Friday, 27 February 2015

Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

All the Bright Places
Title: All the Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven
Publisher: Random House Canada
Publication date: January 6, 2015
Genre(s): Young Adult (Paranormal/Werewolf)
Source: Unsolicited copy
Format: ARC 
Pages: 388
Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.
All the Bright Places broke me. I managed to read it during a buddy single sitting read. I could not put the book down and by the end of it my face was a hot mess. I couldn't breathe through my nose or read through the tears. This book was heartbreaking, beautiful, breathtaking, emotional, and full of life, hope, and dreams. I went into it knowing so many people loved it, and quite frankly I now completely understand their obsessive love and how this book, that wasn't even on my radar before I received it on my doorstep, is the next big contemporary novel. It doesn't hurt that it already got picked up for a movie and is in the middle of casting. 
I have never read a point of view like Finch's. I daren't close my eyes for one second in fear of being left behind with his running thoughts. If I had one word to describe his chapters it would be exhilarating. It was so hard trying to catch up to him. I was fascinated and completely immersed during his chapters. Jennifer Niven made everything so damn believable, and truly captured the way writers should write about mental illnesses. Finch's character is so strange and beautiful and you can't help but fall in love with him. I know my friend and I did. As for Violet, I felt she is sometimes overshadowed by Finch in reader's eyes but I really enjoyed her chapters too. Some people said it was unnecessary to have a dual POV but I believe seeing everything and Finch through Violet's eyes is really an eye opener for the readers. Violet and Finch's story is tragically beautiful. The struggle they both go through is so real that you can't help but root for them and wish them eternal happiness. I have not fully connected with book characters as much as I did with those two for a while. 
All the Bright Places deserves all the praise it got. It is its own book and comparing it to other contemporaries truly doesn't do it justice. It is the story of two unlikely teens getting together and fighting their own battles while trying to pursue happiness. It isn't the cookie cutter tragic teen story, I hope it is the start for the redefining of realistic contemporary YA fiction. Teens are people and they are all unique and different. Only when we start telling each of their stories can we really understand the complexity of life and people around us. All the Bright Places taught me that and so much more. To give you an indication of how loved this book is, I read this for a book club where out of the five people, four of them gave this book the full 5 stars. 
 

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Review: The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand


Title: The Last Time We Say Goodbye
Author: Cynthia Hand
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication date: February 10, 2015
Genre(s): Contemporary
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC
Pages: 400
The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn't look at her like she might break down at any moment.

Now she's just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that's all she'll ever be.

As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there's a secret she hasn't told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

Lex's brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn't have to be real to keep you from moving on.
I needed some time after reading this book to gather my thoughts and think about how I wanted to write this review. The Last Time We Say Goodbye deals with suicide, a very hard topic to read about and not sob through the entire book. This book was just amazing in so many ways.
The story begins a few weeks after Lex's brother, Tyler, has committed suicide. Her therapist has recommended that she start writing in this journal to let out some of the feelings that she's been keeping inside. Through these journal entries, we can see the struggles that she's facing and the things she refuses to tell anyone else. What I liked most about these entries was that we are able to connect with Lex emotionally, I could feel the pain and sadness she was going through and it really felt like I was right in her place. 
Soon after Lex starts writing in her journal, she starts seeing Tyler's ghost throughout the house. She keeps thinking that there's still more to his story and that she must find out what happened that night that would push him to end his life. 
The thing about this book is that it doesn't focus as much on Tyler's suicide as it does on the events that occur after. When all the surrounding people move on and forget, you're still stuck with a loss that is too difficult to get over. How do you move on from losing your own brother? We are able to see what it's like to be part of a family who's lost someone to suicide and this book describes it in the only way possible: heart-wrenching and bitter-sweet.
On a side note. I listened to All I Want by Kodaline on repeat while reading this book. It seemed to be a fitting song. Oh and don't forget a box of tissues as well.  


Saturday, 21 February 2015

Juhina's "currently" post - books, shows, music

So I have been meaning to do a post like this for a while. On the youtube channel I do a currently reading and currently watching korean dramas from time to time. I thought I would do something similar on the blog!

Since this is a book blog, let's start off with this one. These are the books that I am currently reading at the time of making this post. I am

Into the Darkest CornerA Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle, #1)

I am 100 pages into Into the Darkest Corner and boy is it addicting. This is an adult mystery thriller and it is super creepy and unsettling. I am buddy reading it and I'm having so much fun with all the theorizing going on. 

I am only on the second chapter of A Great and Terrible Beauty. This is the book club pick with the awesome GTA girls and I wasn't 100% impressed with the first chapter. Still, it is set in a boarding school, in England… and there are supernatural elements involved. 

