NO FILTER by ORLAGH COLLINS | Book Review

Hey everyone!

First of all, thank you so much to Bloomsbury Australia for sending me an early copy of No Filter to review.

I really enjoyed this debut novel. It was a bit of a slow start, but at the time I was extremely bogged down by university work and writing my thesis that I couldn’t invest myself fully into the story until just yesterday, when I flew through the last 150 pages.

There’s no doubt that this is your traditional ‘summer love’ story, but there was also some depth to the romance, which I appreciated.

Both Emerald and Liam have their fair share of family drama and through each other they learn to become better, stronger people. Where Emerald teaches Liam to follow his heart and live out his dreams, Liam teaches Emerald that she must learn to accept her imperfect parents. I really enjoyed reading from Emerald and Liam’s perspectives, although at times I confused the two of them. It was almost like the exact same voice and tone was trying to be forced onto one perspective, when really it was more unique to the other character’s perspective. Another thing too was the somewhat excessive use of exclamation points- they were used in almost every other sentence, and most of the time during emotional scenes that didn’t really warrant them being there. This kind of threw me off at some points during the story, especially during scenes that were actually supposed to be high intensity and high emotion- I just wasn’t exactly sure when and where to feel sad, angry, confused, questioning, excited etc.

However, that being said, I was really impressed with the writing style overall. For a debut novel I was really drawn in by Orlagh’s style. She used analogies and metaphors in a way that actually made sense and worked within the broader feel of the story, but didn’t over-use them to the point where it felt extremely overdone and forced.

I would have liked to have seen some more of Liam’s family, especially his mum. With all of the drama centred around Liam, university, college results, his dad and his dad’s unstable employment status, it felt like Liam’s mum (and even his sisters) weren’t given enough time to really develop as unique characters. It almost felt as though Liam’s mum was there to just be a parent with a different perspective than his dad, and his sister Laura was there to propel the story forward (and add in some drama) when the plot hit a bit of a bump in the road.

That being said though I liked the Flynn family dynamic overall. It was a difficult situation that the family were in- something that I definitely can’t relate to at all- and reading about a character thrown into the middle of it, and struggling with the pressure of being almost responsible to get his family out of it, was really new to me and interesting to read. Even with Emerald’s character, where I also couldn’t identify with her struggling situation. I can’t even fathom what it would be like to be in a situation such as her and her parents’, but all things considered I think that Emerald handled most of it pretty maturely. She seemed almost older than she was at times, and by the end I was on board with her and Liam as a couple. They were better together than apart, and learned from each other in a lot of ways, which I appreciated the author making a strong point of.

I also appreciated the pop culture references, especially about Ed Sheeran (a.k.a my all time favourite musician). Even though it seemed like Emerald and her father were tired of hearing Ed on the radio 24/7, I absolutely didn’t mind it.

I liked how the author incorporated Instagram into the story, and used it to spread a message about social media and how all-consuming it can be, especially for young people. Emerald clearly struggled with social media and online relationships, and I feel like- as a young person myself- it’s something that I’ve also had to deal with. It can be so hard to disconnect and disassociate ourselves from our online presence, and I don’t know if this is just the psychology student in me- but it’s clear to me that a lot of young people base their entire self-perception in what they post online. The Internet itself is such a mighty presence in the lives of young people, and for teenage girls especially it can be a place where self-esteem and self-regard either flourish or crumble entirely.

It was so interesting to read from the perspective of Emerald- who’s struggling with how her ‘real-life friends’ act online- who makes the conscious decision to remove herself entirely from it all, and find her real self in reality. Instead of fussing over who has and hasn’t liked her latest Instagram photo, Emerald focuses on exploring her new, temporary life in Ireland, discovering a new-found relationship with Liam, and even reconnecting with her mum and grandmother too.

The choice that Emerald made is something that I constantly think about- ‘What would my life look like without social media? How would it affect my life and the relationships I have?’. It’s hard to say of course, especially as I’m writing this review and plan to post it online soon, but I think this aspect of the story is something that will resonate strongly with a lot of young readers, and maybe leave a positive, lasting impression too.

 

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It’s winter in Australia, but lately I’ve been really enjoying a good, easy contemporary read set during the summer. With university work starting to pile up, a thesis deadline ever approaching, and so many other adult responsibilities to attend to during my everyday life, it’s been fun to dive straight into an easy, quick “summer” read during the cold weeks of winter.

Also, can we just take a moment to please appreciate how often Liam, Emerald and all of their friendship group went to the pub??? Honestly, I’ve never related to a group of friends so much in my life. What were they all drinking? How long were they there? Was it busy and crowded? Was there a band playing? Was it big or small? I have no idea, but it was all so wonderfully, stereotypically Irish and I absolutely loved it. I wish we had more of the pub setting in the book, but I loved the small taste of Irish culture that we did get.

