Sunday, 27 April 2014

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

Title: Monument 14
Author: Emmy Laybourne
Published by: Hachette
Publication date: 4th April 2013
Pages: 342
Genres: YA/Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopian
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought.

Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong...

Fourteen kids stranded inside a superstore. Inside they have everything they could ever need. There's junk food and clothes, computer games and books, drugs and alcohol... and without adult supervision they can do whatever they want.

Sounds like fun?

But outside the world is being ripped apart by violent storms and chemicals leaking into the atmosphere that, depending on blood type, leave victims paranoid, violent or dead.

The kids must remain inside, forced to create their own community, unsure if they'll ever be able to leave. Can they stop the world they've created inside from self-destructing too?

Professionalism is going straight out of the window for this review.

I'm not ashamed to admit that the main reason I wanted to read Monument 14 was because it's about kids/teens trapped in a supermarket. That used to be one of my childhood fantasies...imagine the food you could eat, the books you could read, the endless supply of phones and tablets you could play on... Come on. I can't be the only one who thinks that would be an awesome situation to be in. Don't pretend you don't think that would be fun because it totally would be. Hello?! UNSUPERVISED USE OF THE BAKERY AISLE. However, the circumstances for them being trapped in the supermarket were not all fun and games. After a freak hailstorm and several deaths, we're thrown into more action-packed and suspenseful situations as harmful chemicals are released into the atmosphere, and everyone has to try and protect themselves, their new community, and their new 'home.'

I have a theory that this book was written as if it's the main character Dean writing in the journal he took as soon as he entered the store. I could be wrong, maybe I missed something, but that's how it seemed to me, and I think it was implied, too. I'm just saying this because a few people have said they were irritated by the author constantly trying to remind us of things that had happened before as if we couldn't work that out ourselves, but if you think that it was Dean writing the story for his own personal record, it makes more sense that he would write like that. It's conversational. Different to the style of books I usually read, but it really didn't bother me.

Two of the characters I respected most were Dean and Sahalia, because neither of them really conformed to the rules of society, and they were both ridiculed because of it. I especially respected Sahalia and thought of her as a very important character because her want to become considered a 'grown-up' got her into a couple of bad situations, and it spotlighted the pressures young girls feel sometimes to be noticed.

The descriptions in this book, oh my fudge. I just wanted to hug the book. And then I wanted to hug it even more when I discovered the dry sense of humour that Dean had. "There I saw Chloe, freshly bathed, wrapped in a towel, eating fun-size Butterfingers one after another like a chain smoker and watching me like I was her soap opera." I don't know why that made me laugh so much but it did, probably because of the hilarious image it produced in my mind. "I gathered that the girls thought he looked rugged and dangerous. I gathered this because every time he was around they'd twitter and preen in a way that sort of made me hate everyone." It's also very relatable, as you can see from the second quote.

While being funny and exciting, it also made me think. Monument 14 is set in 2024 which is only ten years from now, and it's scarily realistic. I couldn't help but think that the events which happened in the book could easily happen in our lifetime. Surely it wouldn't be that difficult for our government to accidentally release some crazily dangerous chemical into our atmosphere.

I haven't had fun reading a book for a long time. I've read good books, but they're not always fun to read. This, however, certainly was. As soon as I flipped the last page, I grabbed the laptop and ordered the second book. So what if I spent money I didn't yet have, I needed to read the next book. I am so excited to read the second book - thank goodness for Amazon's next day delivery! Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go and let out a stream of capital letters somewhere in the depths of the Internet. I don't want to bore you with my full-fangirl mode here...
Wednesday, 23 April 2014

SURVEY RESULTS: What do you think of the book blogging community?

A little while ago I conducted a survey in which I asked you, whether you're a blogger or someone else, what you think of the book blogging community. If you answered my questions then thank you! I received some really thought-provoking answers and it seems I'm not the only one who feels that the community has gone downhill. As promised in my previous post, here are the results.

There were 64 responses.

