As I Am by AnnaLisa Grant

As I Am by AnnaLisa Grant

‘As I Am’ explored many important themes including self-esteem and bullying. But, I felt the author was so focused on these themes that she forgot to allow the story to flow resulting in stereotypical characters flopping around in an unoriginal, predictable storyline that lacked realism – who really forgives/changes their personalities so conveniently?

Long boring descriptions (often including clothes and make-up) and over-explained circumstances left me skim reading at times, desperately hoping that it would improve.2 Star

Recommended age: 14+

Title: As I Am
Author: Annalisa GrantAs I Am by AnnaLisa Grant
Published: 20 March 2016
Publisher: CreateSpace
Source: ARC

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“You’re not invisible. You’re invaluable.”

When Kinley Carmichael looks in the mirror, she doesn’t see her blonde-haired, blue-eyed, size 4 twin sister. She sees her dark-haired, brown-eyed, size 12 self. 

Kinley and her twin sister Addison are excited to start their second summer as counselors at The Camp at Lake Hollis. All Kinley wants is to earn enough money to meet up with her mother so they travel the world as professional photographers. All Addison wants is to work on her tan, seduce a boy, and build her fashion budget. And while Kinley and Addison couldn’t be more opposite, nothing has ever stopped them from being the best of friends. 

It’s an especially great summer for Kinley as the official camp photographer and Notre Dame Quarterback Cal Harper showing interest in her. But when poet Miller Conrad arrives and rejects Addison’s advances, showing more interest in Kinley, true colors will shine and the sisters’ bond will be tested. — Abstract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

For The Love Of Reading

For the Love of Reading . . .

Any bookworm will have a list of the things they love most about reading. Fanatic Avid readers who take the love of reading to the next level (to consume their identity and (if they are lucky) become their bread and butter) will easily jabber on for hours testing the patience of anyone but a fellow book lover soulmate.

The Escape

I have always fallen head first into story worlds which I find far easier to navigate than real life. I recall three-day-long annual treks to my grandparents’ home near the beach where despite the distractions amazing views I spent every day on the road wrapped up in a book (or six). Packing for holidays meant trying to fit in enough books to ensure I was never without another world to escape to. Painfully shy, the books played the additional role of protecting me from unwelcome conversations.

The Covers

Shallow? Maybe. But I’m the first to admit that the cover determines which books I add to my reading list. I know it’s subjective and that there are many great books with unfortunate covers that I have probably missed, but I have judged the book long before I’ve seen the title, the author or possible content. Unless bribed strongly encouraged books are immediately assigned a category somewhere between hell yes and never.

The Ritual

Before eBooks ruined my life made themselves so useful, I followed a personal a bookish ritual every time I started a new book. Every new (to me) book was held like a precious gem while I admired its cover, contemplated the thickness of the spine, stroked the crisp pages, breathed in the new book smell of ink and paper and read the blurb. The anticipation of the treasure within heightened by the wait.

First Lines

Sometimes, if you’re lucky you’ll find a book that you know is going to be great from the very first few lines. The joy of finding such a treasure where the author seems to be talking directly to you is exceptionally rare. Living between Southern Africa and South East Asia the opportunities to attend bookish events are few and far between. This is probably fortunate for authors with whom I have felt such connection as they’d probably run wailing to the hills in response to my enthusiastic ambushing barely contained fandom.

Browsing

If you have never wasted spent time amongst the books lining the shelves of a library or bookstore (virtual or physical) then you’ve never experienced the bittersweet joy of possibilities. You know you’ll never live long enough to read all the books you want to and you have no idea how to choose which will be next but you find yourself greedily drooling in the anticipation of devouring as many as you can!

Sharing 

My heart sings every time I see someone lost in a book. Wanting to find out what they are reading and wallow in the pleasure of discussing books with other bookish people, I have a hard time stopping myself from intruding. If you catch me staring, please put me out of my misery and initiate a bookish conversation!

Characters

Sometimes, if you’re very lucky you’ll come across a character that will jump out of the pages and into your heart. You’ll know straight away that carrying them with you will forever change how you see the world. For me these characters are rare and so precious I am reluctant to share in case you tell me they meant nothing to you… Don’t read on unless you can agree or keep silent! Park, Verity, Lily, Cath, Zuzana

Fantasy Story Worlds

The pleasure that comes immersing yourself into a well-constructed story world where life is far from reality but makes perfect sense within the world itself is something that is exceptionally difficult to put into words. These are worlds that you can easily lose time in. Think Narnia or Middle-Earth.

Titles

I love when I discover within the story the reason a particular is chosen and of course without titles we wouldn’t have fun constructing bookspine poetry.

I know I am not alone in smothering myself with printed pages, what are your bookish pleasures?

Top Ten Tuesday reduced

 

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

 

Ugly crop

Ugly by Margaret McHeyzer

Ugly was a tough read. Domestic abuse is a difficult subject, difficult to face, difficult to stand up to, difficult to write about. But that wasn’t only why I struggled with the book.