Overall, I’m definitely impressed by Orlagh’s writing style (even though it took me a while to get the hang of understanding Irish slang) and am so thankful to Bloomsbury for sending me a copy of this book to review. I’m looking forward to seeing what else this author has in store for the world of young adult literature in the future.

I rated No Filter by Orlagh Collins a 3.5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

No Filter will be available to purchase in Australian bookstores from 1 August, 2017 ($14.99).

My Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/25169575-emilyp0tter

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Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/No-Filter-Orlagh-Collins/9781408884515?ref=grid-view&qid=1501020444264&sr=1-1

QBD: https://www.qbd.com.au/no-filter/orlagh-collins/9781408884515/

Dymocks: https://www.dymocks.com.au/book/no-filter-by-orlagh-collins-9781408884515/

 

emilyp0tter
– x0

MID-YEAR BOOK ‘FREAK OUT’ | TAG

Hello everyone! Today I’m here to share with you all the ‘Mid-Year Book Freak Out’ book tag, which is basically a series of questions asking about our reading progress (or lack thereof) throughout the year so far. So let’s get to it.

1. BEST BOOK YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2017

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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2. BEST SEQUEL YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2017.

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

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3. NEW RELEASE YOU HAVEN’T READ YET, BUT WANT TO.

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

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4. MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE FOR THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR.

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

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Warcross by Marie Lu

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Artemis by Andy Weir

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5. BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT.

Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda

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6. BIGGEST SURPRISE.

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

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7. FAVOURITE NEW AUTHOR (DEBUT, OR NEW TO YOU).

– Emery Lord

– Robin Roe

– Holly Bourne

8. NEWEST FICTIONAL CRUSH.

– Reid (The Upside of Unrequited)

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9. NEWEST FAVOURITE CHARACTER.

– Kit Herondale (Lord of Shadows)

– Starr Carter (The Hate U Give)

– Nina Zenik (Six of Crows)

10. BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY.

A List of Cages by Robin Roe

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11. BOOK THAT MADE YOU HAPPY.

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

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12. FAVOURITE BOOK TO FILM ADAPTATION YOU’VE SEEN THIS YEAR.

13 Reasons Why

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13. FAVOURITE REVIEW YOU’VE WRITTEN THIS YEAR.

The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

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14. MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK YOU’VE BOUGHT OR RECEIVED SO FAR THIS YEAR.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (20th Anniversary)

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15. WHAT BOOKS DO YOU NEED TO READ BY THE END OF THE YEAR?

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

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Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

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Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

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We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

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Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

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How’s your reading been so far in 2017? What have you read and loved? What have you read that’s really disappointed you? What are you most excited about reading during the rest of 2017? Let me know!

emilyp0tter
– x0

THE NAMES THEY GAVE US by EMERY LORD | BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

First, thank you so much to Allen & Unwin Australia for sending me a finished copy of this book to review.

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The Names They Gave Us is a story about love, loss, faith and friendship. In essence. We follow 17 year old Lucy Hansson, who has the perfect summer planned out with her boyfriend Lukas. She’s ready to go back to work at her childhood Bible camp by the lake, and explore her faith some more, but when her mother’s cancer reappears and Lukas puts a ‘pause’ on their relationship, Lucy isn’t so sure that the upcoming summer months are going to plan. Then, Lucy’s mum tells her that instead of working at the Bible camp like normal, she’s instead signed Lucy up as a camp counsellor at the camp across the lake, Camp Daybreak, a camp for wayward, troubled and grieving kids and teens.

The story follows Lucy as she learns to navigate a new world she’s practically been thrown in to, as she tries to reconnect with her faith and find new friends in a place she never thought she would. It’s a story of compassion and kindness, empathy and understanding and learning to open up and let others in when you need them the most.

This book has touched me in so many ways. In May 2017 I lost my grandfather to a horrible battle with cancer. It was his third time fighting the disease, so Lucy’s thoughts about her mum and her mum’s battle with cancer sounded very similar to my own recent ones. I quickly grew to empathise with Lucy. I completely understood where she was mentally and the reason(s) for why she did (or didn’t) do certain things. If you’ve ever experienced cancer (in any sort of way) you’d know that you never really, truly know if anything will be okay ever again, and I just wanted to reach into this book and give Lucy (and her mum) a hug for everything that she was going through.

The Names They Gave Us was my one private way of grieving. In the weeks since my grandfather passed away I’ve almost become a different person, in the way that losing someone special and dear to you changes you at the core, most fundamental level. Lucy’s character showed me that it’s okay not to be okay, and that everyone has their own ways of dealing with grief and loss and hardship. It’s okay to reach out to family, friends and faith. It’s okay if you’re angry at God or whoever else you believe in. It’s okay if you’re mad at yourself for a while. There wasn’t a moment in this book where I felt that Lucy was unjustified in her actions. In fact, she handled things a lot better than I think I have and I’m 4 years older than her. Lucy learned to talk to her parents and demand that they keep her up-to-date about her mum’s illness, she stood up to Lukas and put herself first before anyone else, and she was a great counsellor to a group of kids that looked up to her.