"I legit love the community but I completely agree, it is growing increasingly bitter as of late. The drama, the jealously, the complaints, the nitpicking ... I ignore the majority of it but I'm sure it doesn't reflect positively on the community as a whole." 
"I haven't seen much of the 'community' aspect, to be honest. I comment on a lot of blogs, and happily and willingly do so, but it's a little disheartening to see that no-one (including you) check out mine. I know it's not something I should expect, but I know that courtesy demands it sometimes. I think that unless you have a big reading base, you're a nobody. And that sucks."
The thing is, commenting on blogs doesn't mean the bloggers are going to automatically come to your blog, and this is something I discussed in a post a while ago. I understand it must be disheartening - trust me, I've been there! - but there are other ways you can attract people to your blog, and the fact that you're taking the time to comment on other blogs is a really nice thing to do! I don't know who you are because this survey was anonymous, but if that's you then let me know. Just because I don't comment often doesn't mean I'm not reading your blog! :)
"I love it mostly... but then there's all the plagiarism, jealously etc and it just bugs me. If I have a bad day I look to the community to maybe cheer me up a bit. A lot of the time, this happens and is awesome. But then other times, I see someone be mean, and I just have to turn away :("
"I love it and it's mostly always a really nice place. Though I have seen plagiarism and competitiveness which I don't really understand!"
"I love being part of the book blogging community. But I know I feel a bit cut off from everyone else and I feel this may be because I don't have as many followers as everyone else. There are bloggers that have been lovely, like you. But some have really made me feel left out several times."
"Most of the people I talk to are very nice. I like everyone and I have no problem. Of course, deep inside I get a bit jealous like damn I wish I had that ARC, but I won't tell them of course. I'm glad they received it and I will definitely check out their review on the blog. I look up to some big bloggers of course."
"As a whole, I think it's a wonderful place. However, there are a couple of handfuls of people who cast a negative light upon it. Like you said, blogger jealousy is a huge deal to some people, and it really messes with the happy atmosphere on Twitter. I've started to unfollow people who cause or shout about drama, because I just can't be bothered with it. Same goes for those who complain about people who comment on their blog, for whatever reason, and people who complain about other people receiving ARCs that they didn't. I find some people's attitudes to be very childish and they also come across as spoiled and entitled. But, like I said, I love the book blogging community as a whole, and I have met some of the best people. It's just a shame that the minority sometimes overshadow those who are awesome."
"Your right, it's bitter and it's good someone finally did a post on it. The community can be nice but it can also be quite mean..."
"Like any large community, there is a great deal of positive aspects with a smaller percentage of negatives. I think we should continue to have conversations about negativity but not overly focus on it."
You're right, and I hope no one thinks I was overly focusing on the negativity. It's become so bad, from what I've seen, that I felt something needed to be said. And I'm balancing the negativity with my blog notes project, so it's cool, right?... ;D
"I've become discouraged with the blogging community. I find it hard to interact with the other bloggers who've been blogging for so much longer. I don't really know... This community doesn't seem like one giant supportive family is all."
I know what you mean. Bloggers who have been blogging for a really long time seem intimidating, and it does feel like they're in a whole other league. Even I feel a bit intimidated by long-time bloggers sometimes and I've been blogging for ages! But maybe that's just me being socially awkward. xD
"I adore it. But I agree that too many people are trying to 'run' the community and act as though they are the most important one."
"I started my blog 9 months ago. Most book bloggers (basing on Twitter which I use most) are lovely and supportive with re-tweeting my reviews and interacting etc. There are a few (mostly more experienced bloggers) who are a little bitchy and whiny about people copying ideas, posting reviews too early etc.  There are only so many variations on a blog and no-one owns an idea!  I would never knowingly copy somebody but it annoys me that there is so much bad feeling and spiteful comments around."
For me, this was one of the most thought-provoking answers. If someone's copying your ideas, it's not good to be bitchy but if someone took something you'd been working on, you wouldn't be all happiness and rainbows. I too have seen people telling others when to post reviews. Post them whenever you want! It's your blog. Unless you have a deadline or blog tour or something where you have to post it on a certain day, I don't see why anyone would get irritated over someone posting a review too early or too late.
 "I love the book blogging community, I seriously don't know where I'd be without it."
"I see the connections and bonds people form over twitter and other blogs, I just wish I could be a part of that too. I have followers, but no one ever participates or responds to my posts/tweets."
"I like it in general, I just wish people would be less confrontational and not gossip about others in public places where they know the subject can find it and probably will. That just seems mean."
Oh, do I relate to this! Not long after I published the survey on my blog, I switched over to Twitter and there was a group of bloggers saying quite rude things about it. Ironic, but I let it go. *cue music from Frozen*
"It's fantastic! But I agree there is a lot of competitiveness and showing off especially about ARCs and book hauls. When did book 'hauling' become a thing, anyway? None of us grew up going to the library to bring back a 'haul'! It completely strips reading for fun of its value. It turns it into a competition that can really affect the self-esteem and confidence of other bloggers who /don't/ receive huge stacks of ARCs from publishers every week. It's the same with vlogging as well, where everyone is constantly plugging their videos trying to beat each other to subscriber milestones."
I hadn't really thought about book hauls being a negative part of the community but I guess they could be seen that way. Another interesting answer, thank you! I love seeing different perspectives. All of the people I've previously spoken to love book hauls, whether they're blog posts or videos. I've never seen book hauls as showing off, but more of 'Hey, I got this book, did you? You did? Let's buddy read!'