Are you ready? there are several shows I'm currently watching right now. Some I do watch but I have paused, or they're on hiatus, so this won't be as long as mentioning everything that I watch. Other tv shows I watched not pictured (The Good Wife, Revenge, Awkward, and Madam Secretary)

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for The Mentalist

Grey's Anatomy: This show tugs at my heartstrings like no other show has ever done. I pretty much cry on every.single.episode. The show also gets better and better with each new season

Reign: A new addition to my watch list. I'm also up to date and I am loving the 16th century setting as well as the strong female protagonist. 

The Mentalist: I am two episodes behind, but this show aired its series finale on the third week of february. I am so sad that it's over because I love Patrick Jane and the whole team. 

The 100: Another new addition. The newest actually. Surprisingly when I first watched episode one, I truly disliked the show, but I picked it up several months later and marathon-ed the whole thing. Bellarke all the way and I truly love the strong female protagonist in this show too. 
Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Nashville

Nashville: A show I never thought I would enjoy but surprisingly it is addicting. I ended up marathoning all three seasons last year and now I'm up to date. I do get frustrated with Raina's story arc but other than that, it is highly enjoyable. Have I mentioned it centers around country musicians?

Modern Family: This show never gets old. Its writing is witty, funny, and laugh out loud. I honestly hope it never gets cancelled. 

The Mindy Project: This show had its ups and downs but the last couple of episodes were superb. I love Mindy Kaling and anything she writes and is involved in is guaranteed to be hilarious

Jane the Virgin: One of the few fall shows I picked up for 2014-2015. The telenovela feel of it is what makes it so unique. Also Rafael's handsome face doesn't hurt. 


File:Healer-p1.jpg File:Pride and Prejudice (Korean Drama)-p1.jpg

Healer: I am on episode 18 of this superb drama. I will probably be done with the whole drama (20 episodes) by the time this post is up. I had my doubts initially about it but the writing and the acting proved me wrong. I love how engaging and addicting the show is. 

Pride and Prejudice: I seem to only have around two to three episodes but this show suffers from an overload of information syndrome. I am so lost. So much politics and conspiring going on that I've pretty much given up on understanding what the hell is going on. I will be finishing it because I do want to figure out who's the bad guy in the show and the murder mystery too.


Here are some potential korean dramas I'll be checking out
Hyde, Jekyll and I 06
Jekyll and Hyde: A drama about a CEO of a theme park that suffers from split personality
Heart to Heart: About a girl with a social phobia that suffers from severe blushing
Kill Me, Heal Me: About a guy with seven different personalities 
Spy: A mother, son drama where one is a spy for North Korea, the other for South Korea

it has not escaped my attention that 3 of these 4 dramas center around psychological/mental illnesses. I am ver excited to see how the korean drama world tackles such topics! Also, Spy has Kim Jaejoong as the lead. That's all I need to know.. but with the bonus of a spy plot? i'm in.  

I pretty much get all my music through Songza's blogged 200 playlist. I'm telling you guys, this is the best thing ever. 

I am currently obsessed with The Do. I listen to both Trustful Hands and Despair constantly.

I'm also listening to Kiesza's Sound of a Woman album on repeat. 

A couple of other songs I discovered on Songza I think you should check out

And that's a wrap!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Lobna's most anticipated titles of 2015!



Title: The Last Time We Say Goodbye
Expected Release: February 10

Synopsis: The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn't look at her like she might break down at any moment. Now she's just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that's all she'll ever be. As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there's a secret she hasn't told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything. Lex's brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn't have to be real to keep you from moving on.

ThoughtsFrom reading the synopsis, we already know that this is going to be a sad book. These can generally be a hit or miss but  I have a feeling this will be a good one. I'm really intrigued to see how the story goes but I know this is definitely my kind of book and anyone else who loves a good sad story!



Title: All The Bright Places
Expected Release: January 6
Synopsis: Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him. Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death. When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

ThoughtsA cross-over between Eleanor & Park and The Fault In Our Stars? Yes please! And it's being made into a movie? Yes yes yes!!! A million times yess! The Fault In Our Stars is probably one of my all time favourite books and if this book is anything similar I will most definitely be picking it up!


Title: The Night We Said Yes
Expected Release: June 16
Synopsis: Before Matt, Ella had a plan. Get over a no-good ex-boyfriend. Graduate from high school without any more distractions. Move away from Orlando, Florida, where she’s lived her entire life. But Matt—the cute, shy, bespectacled bass player who just moved to town—was never part of that plan. And neither was attending a party that was crashed by the cops just minutes after they arrived. Or spending an entire night saying “yes” to every crazy, fun thing they could think of. Then Matt abruptly left town, and he broke not only Ella’s heart but those of their best friends, too. So when he shows up a year later with a plan of his own—to relive the night that brought them together—Ella isn’t sure whether Matt’s worth a second chance. Or if re-creating the past can help them create a different future. 

