Book Review: Truth or Dare by Non Pratt

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“Judge people on what they have control over. Judge them on the way they treat their friends, or whether they persevere when they can’t do something… Be careful not to confuse a beautiful face with a beautiful heart”. 

This book was kindly sent to me by Walker Books, but this has no impact on my review!

When ‘Truth or Dare’ slid through my letterbox and into my hands I have to admit I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t really know anything about the plot and I’ve never actually read any of Non Pratt’s other works (much to the dismay of my friend Jasmine who convinced me to buy Trouble, which I have only read one chapter of!) So seeing as I had some free time and a new book I thought I’d dive in blind – and boy, was it worth it! I read it in just a handful of days because it was so addictive; never was there a moment of boredom and I just thoroughly enjoyed it!

‘Truth or Dare’ is a contemporary YA novel that deals with family, friendship, and love – but really that doesn’t even scratch the surface.

Continue reading

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Book Review: One – Sarah Crossan

Here’s a quick review of One by Sarah Crossan; a Contemporary YA novel written in verse! I really enjoyed reading this book despite the intensity of the plot. Crossan takes on a really interesting subject matter and presents it in a unique and stylish way. Have you read One? Let me know what you thought of it in the comments!

I wanted to take a bit of a spin on my usual Book Reviews and I have to admit I’ve really enjoyed being a bit more creative with my videos here and on my YouTube Channel.          Be sure to let me know what you think of it and if I should do more like!

An Explanation & My Top 5 TBR

 

I thought you deserved a bit of an explanation regarding my sort-of withdrawal from blogging, reading and the like. However as I also wanted to share with you the 5 books that I’m super excited to read and have been helping me to persevere through school recently, this mashup video was born! Also to everybody going through exams of any kind at the moment, keep doing what you’re doing and I wish you all the best!

This video is a little bit different to my normal ones so please let me know what you think by commenting, liking, or let me know via Twitter!

Mini Monday Review #10

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The Next Together by Lauren James

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“I think there are no true heroes. Only people who ignore their survival instincts long enough to do something incredibly foolhardy”

I have to start by saying that I definitely have enough to say about this book to fill a full review but seeing as this was my bookclubs’ second read I thought I’d link to our discussion video here! We covered everything so beware, it’s full of spoilers!

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Onto the review! I really really enjoyed this book; it’s a reincarnation romance which also includes comedy, mystery and historical fiction. Despite all these genres being incredibly different Lauren makes them work together so fabulously! This, along with the seamless transitions between the different time periods, makes this story so effective. There are a lot of incredibly emotional and swoon-worthy scenes so the humour that’s added in for some light relief is really appreciated. It’s nice to have a bit of a laugh after a war is announced in 1746 or the big secret is revealed in 1845! The writing in this book is consistently excellent and relatable.

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There aren’t really a huge number of characters in this book; Katherine and Matthew are the focalisers in this story. Lauren has a really wonderful balance between continuous traits in each character and new ones. If they had been the exact same in each time period it would’ve become very tedious very quickly whereas if they were always totally different it would have been impossible to keep up! However in terms of the plot I would have liked it to differ a bit more. Each time period followed a similar plot line and it was easy to predict what was about to happen which for some isn’t necessarily a bad thing but personally I love to be really shocked. That and the fact that insta-love – which you would expect in a  reincarnation romance – is generally something that I’m not a big fan of are my only criticisms, and honestly both are really just personal preferences!

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 I have to briefly mention the ending: WOW! Such a unexpected twist. Everything changes in the last few pages and there are so many questions raised that I am quite upset that I have to wait until November 2016 for the next book: The Last Beginning.

Why everybody should be reading Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne

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Am I Normal Yet? is a YA Contemporary novel about Evie, a sixteen year old girl suffering with OCD, trying to get through her first year at college, get off her medication, and lead a “normal” life. Already sounds like a great book tackling serious topics, right? Well add to that the incredible themes of feminism and friendship and you get one unbelievable story: that’s Am I Normal Yet? in a nutshell.

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With three main characters – Evie, Amber and Lottie – each having very unique and relatable traits it’s extremely difficult to NOT love them all. Despite this book being the first in a trilogy with each book focusing on each of these three fabulous individuals, this book manages to delve into enough depth so that it doesn’t feel that way at all. You really care for them! The girls are such good friends, they are so close and supportive of each other whilst retaining the right amount of secrets and small arguments to emulate a real friendship. Their mutual belief and love for feminism is so wonderful. Am I Normal Yet? acts as both a ‘Welcome Brochure’ and ‘Guide Book’ to feminism; this is probably the main reason everybody should read this fantastic book. The characters explore everything to do with feminism from sexism in the english language to the Bechdel Test! Why would you not want to read about that?!