*raises hand* Subscriber counts of other channels made my confidence plummet a few months ago, but I'm over it. I don't think numbers should define a person. Just have fun with whatever you're doing. :)
"I am fairly new to book blogging, only in the last month I have started reading the Mile Long Bookshelf, I found out about you on Cathy Cassidy's Dreamcatcher blog. I enjoy reading the comments on your blog and Dreamcatcher since everyone seems friendly and supportive. I really enjoy the book blogging community as it has helped books become part of my life again and the hobby I love again as I was finding it hard to fit reading in around my endless schoolwork! I'm so glad I discovered the Mile Long Bookshelf!!"
*hugs* *gives you imaginary cookies* Thank you! You have no idea how happy it makes me that the book blogging community has helped books to become part of your life again, and it's so good that you've found such a friendly and supportive group of people. I love Cathy's blog too!
"I think it used to be friendlier, but with the influx of people writing reviews on Goodreads that tear apart the author instead of critiquing the book, it's become a place authors may be scared to venture into. I've seen things like reviewers ripping off other people's reviews and publishing them as their own, then those people who stole content remain popular and I just don't understand that. If you don't have time to review 5 books a week, just don't. It's simple."
Yes! If you can't read all of your review books, don't worry about it. You NEVER need to resort to plagiarism. Chill out and maybe cut back on the amount of books you request (which is hard, I know!) And you should never rip an author's reputation to shreds. You didn't like their book. Move on and read a different one.
"I love it. It is my happy place. Sure there is some animosity, but this is a large community and it is bound to happen when this many people have an interest. It doesn't bother me at all. If something annoys me, I walk away from it and do something else. My best friends are bloggers and people say nasty crap about us all the time. I've learned to ignore it."
"I think that it's not a new thing for the book blogging community to be very bitter. I've had a book blog for almost 10 years now; the community has always been cliquey and there has always been some kind of drama or other in the community. It seems to come and go in huge waves - at times everyone will love each other, at other times they will be super competitive and be ganging up on other bloggers. Maybe I just feel this because I have always been on the outside of the community, but I've always seen some drama in the community, and don't find it more visible now than it was previously."
Woah, ten years! An amazing achievement. Now you mention it, it does seem to come and go in waves.
"cliq-ish and I find it weird that the book blogging community seems to write their blog posts at other bloggers you would think you would be aiming for the blog reader not blog writer."
I have noticed that book blogs tend to speak to other book blogs - mine included - and there doesn't seem to be much content aimed at non-bloggers. Then again, if you look at my survey results, only 4 non-bloggers responded. Maybe other blog audiences are mostly other bloggers too. I am going to try to post more for non-bloggers, anyway.
"I really hate it right now. I feel like all/most book bloggers are out for themselves and are so stuck up their own a** that they turn into monstrous demons. It seems like the people that don't get involved with the community at all are the better, more genuine bloggers.
There are a lot of cliques within the book blogging community: the older bloggers, the teen bloggers, the UK bloggers, the YA bloggers. A lot of the time it seems like these cliques stick to themselves, and there's nothing wrong with that. I just wish this supposed 'community' acted like an actual community, not like what seems like a divided group.
From my perspective, there are often times when I notice book bloggers who are up on their high horses and think they're better than everyone else; too good to reply to your tweet; too busy to answer your question; too professional to even notice you. It's intimidating. Should the book blogger community be an intimidating place? No. We talk about books, for God's sakes.
Why are the smaller bloggers with less followers looked down upon by some of the bigger, more established bloggers?
Then there's the plagiarisers, the ones who are are doing it for the free books, the non-genuine blogger. But that's a whole other story...
I just really hate the book blogging community right now. The fake enthusiasm on Twitter. The fake personalities. The fake community."
This was the other response which really got my attention. The 'cliques' have been mentioned a few times in this post now and I have to agree. This is book blogging. We're a massive community with a shared love of one thing: reading. Obviously there are various little friendship groups within the community which is fine and completely natural, but there really is no need for cliques.