I also respect the author for the amount of religious elements that this book had in it. Lucy’s a very religious girl, her father’s a pastor and she’s spent her entire life raised on religious faith. But when she gets to Camp Daybreak, Lucy learns that not everybody lives with faith the way that she does. When her mum’s cancer comes back, Lucy learns that faith isn’t as stable as she thought it once was, and this whole book shows the amount of development that she goes through trying to navigate on shaky ground. The Names They Gave Us showed me that you can lose your faith, but find it again in the things and the people that you love, just like Lucy does in her parents and her new found friends. Lucy didn’t force herself to find God again, but learned that there’s more than one way to be faithful, to pray and to be thankful. This book taught me to find faith, love, beauty, kindness (and so much more) in places I’d never thought to look before.

This is also a book about friendship. What is friendship? How do you tell a true friend from a fake one? What does it mean to be a friend to someone, and to seek friendship in other people? There are moments in this book where Lucy truly starts to see herself as a part of a new found family with the campers and counsellors at Camp Daybreak. I love that she allowed herself to really open up to so many new people, to be unafraid to share her passions and her faith, and to express how she felt (especially about a certain other counsellor).

Of all the other characters we meet, Anna was a definite stand-out. Anna had one of the most unique voices, and I loved her character development, even though I wish we got to see a lot more of her. I actually wouldn’t mind reading an entire spin-off novel all about Anna.

I also really loved Jones’ character. I was hesitant at first, believing he would be no more than a rebound love interest for Lucy, but their relationship developed so much deeper than I was expecting it to. He’s supportive and comforting, caring and absolutely kind to her in every way, but he also didn’t shy away from speaking up about his feelings and experiences. Even though I know next to nothing about music or melodies, I found myself entranced every time Jones picked up his trumpet or Lucy sat at the piano. Jones’ family were so welcoming to Lucy, and their warmth just radiated off the page. All in all, Jones was just a good guy at heart, and I’m glad he and Lucy shared something special with each other in the end.

This book had elements that scared me, but that ultimately surprised me in the end. I loved every character, I enjoyed reading about a protagonist who had interests rather different to mine, and overall I’m just so happy to have found a book that has allowed me to work through the grief I’m still experiencing. It taught me a lot of lessons about life, faith, friendship and grief, and ultimately it shared something special about family, and love that never ends.

Overall, I highly recommend The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord. If you love a contemporary novel, and you’re looking for one that will pull at the heartstrings, then this is it.

I gave The Names They Gave Us 4.5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

The Names They Gave Us is out now, available in-store and online in Australia! ($17.99)

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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32799280-the-names-they-gave-us

Buy ‘The Names They Gave Us’

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Names-They-Gave-Us-Emery-Lord/9781408877814?ref=grid-view&qid=1499060723359&sr=1-1

Dymocks: https://www.dymocks.com.au/book/names-they-gave-us-by-emery-lord-9781408877814/

QBD: https://www.qbd.com.au/names-they-gave-us/emery-lord/9781408877814/

emilyp0tter
– x0

A Lot Can Happen In 30 Days

Like the title says, a lot can happen in 30 days. For example, I submitted my final assessment for the semester on 10 May. After that I took a few days off to rest, recuperate and recharge my batteries before diving head-first into studying for my exams, the second and last of which is on 14 June. So, that’s basically 30 days of non-stop exam study, and to be completely honest it’s felt like an entire lifetime, because a lot has changed in the past month or so.

My grandfather passed away on 22 May, 2017. My mum and my aunties took him into hospital for a check-up (he’d been complaining about pain in his stomach and lower back for a while), and from there … he didn’t come home.

My grandfather is the strongest person I know. In 2013 he was diagnosed with bladder cancer, and underwent several treatments and operations to remove it, which were thankfully successful. However, this came with a long period of recovery, and my grandfather never really was himself again.

In 2014, my grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was bad, really really bad. After several family meetings and suggestions from the doctor to ‘prepare ourselves for what’s to come’, they operated on him again, this time removing almost all of my grandfather’s right lung. He got through it though. He survived it. After that I was 100% convinced that my grandfather was destined to stay here with us.

My grandfather was a sick man since his first diagnosis. He relied on so much medication, had frequent check-ups and scans and tests done, but he was there for us. That was enough for me and my family. He celebrated Christmas with us, the birthdays of all of his loving grandchildren, and was always the first person to congratulate me on getting an excellent grade on an assignment.

So it didn’t occur to me, when my mum and my aunties took him into hospital ‘just to get him checked out’, that soon enough the doctors would find spots on his liver. That his kidneys were failing him. That he was secretly, and unbeknownst to all of us, dying.