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Holly Bourne uses structure in such a distinctive way which works brilliantly well regarding the subject of OCD. Often people are unaware of the ‘compulsions’ and so by interrupting the flow of narrative it really feels like you’re in the head of Evie, which is really powerful! Also the way the storyline breaks up every now and then in order for the reader to follow Evie’s trail of thought a bit better is effective as well as amusing – although admittedly it isn’t to everybody’s taste.

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This book encompasses so much; friendship, mental health, feminism, humour, and emotion. A whole lot of emotion! Evie’s voice is so easy to relate to and the descriptions are amazing. This book has so much to say and it says it all so well; it never feels like you’re being force-fed all of these truths. Of course it isn’t perfect, because nothing is, but this certainly comes quite close in my opinion.

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“Everyone’s on the cliff edge of normal. Everyone finds life an utter nightmare sometimes, and there’s no ‘normal’ way of dealing with it… There is no normal.”

This book was the first read for my online book club UKYA in the Rain. You can watch our discussion for it here!

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Mini Monday Review #8

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If you’ve been reading my blog for a while (or happened to have stalked my posts at some point) then you’ll know that I am a HUGE fan of Web Series, and recently I stumbled upon Social Medium! This intriguing web show all about Beatrix Beckett, a physic who can communicate with the other side through gadgets, gizmos and social media, instantly caught my eye. Little did I know that later that day I would be able to say I had binge-watched the Origin Story, Season One and along the way found an absolute new favourite series.

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The videos are all fairly short – making binge-watching a breeze! – yet each one still manages to pack a punch. They’re uploaded in a very unique way; each episode is made up of a number of different parts which are all different videos. By doing this the creators are able to make the most effective, brilliant and frustrating cliff-hangers! But what I love most about this show is it’s humour. It’s quite subtle but has yet to fail to make me smile with it’s interesting and bizarre stories  of ‘Match.com demons’ and ‘Soul eating sirens’! Beatrix herself is just the sweetest and is so passionate about ghost hunting, it’s really lovely to watch. However for me the character of Zola, Beatrix’s sarcastic cyber-genius best friend, stands out the most. Played by the fabulous Kate Hackett  (who stars in one of my other all-time favourite web series) her skepticism, wit and references – “What is the air velocity of an unladen swallow?” – are just incredible and add so much to the show!

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A huge thumbs up to Brian Newlin for fantastic stories and scripts; I love how there are various different cases going on but one big mystery – involving cupcakes, who’d have guessed that?! – running through the entirety. I can’t wait to see more, I will be sat here desperately waiting  for the big reveal! I highly recommend checking this series out if you love ghosts, ghouls and things that go bump in the night!

UKYA In the Rain: Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne

This is UKYA in the Rain’s first meeting in which we discuss Holly Bourne’s Am I Normal Yet?  We talk about the fabulous book, feminism, mental health and a whole bunch of other random things!

Next time there will be more people joining the discussion, and you can too!
To find out more about the book club you can click on the ‘Book Club: UKYA in the Rain‘ page above!

Check out the wonderful Kiara at her (amazing) Instagram and blog, A Nerd and her Books!

Mini Monday Review #7

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Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick

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Dangerous Lies follows Stella Gorden, recently put into witness protection. You watch her as she tries to deal with her new shadow of danger and tries to cope with the aspects of her new life, including the handsome cowboy-next-door Chet. Only problem is that in my opinion there’s only so much coping that can be explored in a book before it gets boring. The plot felt quite lacking; particularly around the antagonist Danny Balando and his “vicious thugs”. They were pretty much absent until the very last pages! I went into this book expecting a thriller and got a romance in the end. However the romance was done exceptionally. It was just so cute ! And thankfully there was just enough realism along side the adorableness  for me. This is the same for the characters. To me Stella was a bit annoying, but that made her more real. And don’t get me started on Carmina, Stella’s “foster mom”. She was by far the best character; so caring and independent at the same time, a wonderful mother and a kick-butt detective!

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I overall enjoyed Fitzpatrick’s writing style; it was a great balance between easy reading and gripping ‘WHAT-HAPPENS-NEXT’.  But in my opinion it was a little inconsistent, sometimes I had to keep turning pages because it was either so sweet or so shocking but at some points I really struggled to keep going, but I think that has more to do with personal preference than anything else. The ending is definitely the best bit, there are some incredible twists and really edge-of-your-seat moments. Oh and of course there’s a brilliantly romantic scene thrown in there too! This last section just stood out to me, I wish it had been a little bit longer. 

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And I have to mention some of the themes the book explored, they were really lovely. Fitzpatrick looks at family and more importantly what it means to be a family. Stella goes through so much and is so unhappy at times but from that she found her own family and her own happy ending. Really it’s all about hope I guess, leading you forward.

