Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen

*I received an advanced readers copy from Penguin Random House UK for review*

Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books, February 21st 2017

Edition: Ebook, 224 pages

Goodreads Link

Synopsis: Beware: Life ahead.optimists-black-uk
Sixteen-year-old Petula de Wilde is anything but wild. A former crafting fiend with a happy life, Petula shut herself off from the world after a family tragedy. She sees danger in all the ordinary things, like crossing the street, a bug bite, or a germy handshake. She knows: life is out to get you.
The worst part of her week is her comically lame mandatory art therapy class with a small group of fellow misfits. Then a new boy, Jacob, appears at school and in her therapy group. He seems so normal and confident, though he has a prosthetic arm; and soon he teams up with Petula on a hilarious project, gradually inspiring her to let go of some of her fears. But as the two grow closer, a hidden truth behind why he’s in the group could derail them, unless Petula takes a huge risk. Continue reading “Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen”

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

My rating: 4/5 stars

Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss, #3)

Prior to reading Isla and the Happily Ever After, I had not considered YA Contemporary Romance as a genre I would enjoy. Romance in general has never been something I searched for in what I read. However, this read has definitely influenced my outlook on YA romance. Admittedly, I placed a huge pressure on Stephanie Perkins and this novel as, at the time, I decided that it would influence whether I read more YA ConRom or not.
Stephanie Perkins did not disappoint.

The opening chapter is charming and funny, making you instantly fall in love with the central character, Isla. The first person narrative allows you to experience Isla’s inner dilemma’s, alongside her joy and love and every other emotion this novel emits. It’s immersive. You become Isla through this narrative. And you rooted for all the characters to have a happily ever after as they were three-dimensional.

The pacing does lull at times, however the overall plot is engaging and amusing. Additionally, Stephanie’s piece is heavily influenced by art, in every form; which is fitting considering the settings, such as Paris, Barcelona and New York.

This was an easy, fluffy read which made me laugh, cry and smile. Hopefully, I will be able to read the previous books in the companion series soon. Praise to Perkins.

Have you read Isla and the Happily Ever After? Share your opinions down below!

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

My rating: 3/5 stars

Red Queen (Red Queen, #1)

Red Queen was a massively hyped book with a premise which I adored. However the execution could have been stronger.
While reading, I felt as if the pace of the beginning was too slow, taking too long to get into the action. Plus, certain scenes were difficult to picture, especially chapter 7 as the descriptions seemed all over the place. The story as a whole only became entertaining and immersive after the half way point.
Additionally, towards the end it was revelation after revelation, most of which were expected.

Furthermore, the characters felt under developed and quite forgetful. Mare, the main protagonist, was basic, as if her personality had been lifted from the textbook of How to Write Female YA Protagonists. I have read her personality a hundred times, there was nothing original there. Because of this, I found I couldn’t empathize with not just Mare, but the entire cast; even the main antagonist lack depth, with little to no feasible motivation for their actions.
Also, this book contains ‘instalove’, a common trope in YA which I detest.

On a more positive note, the world within the novel is something I wish too explore more, abeit through a different character’s eyes. I will most likely be reading the sequel Glass Sword, however it is certainly not at the top of my TBR pile.

What did you think of Red Queen? Leave a comment below!

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
by Michelle Hodkin

My rating: 4/5 stars

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #1)

I marathoned the entire trilogy back in April 2015 and adored the majority of the first two novels. However, the third concluded the series in a largely disappointing manner.

During the first installment I quite enjoyed the first person narrative as it helped me engage with the story and made the threats and horror element all the more terrifying. Mara became an unreliable narrator of sorts, and this was an effective reveal that made me question the previous events within the novel. The story is told by Mara, so if we couldn’t trust her version of it, who could we rely on for the truth? Mara was unable to remember the past, the event that geared her change in reality, and others were reluctant to tell her what they knew. It was a mystery, a haunting one, which effectively made my heart pound.
Sadly, the horror element and daunting atmosphere faded during the second book and was not at all present in the third.