I think he knew. I think he knew this was it for him, and I’m angry at him for knowing and not telling us sooner, but I’ve come to learn that there was probably nothing that anyone could have done anyway. He had Stage 4 cancer, again. It was full-blown. The doctors put a stint in his kidneys to keep them functioning, but from that procedure my grandfather developed pneumonia, to which no medication worked. Everything was failing, and in the midst of it all I didn’t want to come to terms with the thought of losing the man who called me princess every time he saw me.

Within two weeks, he was gone.

The hospital he was in was almost an hour away from our house, but mum, dad, my brother and I always made the effort to visit him 2-3 times a week.

The last thing he said to me was: “thanks for coming”.

The last thing he said to my mum was: “I love you”.

Like I said, my grandfather was a really sick man. In a way I’m happy, because I know he’s out of pain now, for the first time in 5 years. My grandfather was orphaned at only 3 years old, and again I’m happy in a way because I know that he’s with his parents now, meeting them again and getting to know them for the first time.

At least I hope you’re happy up there Pappou, because we’re not happy down here. But we will be. You left us all of your strength and my God do we need it now more than ever. But we’ll be okay.

Like you always said, we’ll “see you when we see you”.

Not even a week after my grandfather passed away, one of my major assignments was returned to us. I got 95%, the highest grade I think I’ve ever received at university. I bawled my eyes out, not just because it was one of the hardest assignments I’ve ever had to do but because I couldn’t visit my Pappou and tell him about it. I didn’t get the chance to see the smile on his face when I’d tell him what I got, see the pure pride radiate out of him.

But in his own way, he knows. He knows what I can do, who I am and what I can accomplish.

I wasn’t completely sure that I was going to post about this at all, but I had to get it out somehow. My mum is sad almost every day, and angry every other day. My grandmother looks lost in her own home and I’m not even sure I’ve completely processed all of this either.

I think it’s important that we all keep going, whatever that means. Whether it means I bury myself in studying for exams 24/7, keep going. Whether it means mum goes back to work and stays there from 8am to 6pm, keep going. Whether it means my grandmother cleans the house 5 times over in one day just to keep herself busy, just keep going. None of these are bad things. In fact, we’re all dealing with this in our own way. One day it won’t hurt as much but for now all we can do is keep going, together, separately, whatever way works.

I’ll see my Pappou again, and I know my grandmother will see him again too. A lot can change in just 31 days, but the change isn’t always so bad.

 

emilyp0tter
– x0

We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan & Brian Conaghan | BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone! Today I’m here to share with you all a spoiler-free review of We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan. Thank you so much to Bloomsbury Australia for sending me an advanced reader’s copy of We Come Apart for review purposes.

We Come Apart is a young adult contemporary novel written in the perspectives of Jess and Nicu. It’s a collaborative novel written by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan that was birthed from the moment these two authors first met in 2015. We Come Apart is written in verse, and is a high-impact, high emotion story about star-crossed lovers and the forces that threaten to tear them apart.

We Come Apart (Goodreads): https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31450906-we-come-apart

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S U M M A R Y
We Come Apart follows the lives of Jessica Clarke and Nicu Gabor, two teenagers arrested for shoplifting and placed in the same community service group. To Jess, if her friends hadn’t left her in the lurch she would never have looked twice at Nicu, who’s all big eyes and ill-fitting clothes even when the two of them are picking up litter in the local park. Nicu isn’t Jess’ type, and appearances matter to Jess (who has a lot to hide). To Nicu, Jess is beautiful and the last thing that he wants is to take part in an arranged marriage back home in Romania. But unfortunately, Nicu’s father’s fists are a more powerful force in his life and in the end he knows that he’ll have to do what his dad wants.

We Come Apart handles a lot of heavy topics in the limited number of pages that it has. It doesn’t shy away from the everyday struggles of high school, home life and community service, but it also makes important social and political commentary on domestic violence, racism and immigration.

 C H A R A C T E R S 
There are a lot of characters in We Come Apart, including family, friends and community service officers (e.g. social workers). While we don’t see a lot of every character, we get enough of each of them to know who they are and to decide whether we enjoy them as a character. There were a few characters I enjoyed (e.g. Jess’ social worker), but there were a lot more that I really disliked (i.e. Jess’ entire circle of friends). There were characters that I disliked for obvious reasons (e.g. Terry), but there were also some that showed their true colours in a much more subtle way.

In We Come Apart we first meet Jess, an outspoken and courageous character who by the end is unafraid to stand up for who and what she believes in. At only 16, Jess has already established herself as a notorious shoplifter, and actively acts out against her teachers and community service support network. Jess has a lot of difficulties at school, not only with her teachers but also with her so-called “friends”, and on top of that Jess has a lot of trouble at home. Her older brother Liam left more than a year ago, her biological father left when she was a child and her mother continues to be physically and emotionally abused by her step-father Terry. While Jess struggles with her home life and school, and on top of that the debt owed to her community, she starts to form an unlikely alliance with Nicu.