ThoughtsThe moment I finished reading the synopsis of this book, I knew I was going to get my hands on this one way or another. I absolutely adore these friendship type contemporaries and this book sounds amazing. It reminds me a lot of Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson, so I really hope it'll be just as great. June couldn't come any faster! 



Title: Vanishing Girls
Expected Release: March 10
Synopsis: Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara's beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it's too late.

Thoughts: Since meeting Lauren last September for her release of Rooms, I got to see a little preview of the cover of this book and I've been keeping an eye out for this ever since! Lauren Oliver is one of my favourite authors so regardless of how good it is, I know I'll be getting my hands on this! 








Title: P.S. I Still Love You (To All The Boys #2)
Expected Release: May 26
Synopsis: Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?


Thoughts: I absolutely LOVED the first book and basically anything written by Jenny Han. To All The Boys has become one of my all time favourites! I will definitely be buying this book on release day (or hopefully sooner?). If you haven't picked up the first book, go ahead and do so, you won't be disappointed.
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What are your most anticipated releases of 2015? Any of the ones
I just mentioned in this post?


Sunday, 15 February 2015

Double Review: The Kiss of Deception & Heartbreak Cafe

The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles, #1)
Title: The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles, #1)
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Publication date: July 8, 2014
Genre(s): Young Adult (Fantasy)
Source: Bought
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 489
She flees on her wedding day.

She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor's secret collection.

She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father.

She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan.

The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can't abide. Like having to marry someone she's never met to secure a political alliance.

Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love.
The Kiss of Deception was one of my most anticipated titles of 2014. I bought it as soon as it came out but unfortunately only got the chance to read it in January of 2015. I ended up buddy reading this and I must say that without the buddy read, it might have taken me ages to get through. It wasn't that it was slow.. per say.. it was just that once you find out who the prince and the assassin are (which I guessed correctly), it got boring. You find out halfway through the book.. and throughout the last half.. nothing significant happens.. and all you're waiting on is the next exciting chapter that the book promised. I was disappointed in the twist (which I don't think was a twist) in regards to who was who.. and I was disappointed in the direction the author took after that was revealed. 
I think the main protagonist, Lia, is selfish. There i've said it. romanticizing her situation and making her appear sympathetic isn't really going to deter my opinion. I get that she got the short end of the stick.. but an arranged marriage to keep two kingdoms at peace and not begin a war seems like a good enough reason for the sacrifice. It is like saying her happiness is equalled to the deaths of hundreds of people (soldiers, innocents, etc). It just frustrates me that she wasn't even asked to sacrifice her life.. it is an arranged marriage that may lead to love. And since we know one of the two handsome men is the prince… which she thought were both potential partners, I don't think it is far fetched to believe that. This whole plot was built on the selfishness of Lia and if I only rated the book on the character, I would have given it a 1 or 2. 
I did enjoy the first half of the book.. while I felt there was too little dialogue and we were told everything about the world either through Lia's memories or her just telling the readers. I wish the pacing of the book was more fast paced. However, I did enjoy it overall and I think many people would like the format of the book. 
No Experience Required (Heartbreak Cafe, #1)
Title: No Experience Required (Heartbreak Cafe, #1)
Author: Janet Quin-Harkin
Publisher: Ellingstar Media 
Publication date: April 21, 2014
Genre(s): Young Adult (Contemporary)
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC
Pages: 224
t’s 1989. Life's easy for DEBORAH LESLEY: she's up-market, drives her own flash car to school, and looks pretty good too. She's never had a job, either; but now her parents have split up, and she needs the money.

JOE GARBARINI is cool. He likes motorbikes, girls, and fun. He doesn't have time for much — he's running Heartbreak Café when he's not at school.

The Heartbreak Café is a noisy hangout on the north Californian coast. Joe's worked there for years, and knows what it takes. He's sure Debbie won't last a month — but Debbie's determined to put up with his wisecracks and prove him wrong. 
This book was published in 1989 and It really shows. I loved the easy breezy feel of the book. Rich girl's parents get divorced and she now has to get a job to keep her car by paying her insurance. I think this felt more middle grade than young adult and sometimes the main protagonist, Debbie, seems a bit too childish to be a senior in high school. 
It is a short book, but it was a quick fun read. It was fun seeing how Debbie managed her first ever job and her banter with the love interest.. though I think sometimes they took it way too far and the jump from hating each other to having feelings for each other was a bit too sudden. One thing though.. the overuse of exclamation points really annoyed me. An exclamation point follows the end of every sentence Debbie says! it got super awkward to read it because she would get excited over the most normal things! see? not fun. 
This is part of a series, and I would definitely recommend it to younger teens who want something light and fluffy to read. It reminds me of The Babysitter's Club as well as Sweet Valley books.