Yes, I have noticed there are bloggers who don't reply to tweets. If someone takes the time out of their day to tweet me something, whether it's a question, a compliment, or even criticism, I will acknowledge it, and I'm sure most do the same. You could argue that it takes too long to reply to tweets, but it only takes a few seconds. As for the plagiarists being a whole other you mean this one? ;)

I'd just like to add that, as simple as it sounds, we need to remember there are actual people behind blogs. People with feelings. And when most of us only talk to each other online, things can get interpreted the wrong way.
"I think you're right. I believe we, as a community have gotten very jealous and competitive and needs to stop. Blogging is for fun, for the love of books. We need to embrace that, not throw it away."
"I love it! I stay out of any arguments that I see (which to be honest is very rare!) so it's great! I love that I can just talk about books all day long with other people who a) know what I'm talking about, unlike any of my IRL friends, and b) actually want to hear it and won't judge me for it :)"
"I don't really think it is a community. I joined book blogging thinking that it would be a community where we could all be able to talk to each other, instead I'm faced with huge cliques of people which really sucks."
"Yes. I was 'blog shamed' recently when I forgot to put a spoiler alert up  for a book in a review... The other blogger wrote a whole post aimed at me which I thought was pretty ridiculous."
"Some people have seemed a bit fake, but I haven't had a specific rough experience (as of yet)."
"There has been times of annoyance and obnoxiousness but other than that, no."
"Yes, both when I was a newbie and now."
"Most people have been lovely, but there are some who have made me feel like I don't belong in the community. There are some who I've tried to talk to and I feel I've been nice to them but they have acted coldly towards me."
"Yes - I've had a bit of a tiff with one blogger on and off for months and we've had spats in the past over various things. Other people I know seem to have a problem with the same blogger so maybe it's not just me."
"Yes, only one person. I was actually a good friend of theirs until they started accusing me of things, and they basically wanted me to get down on my knees and beg to stroke their ego. I didn't, and they haven't spoken to me since. But I think I'm better off for it, I don't need those kinds of people in my life."
"Not to me personally but I've seen friends get down with other bloggers telling them when to post reviews and demanding to know why they are on certain blog tours."
"There are definitely a couple or so of more 'successful'! bloggers who rarely interact with me on Twitter, no matter how friendly I try to be.  One in particular seems to be happier sucking up to authors and publishers than interacting with fellow bloggers.  I now just ignore them.  I find it's generally the newbie bloggers are that the most supportive.  It seems that the more experienced ones seem to regard us newbies as competition which is a shame. There is more than enough room in the book world for all of us!"
"Nobody has been directly off with me but my time line on twitter has lately been full of rants or woe is me talk - not wanting to generalise it does tend to be from the younger bloggers.  Very sad to read - often want to say 'grow up and get over it' but don't.  We're all blogging about the same thing, our love of books, so there is bound to be some cross over of ideas!  I've blogged off and on for several years but only started book blogging late last year, never come across this bickering before."
"Slightly, but not as much as what some people have experienced. I just need to point out that many of us blog to escape school, read to escape other people IN SCHOOL, so why turn the blogging community into a hateful classroom of sorts."
"Yes I have come across some bloggers who are just straight up rude and malicious, mostly on goodreads too. And when you visit their blogs they have less than a 100 members and zero comments on anything they post and they bitch about it. Well, if you're unprofessional and think its entertaining to put others down, then of course no one will want to associate themselves with your blog or even on social media. It's very hurtful to tell authors that they should go kill themselves and never write again. Reviews are subjective and criticism should be constructive. If you didn't like a book, say why, but keep that respect in your opinion. As a fellow blogger, I pride myself in writing reviews that don't tear down the author even when I didn't enjoy the book. You just never know how your words will affect someone."
"I've witnessed some bitchiness and jealousy especially when some have gotten books before others or gotten some type of privilege and also known some bloggers make posts about other bloggers trying to provoke people into slating each other. People need to remember that we are not children and don't need to act like children in a playground."
"I find that this year commenting as a whole seems to be a big deal to a lot of bloggers. It seems like a large number of bloggers has made this new rule of "I'm not going to stress out about commenting". Which is completely fine, and I agree that you shouldn't stress out about commenting however a large part of the community is interaction and if that ceases in the form of comments to one and others blogs, where is the community? I am proud of the fact that I comment on at least 25 posts a week in addition to returning and replying comments on my blog, and I enjoy when others do the same however there are bloggers (and for the large part... they are normally bloggers are get a TON of comments, over 20 on each post) that will never, ever return a comment or even reply. It's sad really."
"Thanks for adding positivity into the book blogging world!"
"This is a great place on the internet. But this is a place where we are all here because we like books. I know I'm here because this is a place where I'm not bullied or teased for liking books. But this isn't a place where people should have to feel uncomfortable due to competitiveness or simply because they get more comments and more followers."
"I love the blog notes project you're doing - such a good thing!"
"I completely agree with your whole post xxx"
"I think a lot of us still are the happy and supportive community you remember, we just need to remember that public places like Twitter are public and not the best place to rant about issues with other bloggers since it just continues bad feelings."
"The blog notes project is an AMAZING way to get the book blogging community closer!"
"Thanks for creating the survey - it's about time someone was brave enough to raise these issues."
"Goodreads is a whole other issue! Bloggers on there can get craaaazy."
"I joined book blogging thinking that it would be a community where we could all be able to talk to each other, instead I'm faced with huge cliques of people which really sucks."
Apologies for the looooong post, but there were a lot of thoughtful responses and I wanted to include as many as possible. If you don't see your answer here, it will be because it was very similar to what someone else had said already. Anyway, I hope you found that interesting - I certainly did! If you took part in the survey, thank you for taking the time to include your thoughts. I think making the survey anonymous really helped people to say what they really thought and I found it fascinating to see everyone's different opinions.