Then we meet Nicu, a young and recent immigrant to England from Romania. Nicu moved to England with his mother and father in the hopes of earning enough money (quickly) to move back to Romania for Nicu’s soon-to-be arranged marriage. However, Nicu soon learns the difficulties of fitting into a new place, particularly one with such a strong language barrier. To the rest of London, Nicu is an alien and to Nicu, London (and the English language) is alien. He struggles with school and with the law, and as soon as his feelings for Jess begin to develop into more than just friendly feelings, he worries he’ll soon struggle to leave her behind.

I commend these authors for introducing cultural diversity with Nicu and the Gabor family, especially because I’d read almost nothing about Romania or Romanian culture before We Come Apart. However, I do wish there had been more cultural, sexual and/or other representation in this book.

W R I T I N G
We Come Apart is the first young adult novel written in verse that I’ve read, which made for an interesting reading experience. At the time that I read this novel I was at a holiday house with a group of almost 12 friends, all of whom were sitting around the small living area. A few of them were playing a videogame on the TV, and all of us were sat around them, almost like a small family, watching on with deep curiousity and fascination. When we disbanded, I picked up We Come Apart and started to read, and I felt instantly drawn into the story. It took no more than a few hours to read this book from cover to cover, and it was fast-paced enough to propel the story even further.

I enjoyed the writing style in We Come Apart at certain points, but at others I struggled. While I can appreciate how each author made each character’s voice very distinct and unique, Nicu’s chapters were disjointed and difficult to understand. Nicu’s inability to understand English presents a barrier at school and at community service, but it also presents a challenge to the reader who has to work to properly understand what it is he’s actually thinking and referring to in some scenes. I also found it a little bit convenient that Jess was able to easily understand Nicu after only a few weeks of knowing him, and that in turn Nicu is able to easily communicate with Jess without proper and formal teaching in the English language.

A small part of me also enjoyed the fact that each chapter had a really unique title to it that related to the content of that chapter, even if it was a few lines long.

O V E R A L L
Overall, I did enjoy We Come Apart and it took no more than three hours to finish it. However, I feel as though the format of We Come Apart significantly underwhelmed the actual plot of the novel. While I enjoyed the experience of reading a novel written in verse, I couldn’t help but feel that disconnect between myself and the lives of Jess and Nicu. I empathised with Nicu and felt angry for Jess, but overall their lives didn’t intercept mine, so there was always something inevitably standing between us.

 I rated We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan 3.8 out of 5 on Goodreads.

Once again thank you so much to Bloomsbury Australia for sending me a copy of We Come Apart to review. If you liked this review and are now interested in purchasing your own copy of this book, I’ll leave a few links down below.

We Come Apart is set to be released in Australia in March 2017.

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Let me know if you’re interested in reading We Come Apart down below in the comments, and until next time, happy reading!

emilyp0tter
– x0

We Come Apart:

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/We-Come-Apart-Sarah-Crossan-Brian-Conaghan/9781408878866?ref=grid-view

Booktopia: http://www.booktopia.com.au/we-come-apart-sarah-crossan/prod9781408878866.html

Dymocks: https://www.dymocks.com.au/book/we-come-apart-by-sarah-crossan-9781408878866/

 

The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles | BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone! Today I’m here to share with you all a spoiler-free review of The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles. Thank you so much to Allen and Unwin Australia for sending me a copy of The Edge of Everything for review purposes.

The Edge of Everything was one of my most highly anticipated young adult releases for 2017, and I also mentioned it my recent Top 5 Wednesday blog post where we discussed our top five most anticipated debut author releases for 2017.

Unfortunately in 2016 I didn’t read that many (if any) debut author releases, and it’s definitely a goal of mine for 2017 to remedy that. I’m so thankful to have been given the opportunity to read and review Jeff Giles’ debut, and am happy that I’ve already made progress on one of my reading resolutions for the year. So, let’s get into the spoiler-free review of The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles.

The Edge of Everything (Goodreads): https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31170713-the-edge-of-everything

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S U M M A R Y
For those who want a summary of The Edge of Everything, the story follows 17-year-old Zoe as she struggles with the death of her father and the murder of her elderly neighbours. One night during a particularly fierce blizzard, Zoe ventures out into the forest to search for her eight-year-old brother Jonah, who had been playing outside with their two dogs, but soon encounters a man- and an entire world- that she didn’t expect to find.

One thing I will say about this book is that the blurb doesn’t give away an awful lot about it, which is good in my opinion. The summary provided on Goodreads seems very in-depth, long and full of spoilers- in typical Goodreads fashion- so I would say that if you’re interested in reading The Edge of Everything, maybe stay away from Goodreads until after you’ve finished reading it. The more vague and mysterious The Edge of Everything is, the more I believe you’ll enjoy what it has to offer along the way.