I found the pace to be nice and steady, only quickening during the most action orientated or heart pounding scenes. However, again, this was not the way it appeared in the third novel.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer ends with a bang, quite a literal one. But also, a mind-blowing bang as your only reaction is “What the f-“. It was fabulous in that sense, and so was the conclusion to the second novel. However, once again, the third book failed to deliver.

I did enjoy the book, I engaged and fell in love with Noah. Although, reflecting on it 18 months later I realize that, he probably was not that amazing. But, my young imagination propelled my love.

Being Productive While Lacking Motivation

Sometimes, you can be utterly and truly in love with a project or a hobby. But, when it actually comes to reading that novel, writing that short story, baking that cake, you find that you can’t. It can feel as if there is a wall, between you and your favourite activity. You know in your mind that you adore doing what you do and that taking part in that hobby or activity boosts your satisfaction, but you seem physically unable to actually do it.

With reading, it’s called a reading slump. A term used when you just cannot seem to pick up your book, when your reading habit unconsciously goes from everyday to twice a week or once a month. But, what do we call it when it happens to other hobbies or projects? When you lose motivation to do the simplest of activities that bring you enjoyment. Continue reading “Being Productive While Lacking Motivation”

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Across the Universe
Beth Revis

My rating: 2/5 stars

Across the Universe (Across the Universe, #1)

I must admit, this was a cover buy. I did not read the synopsis for this novel before I began reading. And, admittedly, I probably should have, because then I would know that this is definitely NOT my type of novel.

This novel is written with a dual perspective, which swaps between Amy and Elder. However, Amy is frozen for the first half of the novel, and I found that I couldn’t support either of the main protagonists as they were whiny and lacked common sense. Nothing makes me cringe more, than witnessing the main protagonist make a stupid decision, when all the right decision required was a little bit of common sense.

The romance between Amy and Elder was a classic example of ‘instalove’. The entire basis of Elder’s attraction to Amy was her appearance, her red hair in the sea of brunettes. If she also had brunette hair, the story would not have happened the way it did – in fact, she probably would not have been spoken to by Elder and just left in the Hospital to live out her life.

I found it difficult to engage with the narrative and, although I didn’t expect some of the revelations, I did not feel an ounce of surprise.

I’m certainly not interested in reading the sequel, which is disappointing as I had heard amazing reviews regarding this novel.

The Required Reading List and Why You Shouldn’t Ignore It

Most teenagers have now returned to the mundane life of education, whether that is Secondary School, Sixth Form or University . And, for those studying Literature, a new academic year means a new required reading list. A list of all the prose, poetry and drama you are obligated to read in order to complete your studies this year.

No doubt, as the same with every year, you have that urge to ignore your required reading list, because who needs to read the entire text when you have Google at your fingertips? You, you need to read the entire text, and there are many reasons why.

Continue reading “The Required Reading List and Why You Shouldn’t Ignore It”

Four Houses by Victoria Scott

Four Houses
by Victoria Scott

My rating: 4/5 stars

Four Houses

Four Houses is presented in reverse order, with the ending of the story taking place at the beginning. This narrative structure may not have been essential, but it was effective. The main question surrounding the narrative is “How did she get here? And where is here?”, and this is kind of answered towards the end. It’s a unique twist on the typical narrative structure, as, if it was told chronologically, we would have been questioning which house the main character would choose.

I found the ending slightly disappointing as it was left quite open, there was no definitive explanation behind the events of the story, and the ‘explanation’ we received was not what I had expected – I expected a fantasy element to be introduced, however, it wasn’t.

The story primarily focuses on the sense of touch. The tactile feel of items and the world, which created a sensual atmosphere. This is reinforced by the lack of dialogue, as it allows for a fuller description without being pulled out by the dialogue. I have never read anything quite like this, I don’t think anything has ever created such an engaging and enveloping atmosphere in my experience.

You can read this for free on Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/story/4062383…