EDITED TO ADD: I will be doing a similar survey soon but it will be about what people love about our community. This post ended up being way more depressing than I thought it would, so I feel like sprinkling some happy back onto the blog.

As those in Candor would say: "Thank you for your honesty." Oh yes, I managed to get a book reference in here. *victory dance*

What do you think? Is there anything you would like to add? Have your say in the comments below!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Trouble by Non Pratt

Title: Trouble
Author: Non Pratt
Published by: Walker Books
Publication date: 6th March 2014
Pages: 381
Genres: Young Adult/Contemporary/Coming of age
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Hannah is smart and funny. She's also fifteen and pregnant.

Aaron is the new boy at school. He doesn't want to attract attention.

So why does Aaron offer to be the pretend dad to Hannah's unborn baby?

Growing up can be trouble but that's how you find out what really matters.

After three weeks of not reading even a single page from a book, I was seriously fed up. I was two books behind schedule on the Goodreads challenge, and my TBR pile was getting taller and taller. I couldn't even remember the last time I had written a review. Luckily, everything changed at the end of the third week of my reading slump: a copy of Trouble by Non Pratt arrived from the publisher. If you don't live in a far, far away place, where there is no civilisation or Wi-Fi, you'll know that Trouble has received an endless amount of reviews full of shining praise and pleas for the author to write another book, like, now. 