C H A R A C T E R S
I’m not exactly sure how I feel about the characters in The Edge of Everything. Sometimes I feel completely connected to them and at other times I feel like I don’t understand them at all, which might be because of how different X and Zoe communicate. X is a very old-fashioned character, raised by a woman from another era, and Zoe’s a teenage girl from the 21st century. Where X brings the more fantastical elements to The Edge of Everything, Zoe elicits a contemporary element.

X was probably my favourite character. He had intrigue, mystery and an innocence about him that had me wanting to defend his actions and handle the consequences later. I wanted to learn more about him as the book progressed- where he came from, what he does and the mystery behind the boy with no name.

I really enjoyed the relationship between Zoe and Jonah. I love sibling relationships that are portrayed well and considering the age gap between Zoe and Jonah, as well as Jonah’s ADHD and their father’s death, I felt that the bond between them was very authentic and honest. Jeff Giles showed how siblings argue and fight but also how they reconcile, and he wasn’t afraid to bring up hard topics around young children. I appreciated that Jeff Giles highlighted how fierce a relationship between two siblings can be.

I wanted more of the side characters in The Edge of Everything. I loved the representation of LGBTQIAP+ characters, and Val was one of the best. Even though we didn’t get too much of Val or her relationship with Gloria, what we did see of her stood out. I also enjoyed Dallas’ character, but at times I found him a little hard to handle. Although Dallas was sweet and adorable at times his character wasn’t entirely necessary to the overall storyline- I think he was introduced simply to be Zoe’s ex-boyfriend and not much else.

There were some relationships that I couldn’t get on board with. Zoe and X’s relationship developed very quickly that it was practically insta-love. Within 72 hours of meeting one another X and Zoe were devoted and willing to die for the other, and determined to only be with the other forever. X, a character who has never known love or companionship, becomes attached to Zoe very quickly, and Zoe herself practically forgets that her family exists because she’s so consumed by X.

The relationship between Zoe and her father was also disappointing. I’m not in any position to assess how accurate (or inaccurate) Zoe’s grieving process is because I’ve never lost a parent before, but there were certain times throughout the book where I felt that Zoe acted somewhat irrationally. Sometimes she would forget her father was dead, and I wasn’t convinced that her behaviour could be justified as grief. Zoe vacillates between missing her father and hating him, which only confuses the reasons for her behaviour. Overall, the relationship between Zoe and her father was frustrating.

W R I T I N G
The writing in The Edge of Everything is easily its strongest element. It was clear to me very early on that Jeff Giles is an extremely talented writer, and the writing style throughout the book was very impressive for a debut author release. The way this story was written made sure that my attention was captured the entire time, and the story itself was very fast-paced. I finished this book within a matter of days because I kept needing to know what was going to happen next to these characters.

I also appreciated how the writing made it so that the reader could easily jump into the story and understand what was happening in each scene. The way that Giles laid down the foundation(s) of the world made the plotline build on itself seamlessly, and made me even more interested to see what happened next. The mythology behind the Lowlands also made me eager to see what the consequences would be for some of the character’s actions. Giles’ writing is descriptive, lavish and beautiful in the way he established new scenes and settings (i.e. the Lowlands), and I imagined these places very clearly in my head whilst reading.

There’s something about the writing- particularly the dialogue- that seemed simultaneously old-fashioned and contemporary, which correlate to each of X’s and Zoe’s voices. X and Ripper are both old-fashioned characters yet we had characters such as Zoe, Jonah, Val, Dallas and Banger to contrast them with their modern, teenage ways of communicating.

O V E R A L L
Overall, The Edge of Everything was such a fast-paced read and I really enjoyed learning about the Lowlands and about X as a character. Jeff Giles is a very talented writer, and the writing style kept me engaged and wanting to know more throughout the entire book.

The Edge of Everything is a breath of fresh air in the genre of urban fantasy, and I found a lot of originality with regards to the characters and world-building. However, I couldn’t get on board with the main romance in this book and also had trouble believing in some of the other relationships, romantic, platonic and/or familial. Although The Edge of Everything was one of my most anticipated releases of 2017, the insta-love overshadowed my enjoyment of some of the other elements of the book, and so it overall fell a little bit flat for me.

I rated The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles 3.75 out of 5 on Goodreads, and I will continue to read from Jeff Giles, and from this series.

Once again thank you so much to Allen and Unwin Australia for sending me a copy of The Edge of Everything to review. If you liked this review and are now interested in purchasing your own copy of this book, I’ll leave a few links down below.