If the purpose of the story was to give victims the courage to get help, then it is everything it needs to be. Including the addition of contact numbers at the end.

But as a story, it didn’t quite deliver. With one-dimensional characters and long drawn out chapters, this was a book I couldn’t wait to finish. It was written devoid of emotion, almost like a documentary and I couldn’t quite reach Lily. I felt detached from the story as though I was hearing it 3rd hand. Sensitive to other people’s emotions I cry over books and movies all the time but with Ugly I just didn’t feel it.

It was only at the end, where skimming through the author’s acknowledgments that I realised it was based on true story. I am not sure if I would have felt differently if I had known that at the beginning, but it does put the events into perspective and make me more aware that maybe it could be a lifeline to someone one day.2 Star

Recommended age: 16+

Title: Ugly
Author: Margaret McHeyzer Ugly
Publication Date:
36 October 2015
Publisher: Margaret McHeyzer
Source: ARC
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If I were dead, I wouldn’t be able to see.
If I were dead, I wouldn’t be able to feel.
If I were dead, he’d never raise his hand to me again.
If I were dead, his words wouldn’t cut as deep as they do.
If I were dead, I’d be beautiful and I wouldn’t be so…ugly.
I’m not dead…but I wish I was.

— abstract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

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The Masterpiecers by Olivia Wildenstein

I so wanted to love this book. The idea behind it is brilliant and I loved the original reality show and that the main characters (identical twins) are such unreliable narrators. They kept me guessing throughout the story.

As both characters are restricted by the boundaries of their unique environments, the supporting characters had a very big role to play. This is possibly where the essence of the book was lost. With no voice and little insight into their lives, the supporting characters were missing something, their characters shallow.

The story started off well, but about halfway through I started to feel it weaken. The plot had so many missing pieces and loose ends and not all had been revealed by the end.  I kept waiting for a twist or something to give clarity to the storyline.

There is a sequel planned so here’s hoping clarity is still to come.3 Star

Recommended age: 13+

 

Title: The MasterpiecersThe Masterpiecers x
Series: Masterful
Author: Olivia Wildenstein 
Publication Date: 15 April 2016
Source: ARC

 
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Nineteen-year-old Ivy Redd’s talent with a needle and thread has earned her a spot on a coveted reality TV art competition set in New York’s Metropolitan Museum. The prize: a significant amount of money and instant acceptance into the Masterpiecers, the school that ensures new artists fame and fortune. Her talent has also thrust her and her twin sister, Aster, into the spotlight. 

Not that Aster needed help with becoming a media favorite. She managed that on her own by running over a wanted mobster. She told the police it was self-defense, because she couldn’t tell them the truth—the truth would make her sister look bad.

Locked in an Indiana jail to await her trial, Aster watches Ivy on the small TV hanging in the dayroom. It’s the highlight of her day, until she finds out what her sister truly thinks of her. Then, observing her sister becomes a punishment far crueler than imprisonment.  — abstract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

always stick to the book

I have just been to see Allegiant, the final book-to-movie of Veronica Roth’s Divergent series…

They (insert here: Evil scheming movie makers) have changed the story. I know right? Just no.

Always Stick to the Book

The ending is completely different…  Okay so I wasn’t in love with the original ending and yes I spent hours crying and days in hibernation after finishing the book. But it was real. The author said so. So I say so. The end.

Before Allegiant, I thought that Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper book-to-movie was the worst interpretation ever. My Sister’s Keeper was heart-wrenching, shocking, amazing…. The movie was just sweet. Sweet. That was all they could do when they had amazing to work with?

Some directors choose to focus on certain aspects, more than the book did. More violence, more action, more romance. Think The Hunger Games or The Maze Runner. I get that. They want to increase the audience and getting the story out is better than nothing. But they still stick to the original story.

The book is always better. But sometimes the movie can be good, even brilliant.

Just don’t change the story. EVER

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The Butterfly Code by Sue Wyshynski

I was so conflicted with this book…

I really (hate – too strong?) dislike the cover and had passed over the book on more than one occasion.

Late one night, not wanted to start a highly anticipated book when I had an early morning the next day, I found this title, conveniently at the top of my e-library shelf.

Boy was I in trouble, unable to put it down I read into the early hours and sleepily trying to concentrate the next day I found my thoughts drifting off… Who is the author, why haven’t read any of her books before…

Not my preferred genre, Sci-Fi has on the odd occasions clung to me begging to be read. Like Across the Universe, whose gorgeous cover was what attracted me, I often am so glad I branched out.