I have decided that Trouble is the perfect book for making a reading slump vanish. However, there are two things that really undermined the book as a whole. According to my blog stats, most of my readers are female, so try to imagine you're a fifteen-year-old boy. You move to a new school in a new area. A random girl flits on to your radar and you make small talk a couple of times but that's it. Then you find out she's pregnant and the father of the baby isn't interested. Would you instantly offer to be the fake father to her baby? No? I didn't think so, but that's exactly what Aaron does for Hannah. Aaron's parents happily agree that he can be the fake father to the unborn child of a fifteen-year-old girl he's just met, and they agree that Hannah's parents don't need to know. Sure, the moments between Hannah and Aaron were sweet, but the rest of this book is so realistic and, even though this is a big part of the main plot, I think it was extremely unbelievable. This really let the whole book down.

Another thing which irked me was when Hannah finally told her parents the father of the baby was her step-brother - yeah, I know, but that's not what annoyed me. When writing a book about teenage pregnancy and the book is aimed at teenagers, surely there should be some truth that the reader can take away from it. Neither parent mentioned that their son had raped his underage step-sister. They were angry, sure, but they just accepted it.

Most pregnant fifteen-year-old girls would be terrified at the prospect of having a baby so early, yet the amount of times Hannah actually showed anxiety and stress towards this throughout the book could be counted on one hand. She mostly focused on those who were trying to expose her secrets instead of that thing which just so happened to be steadily growing inside of her. I get that we're all different but I feel like Hannah's character could have been developed a lot more.

I do think a second book perhaps from Aaron's point of view would be good. There were a few sub-plots to do with Aaron which petered out towards the end, and I'd really like those strings to be tied. Despite the points of the book I didn't like or agree with, Trouble is a good book. It's entertaining, heart-warming, and funny. A lot of teenagers will be able to relate to this, and I do recommend you read it if you're after a sparkling contemporary with a fresh voice.
Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Title: Insurgent
Author: Veronica Roth
Published by: Harper Collins
Publication date: 1st May 2012
Pages: 525
Genres: Young Adult/Dystopian/Romance/Thriller
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

I have done bad things. I can't take them back, and they are part of who I am.

Tris has survived a brutal attack on her former home and family. But she has paid a terrible price. Wracked by grief and guilt, she becomes ever more reckless as she struggles to accept her new future.

Yet if Tris wants to uncover the truth about her world, she must be stronger than ever...because more shocking choices and sacrifices lie ahead.

Insurgent starts right where Divergent left off, and for the second time we're thrown straight into the socially divided city of Chicago as everyone turns to or against each other. The world is chaos, and there's no telling what will be around the next corner or on the next page. Dealing with an immense amount of guilt over the death of her parents and best friend Will, Tris is spiralling out of control. She is constantly putting her life on the line, and most of the time even Tobias can't do anything to stop her. Insurgent is about consequences, and how far you would go to save someone you love...or hate.

Like Divergent, I found this to have a very slow start, but the ball was soon rolling and I flew through Insurgent. When I attended the Divergent movie premiere in London I had only read the first book in the trilogy, so I decided to start reading this. Admittedly I was reluctant because Divergent makes a good standalone and I was worried about Insurgent having read a few negative reviews, but I gave it a go and I'm glad I did! Now I'm crossing my fingers I get to go to the Insurgent premiere too because a) it was the best day of my life and b) I have become more than a little obsessed with the entire trilogy, film, soundtrack and cast. I need professional help.

The thing I liked most about this book was that we got to see the other factions: what they were truly like, who was in them, how they worked and what place they played in society. Divergent had mainly been about setting the foundations, and it was nice to have a change of scenery.

Another thing I'm loving about this trilogy is there is no love triangle. Sometimes they work but most of the time they really annoy me and most other readers, so it's great that one of the most hyped YA books is a book with no love triangle. It's just Tris and Tobias, and this was really refreshing to read.

The ending was pure genius. It was a cliffhanger which was frustrating, although I had Allegiant already so it didn't leave me hanging for too long. However, the ending was something which no one could predict. There had been no clues about it, so it was great to be properly taken by surprise by a book for once!