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Let me know if you’ve read The Edge of Everything down below in the comments, and whether or not you enjoyed it. I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews about this one and would love to discuss it some more.
Until next time, happy reading!

emilyp0tter
– x0

The Edge of Everything:
Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Edge-of-Everything-Jeff-Giles/9781408869079?ref=grid-view

Booktopia: http://www.booktopia.com.au/the-edge-of-everything-jeff-giles/prod9781408869079.html

Dymocks: https://www.dymocks.com.au/book/the-edge-of-everything-by-jeff-giles-9781408869079/

 

 

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY | Current Favourites [February 1]

Hello everyone! Today I’m here to share with you all another ‘Top 5 Wednesday’. This week’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is ‘Current Favourites That Aren’t Books’. I’m super excited about this week’s topic, as I think that it’s a great idea to share anything and everything you’ve been loving recently, and not just those in a specific category (e.g. books, TV shows, movies, makeup items etc.). I chose something from five different categories for this week’s topic, and I hope that you all enjoy!

1. This Is Us (TV)

Oh My God. This Is Us has absolutely, 100% without a doubt sky-rocketed to my most favourite TV show of all time. I wanted to watch this show the second that it aired (in the US, we all know how behind Australia is with these US TV shows), but I was in the middle of my final semester exams at university, and so I completely forgot about it. However, now that it’s summer I’ve binge-watched This Is Us for the past few weeks and I am absolutely obsessed.  This is one of the most- if not the most- real-to-life TV shows that I’ve seen in a long time. It so accurately portrays the everyday struggles of family life, and portrays your not-so-typical family dynamic. It has heartache and heartbreak, humour, sadness, spirit and a lot of love in it, and I so highly recommend it to everybody.

2. Better Than Sex (Mascara)

Another thing that I’ve put off, the Better Than Sex mascara from Too Faced cosmetics. I was a little bit skeptical about trying this mascara, as the bristles and size and shape of the wand aren’t what I typically go for when choosing a mascara to purchase. But, when my brother bought me one of the limited edition Too Faced Christmas palettes, a sample size of the Better Than Sex mascara came with it, and so I had no reason not to try it. I love it. I love it so so so so much. I only have the sample size still, but I think that as soon as it’s run out that I’m definitely going to have to purchase the full size. This mascara gives me everything that I want; it gives volume to and separates my lashes without making them look clumpy, and coats on extra layers without making them feel heavy.

3. Castle on the Hill – Ed Sheeran

If you don’t know, Ed Sheeran is my all time favourite musical artist. I first found his music in 2010, and I’ve seen him live in concert three times now (well, as of February 1st 2017). So, naturally, when it was announced that Ed was finally releasing new music after a year of social media hiatus, I had my countdown at the ready. When Ed released ‘Shape of You‘, I really loved that song, but when he released ‘Castle on the Hill‘ I found myself sitting alone in my car with tears running down my cheeks. Listening to that song for the first time instantly transported me back to his concert, where I first heard his song ‘Photograph‘ live. It was my 19th birthday, and I finally got to hear my all time favourite song sung live, and Castle on the Hill brings back all of those memories for me. I’ve had this song on repeat everyday since it came out, and I already know that it’s my favourite song from his to-be-released album Divide. 

4. Jacquelyn Lovene (YouTube Channel)

I recently stumbled across this YouTube channel when I found myself in the deep, dark hole of beauty and makeup videos. Based on the recommendation of another beauty YouTuber that I subscribe to, I found myself looking up ‘Anti Haul’ and ‘decluttering’ videos on YouTube, and Jacquelyn’s channel was one of the first that I found. Soon, I found myself watching her videos late into the hours of the night (even if I had work or my internship the following morning), and adding even more of her videos to my ‘Watch Later’ list- just to have them there for future notice. I love how absolutely down-to-Earth Jacquelyn is, and how unafraid she is to be honest about what you do and don’t need in your makeup collection. I’m not a person who likes to own excessive and unnecessary amounts of anything, and watching Jacquelyn’s videos has definitely helped me with that.

5. Plunkett’s Vita E Natural Vitamin E Cream

It’s summer, so I’ve been moisturising at least once a day everyday for the past few months. I don’t get sunburnt all that easily, but when I do this is what I use to settle my skin and prevent my skin from peeling (and my sunburn from turning into a tan). This moisturiser has Vitamin E in it, which is a great ingredient to have if you have problems with acne scarring or other blemishes and marks that just haven’t faded. I’ve had a lot of struggle with acne and pimples since I was 12-13 years old, and this is one of the few products that I’ve used that’s actually made a noticeable difference to my skin. This product isn’t too pricey for what it is, and I find that it’s definitely a good investment to make, especially if you deal with such problem skin.

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Let me know your ‘Top 5’ favourite things that aren’t books, I’d love to check them out (especially if one of them involves a YouTube channel- like I said, I’m in a deep, dark hole on that front). Do you love Castle on the Hill as much as I do? Or do you prefer Shape of You?

2017 Debuts (YA): https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/88440.YA_Debuts_2017

T5W: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/118368-top-5-wednesday

emilyp0tter
– x0

JANUARY WRAP-UP | 2017

Hello everyone! Today I’m here to share with you all of the books that I read in the month of January. Now, somehow I managed to read a total of 10 books this month which I think is the most I’ve ever read within one month in a very long time.

