particularly if you're in a smaller town. I also liked the banter between Hayden and her brother - they reminded me of the McGillicuddys in Endless Summer. Finally, I really enjoyed the sport aspect - I do like my sports YA and need to find some more! 

Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Monday, February 9, 2015

Publisher: Penguin
Format: Kindle e-book
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. . . . A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly? What’s indisputable is that someone is dead. But who did what? Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads: Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?). Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay. New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all. Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.
All I can say is I'm glad I don't have to navigate playground politics right now. Goodness me, this book was a riot! I absolutely loved it. Anyone who has read this blog before will know I like reading a gossip blog or two. This book appealed to that part of my nature - it was scandalous yet campy in tone.

Side note - I had no idea Liane Moriarty is the sister of Jaclyn Moriarty - one of my favourite YA writers EVER! When you know, you can pick out a shared sense of humour (well I think so anyway) but still, it was interesting to find out!

Anyway, I loved all of the characters in this book. Even the 'baddies' although, to be honest, they're all 'baddies' to a certain extent. This book is firmly set in the grey area - namely, how far will you go in the name of your child's wellbeing and reputation? How much of it is about the actual situation and how much of it is about you getting 'one up' on the other parents? How much of it is about your past school situation versus your child's? They say once a man, twice a child, generally referring to your senior days, however after reading this (and witnessing similar situations in real life) I'd be more inclined to say this childlike state might occur again sooner rather than later.

You can instantly recognise all of the characters. We all know a Madeline and a Renata and a Harper (oh how we all know a Harper). I hate to say it but I think I might be a Renata...however, I don't have kids yet so we'll see when the time comes! Hopefully I'm not a Harper. Oh Lord, please don't let me be a Harper.

However, the best thing about this book is the humour. It really is very funny at times. There are some great one-liners - usually from Madeleine - and coupled with the tight and well planned lot that zigs when you want to zag, it's a zinger of a read. I'm not surprised it has been picked up by Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman for a television adaptation. I think it will do what The Slap wanted to do (well, I didn't like the book or the show so maybe I'm biased. Perhaps it was a hit but I don't think so...). I hope they keep it set in Australia though - a lot of the humour was cultural, I think.

Definitely give this a go. You won't be disappointed!