I always feel a bit strange reviewing massively-hyped books because it seems like most people have read them already, but if you haven't read the Divergent trilogy then I highly recommend you do. I understand the hype can put people off, but if you're in need of a believable, exciting, unpredictable book then I'm sure you would enjoy this. I did not enjoy Insurgent as much as I enjoyed Divergent, but I still liked it and so it's receiving 4.5/5 from me! Now I'm halfway through Allegiant and it's looking good so far, so my review of that should be up soon enough.
Saturday, 12 April 2014

Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young

Title: Just Like Fate
Author: Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young
Published by: Electric Monkey
Publication date: 6th March 2014
Pages: 304
Genres: Young Adult/Romance/Contemporary/Grief
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Caroline is at a crossroads. Her whole family is on her back, and her grandmother, the only person who really understands her, is sick, maybe dying. All she wants to do is escape. So when her best friend suggests a night out to forget her troubles, Caroline must choose: stay by her grandmother's side, or go to the party and live her life... and maybe meet the boy of her dreams.

This decision will split Caroline's fate into two separate paths - and she's about to live them both. But there can only be one happy ending...

I parachuted into this book with high hopes. A book where we get to watch the consequences of two different life choices play out? Sounds good! I had a couple of issues with it, but overall it was good.

Caroline Cabot is a normal teenage girl, and when her grandmother dies she is, of course, devastated. She was closer to her than anyone else in the family, and it doesn't help that she wasn't by her grandmother's side when she died. It's then that her life splits in two and we see what would happen if she had stayed instead of going to a party. The chapters alternate between 'stay' and 'go', and I have to admit that I enjoyed 'go' a lot more than 'stay', mainly because her boyfriend wasn't a complete douchebag in that one.

Some people who read this book really disliked Caroline because she was selfish. She was selfish to an extent, but different people deal with grief in different ways, and I think this was hers. Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young have captured her emotions so well, and I genuinely felt really sad when Caroline's grandmother passed away even though we had only known her for a few pages. I do love a book which accurately depicts family dynamics, and this was one. Divorced parents, sister rivalry, a doting brother, and a new stepmother to deal short, I loved how realistically the family issues were written.

As I said at the beginning of this review, I did have a couple of issues with this book. This is ultimately a love story, which I hadn't actually realised before. I did enjoy it, but there were so many clich├ęs on the romance side. If they had been toned down just a little bit, I think it would have been a lot better. However, it was interesting to see how Caroline's relationship turned out with the guy she'd loved since pre-school, and then with someone she had only just met.

Just Like Fate is an easy, enjoyable read. What I got from this book is that if you make a choice that seems to have bad consequences at the time, don't beat yourself up about it. All choices have good and bad consequences at some point, and life is too short to keep worrying about them. Just Like Fate is about moving on, growing as a person, self-acceptance, forgiveness, and of course, fate. It was an interesting concept and, while nothing big or dramatic really happened, it was one I found myself enjoying a lot. 
Tuesday, 8 April 2014

What do you think of the book blogging community?

Too many blogs to count have done questionnaires recently on what they, as bloggers, could do to improve, and to find out what people like and dislike about their blogs.

My questionnaire is going to be a little different.

Over this past year I've noticed the blogging community seems to be turning very bitter. It's suddenly overrun with competitive people who seem to be fighting for the title of 'best blogger in the whole entire universe.' Twitter has been packed full of arguments between bloggers, and there are even friendships turning sour as blog jealousy arises.

It needs to stop. 

The blogging community never used to be like this. It was a lovely, happy place where we would congratulate each other on reaching a blogger achievement or getting a highly anticipated ARC instead of getting nasty.

Where's all that blogger love gone? This is also why I started the Blog Notes Project which, yes, will become a regular thing, I'm sure a few of you will be happy to hear.

So, here is my questionnaire. Whether you're a blogger or a blog reader, I want to know what you think of our community. If a good amount of people take interest and complete the questionnaire, I will be sharing the information at a later date, although all answers will be kept completely anonymous.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss

Title: The Year of the Rat
Author: Clare Furniss
Published by: Simon and Schuster
Publication date: 24th April 2014
Pages: 254
Genres: Young Adult/Contemporary/Romance/Death
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the PR company.