Butterfly Code was a book that, despite not really liking the futuristic side of it, was worth reading just for the writing style. Here I am, late at night again, typing this review and wishing… hoping the author decides to write more contemporary YA, because I’m going to want them all!4 Star

Recommended age: 14 +

Title: The Butterfly Code
Butterflycode reducedSeries: Transformations #1
Author: Sue Wyshynski
Publication Date:
15 October  2015
Publisher: Whitman Books
Source: ARC

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Aeris Thorne is expecting a restful vacation in the remote town of Deep Cove. But on a stormy night, she meets the alluring and mysterious Hunter Cayman, and her life takes an exhilarating turn. Aeris is both drawn to him and determined to find out what he’s hiding. But what Aeris doesn’t know is that he’s tormented by a secret: the truth behind his research. As he and Aeris are drawn together, the walls he’s built to protect himself threaten to crumble. At the same time, she uncovers clues to her own tragic past, answers she never thought to find–and a love she can’t resist despite the dark troubles it brings. When Aeris’s life is threatened, Hunter is forced to make an impossible decision about her future—one that could change everything.               — abstract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

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Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black

Drifting through this charming, but menacing book I got to know the easy-to-love Blue and watched as she discovered herself, slowly, bit by bit.

The vague, dreamy plot threading the story together was fun to read, but I was torn by the easy, contrived coincidences. Happy for the glimpses they showed of possible happy conclusions, but disappointed in their predictability which was more and more evident as the story panned out.
3 Star

Recommended age: 14+

 

Title: Devil and the BluebirdDevil and the Bluebird reduced
Author: Jennifer Mason-Black
Publication Date: 17 May 2016
Publisher:  Amulet Books
Source: ARC

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Blue Riley has wrestled with her own demons ever since the loss of her mother to cancer. But when she encounters a beautiful devil at her town crossroads, it’s her runaway sister’s soul she fights to save. The devil steals Blue’s voice—inherited from her musically gifted mother—in exchange for a single shot at finding Cass.

Armed with her mother’s guitar, a knapsack of cherished mementos, and a pair of magical boots, Blue journeys west in search of her sister. When the devil changes the terms of their deal, Blue must reevaluate her understanding of good and evil and open herself to finding family in unexpected places.   — Extract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

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The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

The Smell of Other People’s Houses is a beautifully written, enchanting novel that brings a breath of fresh air into the world of YA.

Invited into the homes of Alaskan families, I discovered warm, rich characters whose lives interweave in extraordinary ways.

I know very little about Alaska, other than it’s my husband dream destination! But with Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock’s ability to make the history and culture of Alaska come alive, it’s now a place I would love to explore with him.

Recommended age: 13+4 Star

Title: The Smell of Other People’s Houses
Author: Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
Publication Date: 23 February 2016Other peoples houses
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Source: ARC

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In Alaska, 1970, being a teenager here isn’t like being a teenager anywhere else. Ruth has a secret that she can’t hide forever. Dora wonders if she can ever truly escape where she comes from, even when good luck strikes. Alyce is trying to reconcile her desire to dance, with the life she’s always known on her family’s fishing boat. Hank and his brothers decide it’s safer to run away than to stay home—until one of them ends up in terrible danger.
 
Four very different lives are about to become entangled.
— Abstract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received an advanced review copy of this book from the publisher does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

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Infandous by Elana K. Arnold

Once there was a mermaid who dared to love a wolf. Her love for him was so sudden and so fierce that it tore her tail into legs.

Dark and sensual – bordering on crude, this wistful story is intertwined with menacing, venomous myth, until the line between them blurs.

Things don’t really turn out the way they do in fairy tales. I’m telling you that right up front, so you’re not disappointed later.

An unspeakable twist spins the tale off-balance and I was left in shock, hoping Sephora can arrange the pieces of her life in a way that allows her peace.

Recommended age: 16+ mature content2 Star

Title: Infandous
Author: Elana K. ArnoldINFANDOUS x
Publication Date:
1 March 2015
Publisher: Carlrhoda Lab
Source: ARC
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Sephora Golding lives in the shadow of her unbelievably beautiful mother. Even though they scrape by in the seedier part of Venice Beach, she’s always felt lucky. As a child, she imagined she was a minor but beloved character in her mother’s fairy tale. But now, at sixteen, the fairy tale is less Disney and more Grimm. And she wants the story to be her own. Then she meets Felix, and the fairy tale takes a turn she never imagined. Sometimes, a story is just a way to hide the unspeakable in plain sight.    — Extract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Lilac Girls crop

I had to keep my wits about me, since French men were my Achilles’ heel. In fact, if Achilles had been French, I probably would have carried him around until his tendon healed.

Based on a true story this book accompanies three woman whose lives intersect during and after the Second World War.

The author’s extensive research is evident and her soft, subtle, understated way of storytelling spins a comforting and nostalgic cloak around the reader. But don’t be fooled into thinking this book doesn’t pack a punch, the tranquility  only emphasises the enormity the impact of war has on humanity.

None of us knew how wrong we were that morning as we stepped put of the train and fell headlong into hell.

The realistic characters and the portrayal of their environmental influences, such as the propaganda and indoctrination, allows a deep connection between the reader and the story. Each character is portrayed with such complexity that I found my opinion of, and feelings towards them constantly evolved over time.

Recommended age: 15+4 Star

 

Title: Lilac Girls
Author: Martha Hall KellyLilac Girls
Publication Date: 5 April 2016
Publisher:  Ballantine Books
Source: ARC
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New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.— Extract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.