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Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick is published 10th of November, 2015.

Mini Monday Review #6

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Eeny Meeny by M. J. Arlidge 

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“There are countless moments in the average life when you have to decide whether to open yourself up or bury yourself deep. In love, at work, among your family, with friends, there are moments when you have to decide whether you are ready to reveal your true self.”

Whilst I was reading this book I absolutely adored it! I raced through it so quickly as I just had to know what was going to happen. However looking back I definitely have some issues with it.  The predominant being the characters, or more precisely the excess of characters. The main crime involves (don’t worry this isn’t a spoiler) kidnapping two people, trapping them without food or water and leaving a gun with one bullet as their only hope of escaping; due to this there are a lot of characters. Each pair get their own little story and there were quite a few pairs. Add to that all the members on the police force such as DI Helen Grace and Mark Fuller and then also a couple of family members, friends and journalists like Charlie Brooks and you’re going to find yourself a little lost. The reason this didn’t really work was that in a crime thriller the pace is quick,  you don’t have enough time to get attached and so often you’re not as horrified by some of the pretty horrific things that take place.

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The story in itself is very enjoyable. Ignoring all the deviations due to the mass of characters the plot was intense and gripping. The crimes that took place were truly horrible to read – that’s a good thing! –  and for the most part it was a really clever read! M.J. Arlidge makes spectacular use of deception, there’s a particular ‘thing’ that is purposefully misleading and it was brilliant when it was finally revealed.  It had a really good pace and you’re not spoon-fed clues which in my own opinion is a bonus. The writing style was consistent and enthralling, the chapters are very short and tend to switch POV which ,depending on how they were done or who it was talking,  could be both highly entertaining or plain irritating.

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Despite the surplus of characters and minor inconsistencies I really did enjoy this book. I would recommend it to crime thriller lovers as long as they’re not particularly squeamish as this is definitely ‘dark and twisted’! It might not be the best book you ever read but it’ll certainly be a lot of fun!

Book Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

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“Not everyone has to be the guy who saves the world. Most people just have to live their lives the best they can, doing things that are great for them, having great friends, trying to make their lives better, loving people properly.”

I read More Than This by Patrick Ness last Autumn and instantly fell in love with his writing style; the way he uses words, his choice of words, his  wonderful use of punctuation and structure. I remember finishing it and just sitting there in awe. Since then I’ve been desperate to get my hands on his other work. Somehow it’s taken me up till two weeks ago to do so when I bought  The Rest Of Us Just Live Here. After finishing this book I was reminded of all the reasons I adored (and continue to adore)  Ness’ style.  I seriously need to get my hands on the Chaos Walking Trilogy!

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This book is based on the  concept of not being the chosen one but instead being the people trying to get on with their lives whilst hoping that nobody blows up the school – ‘again’.  This idea is so unique and was executed very well. With the book being based around the more mundane life it could have easily slipped into becoming very dull and slow. But fortunately it didn’t! In fact it was quite the opposite. The plot isn’t action driven, the focus is on the characters and their development. However the reader is still kept in the loop with the plot of the chosen one via the chapter titles. Each one stated the number of the chapter (e.g. Chapter The First) and then a quick summary of what’s happening to the ‘Indie Kids’. The actions of these Indie Kids does affect the characters that we follow and so without these short rundowns  a lot of things going on in the book would have made no sense whatsoever, and so was a very clever and entertaining thing to do.

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As said before this book is highly character driven. Our protagonist Mikey suffers from OCD and has been in love with one of his best friends, Henna, but has never told her how he felt. The story follows the relationships between Mikey and his friends during their final year of school and how they alter due to the mystery provided by the Invasion of the Immortals. Mikey was a brilliant character to read, he was so flawed. He was suspicious, jealous and doubted himself all the time but then he was also fiercely caring and could be hilarious. Similarly all the characters had their own issues making them developed and realistic. Jared – Mikey’s gay best friend –  was probably my favourite character. As quarter-god (of cats) Jared shows the most protective nature towards lives of mountain lions, cats, and mostly his friends. He understands what Mikey is going through and whenever he can will try to help him. But he also provided some mystery to the novel, he’s a bit of an enigma; with secretive Saturday nights out and a general inability to pin-point what exactly it is he wants. Jared was a brilliant addition to their mismatched friend group.

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There was an amusing tone that ran throughout the book caused by the normality of such abnormal things. Vampires? Soul Eating Ghosts? Quarter-god best friends? It’s all commonplace.  This reminded me slightly of Welcome To Night Vale and is something I find really enjoyable. Nevertheless the tone could switch from light-hearted to serious very quickly. But whichever mood Ness was writing in he did incredibly well; funny at some points and sombre in others.

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Overall a really interesting idea carried out brilliantly, with characters who felt more like friends than anything else.