I read pretty wildly this month, from paperbacks to hardbacks, e-books and even an audiobook. I read some new-to-me books as well as an old favourite, some books that I absolutely loved and some that were just okay to me.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
4 out of 5 stars

The Hammer of Thor (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #2) by Rick Riordan
3 out of 5 stars

Percy Jackson and the Singer of Apollo (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #5.5) by Rick Riordan 3 out of 5 stars

Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide (Pottermore Presents, #3) by J.K Rowling
4 out of 5 stars

Addicted To You (Addicted, #1) by Krista and Becca Ritchie
3.75 out of 5 stars

The Midnight Star (The Young Elites, #3) by Marie Lu
4.75 out of 5 stars

Am I Normal Yet? (The Spinster Club, #1) by Holly Bourne
4.5 out of 5 stars

You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan
4 out of 5 stars

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1) by Cassandra Clare
4.5 out of 5 stars

Saga (Saga, #1) by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
4 out of 5 stars

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Let me know down below what books you managed to read in January, and which was your favourite. My favourites were definitely Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne and The Midnight Star by Marie Lu. I’m so looking forward to reading the rest of the Spinster Club series next month, and I’m definitely satisfied with the conclusion of the Young Elites series.

Also let me know what you’re most looking forward to reading in the month of February!

emilyp0tter
– x0

SERIES I STARTED, CONTINUED & FINISHED | 2016

Hello everyone! Today I’m here to share with you all the series that I started, continued and finished in the year 2016. Now, when you read these lists you may become a little bit confused but let me explain. There will be a lot of repeats between these lists. I started a lot of series in 2016, I continued a lot of series in 2016 and I also finished a lot of series in 2016. Some series I started and continued, some I started and finished entirely, some I continued as well as finished in 2016, and some I merely continued in 2016 and that’s it. So, there will be some repetition here but I hope that I’ve explained this well enough so that you won’t be confused

So, without any further explanation here are all of the series I started, continued and/or finished in 2016:

SERIES I STARTED:

The Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski

Fever by Karen Marie Moning 

Harry Potter (Illustrated) by J.K Rowling (Illustrated by Jim Kay)

Tales From The Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare and Robin Wasserman

Never Never by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher

Star Wars Illustrated Novels

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Dark Artifices by Cassandra Clare

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover

Civil War: A Marvel Comics Event by Mark Millar, Steven McNiven, Dexter Vines and Morry Hollowed

The Androma Saga by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan

The Trials of Apollo by Rick Riordan

Deathnote by Tsugumi Ohba, Yuki Kowalski and Takeshi Obata

The Selection by Keira Cass

Pottermore Presents by J.K. Rowling

The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima – DNF

The Nevernight Chronicles by Jay Kristoff – DNF

Addicted by Krista and Becca Ritchie – DNF (I finished this one in 2017)

SERIES I FINISHED:

The Infernal Devices (Manga) by Cassandra Clare and Hye-Kyung Baek

Never Never by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher

Tales From The Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare and Robin Wasserman

The Lux by Jennifer L. Armentrout

The Winner’s trilogy by Marie Rutkoski

Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover

The Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan

The Selection by Keira Cass

SERIES I CONTINUED:

Fever by Karen Marie Moning 

The Infernal Devices (Manga) by Cassandra Clare and Hye-Kyung Baek

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Young Elites by Marie Lue

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

The Lux by Jennifer L. Armentrout

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

The Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan

The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Pottermore Presents by J.K. Rowling

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – DNF

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan – DNF (I finished this one in 2017)

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So there we have it! Let me know the series that you started, continued and/or finished in 2016, and which you loved or didn’t love. I’d love to know 🙂

emilyp0tter
– x0

STAND-ALONES I READ & ‘DID NOT FINISH IN 2016

Hello everyone! Today I’m here to share with you all the stand-alone novels that I read in 2016, as well as the stand-alone novels that I did not finish (i.e. ‘DNF’d’) in 2016. I didn’t read as many stand-alone novels as I would have liked to last year, so I’m hoping that in 2017 I can get the number up a little bit higher. Nevertheless, some of those that I read were absolute stand-outs, and I can’t wait to share them with you all.

STAND-ALONES I READ:

Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Star Wars: Dark Disciple by Christie Golden

Star Wars: Lost Stars by Claudia Gray

What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler

Too Late by Colleen Hoover

Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne, John Tiffany and J.K. Rowling

Oh The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss

November Nine by Colleen Hoover

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Simon vs The Homosapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (The Original Screenplay) by J.K. Rowling

STAND-ALONES I DNF-‘D:

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

SHORT STORIES I READ:

The Staff of Serapis by Rick Riordan

Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell

Maybe Not by Colleen Hoover

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So there they are! The stand-alone novels that I read (and did not finish) in 2016. Let me know which you finished last year, and if any of them are the same as mine.

emilyp0tter
– x0