Pearl's baby sister is The Rat - she's the reason her mum died, the reason that Pearl's life has changed forever. Told across the year following her mum's death, Pearl's story is full of bittersweet humour and heart-breaking honesty ab out dealing with a grief that cuts you to the bone. Because the world can tip at any moment, but the secret is learning to find something to hold on to...

I read this in December and it's still a book which is close to my heart. Pearl is always arguing with her mum, but of course deep down they love each other very much. Her mum Stella is pregnant, and Pearl is loving buying things for the new baby with her best friend Molly. That is, until tragedy strikes the family, and nothing will ever be the same again.

To put it simply, The Year of the Rat will slice through your heart and then tug on the strings. The remarkable, dramatic and terrifyingly realistic plot will draw you in like cheese luring a mouse to a trap, and once you're immersed in the story, you can't escape. Gritty, empathic and thought-provoking, don't expect this book to be a delightful, cosy read, because it's not. The Year of the Rat will throw you straight into cruel reality.

It took a little while for me to properly get into this novel, but once I was in I couldn't stop reading. I truly empathised with Pearl - in fact, I've never understood a character as much as I did with Pearl - and I felt every stab of pain that she did. Furniss has written all of the characters brilliantly, but especially Pearl, and pure emotion flowed from every page. I think this novel will stay with me for a very long time.

If you're looking for a light, happy read then this book isn't for you. On the other hand, if you're looking for a book with strong morals which will change your way of thinking, I definitely recommend giving this a go! It's stunning.
I was also quoted on the cover of the book! I had no idea my quote had even been considered, so it was a lovely surprise. 

While I'm here, I'd just like to remind you that if you're a book blogger you might want to check out the Blog Notes Project, which I launched a couple of days ago. 

I also went to the Divergent movie premiere! You can either watch my vlog of the day or read my wrap-up post. Or you could do both... ;)
Wednesday, 2 April 2014

The Blog Notes Project

Have you ever felt discouraged about your blog?
Have you ever thought that your reviews are the worst, and that no one genuinely likes them?
Have you ever wondered if anyone even reads your blog?

I have these thoughts on a regular - even daily - basis, and I can't be the only one. That's why I came up with The Blog Notes Project.

Important stuff:
  • The Blog Notes Project is only open to book bloggers.
  • Sign-ups begin on 2nd April 2014.
  • Sign-ups close on 18th April 2014. 
Let me explain...
  • Each blogger will be assigned another random blogger. I will email you with your assigned blogger on 21st April 2014. When you know who it is, please don't tell them! They'll find out at the end, but it will be more fun if no one knows who they're paired with.
  • Everyone will have a few days to check out their person's blog.
  • Once you have looked at your assigned blogger's blog, please send me a few lines (or even a thousand words. Honestly - whatever floats your boat!) about why you love their blog. Maybe their design is the best you've ever seen, or perhaps their reviews are simply spectacular. Perhaps their blog has brightened your day; maybe their blog posts make you laugh out loud. Whatever it is, make sure to note it down! The aim of what you're writing is to make your blogger happy, and everything has to be true. Please email this to me by 28th April 2014.
  • Guess what? You will also be someone else's assigned blogger, meaning you will get a happy note in return!
  • I do love going with the element of surprise, so I will send out everyone's notes to each blogger on the same day in May. No one knows when this will be, except me...;) I'm hoping the blogosphere will be filled with love, and maybe a blogger who was having a bad day will suddenly be having a really good one.

Want to make a blogger smile?

To sign up for The Blog Notes Project, please fill out the form below.

Re-cap of the dates:
  • Sign-ups begin on April 2nd 2014.
  • Sign-ups close on April 18th 2014.
  • You will know who your assigned blogger is on April 21st 2014.
  • You will have until April 28th 2014 to send me your happy bloggy notes.
  • You will receive a note from another blogger on a random day in May 2014.

If you would like to share the link to this post on your blog, Twitter, or wherever else, please do. The more people who sign up, the more bloggers whose days will be brightened! If you have any questions about The Blog Notes Project, feel free to tweet me or send me an email. And, of course, you can keep up with any updates using the hashtag #BlogNotesProject on Twitter. :)

Last post: My experience at the UK Divergent movie premiere.
Last video: UK Divergent movie premiere | Vlog.