Sunday, 28 October 2018

REVIEW: What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

Pages: 433
Format: ARC Paperback
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's
Release Date: October 18th 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Buy The Book: A Great Read - Book Depository

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

Arthur is in New York for the summer with his parents and ends up working as an intern with his mother’s law company. Whilst on a coffee run, he ends up meeting Ben, a boy who has recently split with his boyfriend and is trying to send a box of his belongings back to him. Though they initially leave without trading numbers, the pair manage to reunite and find themselves on a series of dates.

The plot is genius. Especially during the first part of the book whilst the boys are searching for each other. Trying to find someone you had a chance encounter with is so much easier thanks to social media and the internet. That thought might be low-key creepy, but it makes for a hilarious plot point within this book, and an epic start to a summer romance. 

These characters are just too wonderful, honestly. Ben and Arthur don’t have a lot in common at first, but they end up sharing interests with each other along the way, which is something I adored about their relationship. What was especially great about them is that they each had their own flaws that they needed to work on throughout the story. Doubts they had about themselves and each other were acknowledged and fixed. 

The friendship groups here are iconic. Ben’s best friend, Dylan, is an absolute gem. Their friendship is literally perfect and I could easily read a whole spinoff just based around them visiting various coffee shops. Whilst we don’t get much time with Arthur’s friends due to him being away from them, I appreciated their group chat messages and FaceTime calls. Whilst there are difficulties between the friends in this story, you can see how much they truly care for each other. I’m all about strong and supportive friendships in YA. 

  • The narration from both POVs is wonderful. Usually when it comes to split POV stories, I tend to have a favourite, but that wasn’t the case with this one.
  • Rocky relationships. This book is a perfect example of how things don’t always work out how you wanted them to, but it doesn’t matter. Things can still work out for the best in the end.
  • Arthur’s love for Hamilton. A big Mood.
  • Ben’s work-in-progress story that he’s writing. HE’S SO ADORABLE, I CAN’T COPE.
  • Ansel Elgort. I cried laughing. That is all. 
 
This book is exactly the type of book I needed right now. Even though there was drama and disaster along the way, this ticks all the boxes for a cute read, Considering the slump I’ve been in when it comes to books lately, I needed something more fun, and this was perfect for the job. I’d definitely recommend picking this one up if you need something to put a smile on your face. Ben and Arthur are characters who will stay with me for a long time.
 

Royal Rating:

Monday, 1 October 2018

Harry Potter Reread #2: Philosopher's Stone


 
I’M DONE WITH THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE!!!

It took me a while to get there because I kept putting the book down for other books, but that’s the beauty of rereads, you can pick it up whenever. There’s no pressure. It’s been over eleven years since I last read the first book in the series, so it’s safe to say my reread was well overdue.

This time around, I really appreciated how closely the film followed the first book. Even though I hadn’t read it in so long, I knew most of the story word for word because of the movie, which goes to show how much content was taken directly from the book.

During this reread, I found the Dursleys a lot more difficult to put up with. When I was younger, they were just nasty characters who were annoying to read about, but now that I’m older, I can see how truly awful they were. The mistreatment of Harry in general was a more bitter pill to swallow, especially when it came to Snape. There are no excuses for bullying an eleven-year-old child.  


What I’d forgotten is how much of a savage Book Harry is. THIS BOY, HONESTLY. He definitely had more attitude to him than his on-screen counterpart, serving some brilliant one-liners that I wish had made it to the film. Something else I was able to appreciate more this time around was the friendship between Harry, Ron and Hermione. Their friendship is still one of my favourite things about this series and I enjoyed getting to relive their first meeting again.

One thing that was different for me with this reread was that I realised I preferred the movie ending to the actual book ending. I’d completely forgotten that our golden trio make it back to Kings Cross in Philosopher’s Stone. The ending of the film taking place as they’re leaving Hogwarts just seems more fitting than Harry having to re-join the Dursleys before we leave him. 


This time around, I also able to truly appreciate the cleverness in the writing and foreshadowing. The fact the Rowling had already planned out the way this story was going is so incredible, and you can see it clearly in the conversation Dumbledore has with Harry in the hospital wing.

It was so much fun getting to delve back into this world from the very beginning again and I’m hyped to move on to Chamber of Secrets!

Saturday, 15 September 2018

REVIEW: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

Pages: 300
Format: UK Paperback
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: July 24th 2018 
Genre: Contemporary
TW: Discusses suicide
Buy The Book: Book Depository - A Great Read

Life hasn't been easy for sixteen-year-old Aaron Soto, but with the help of his girlfriend he's slowly remembering what happiness might feel like.

Then Thomas shows up …

Thomas is smart and funny, and before long Aaron is spending all his time with him. But as Aaron's feelings for Thomas intensify, tensions with his other friends start to build.

Soon Aaron is faced with a choice - one that will make him question what it is he wants, and how far he'll go to get it.

Why does happiness have to be so hard?

OH BOY. This is one of those books that everybody seems to talk about. Despite hearing so much about it, it took me until the UK release to finally read it. And damn, was I excited. Through the heartbroken tweets of my fellow bloggers, I knew that this story was a bit of a sad one. I’ve lost count of the people I’ve seen sobbing online after finishing it. So, as excited as I was to finally start reading this book, I was also cautious. Whilst we’re here, can I get a round of applause for managing to dodge every single spoiler for this book? Except knowing I was in for Sad Times, I had no real idea of what was in store for me within the pages.  

More Happy Than Not takes places in our world, but at a time where a procedure that allows people to erase memories exists. Despite not originally believing in the idea, Aaron begins to look into it more when his life hits complications he could never have prepared himself for.  

The whole concept of this book is just so interesting. The idea of being able to forget certain things that have happened in life is as intriguing as it is terrifying. Weaving the procedure into the world we live in now was a great way of giving the story a creepy, dystopian vibe, whilst keeping the setting of our everyday lives.

Aaron owned my heart from merely a couple of pages in. His story is heartbreaking and whilst it’s easy to understand why he thinks the way he does sometimes, there were moments when I wanted to shake some sense in to him. His relationship with the other characters were complex and kept me hooked because I wasn’t quite sure how things were going to turn out between everyone. 

Each character in this story is written with such depth. Even minor characters who only appear a handful of times have a distinctness about them that makes them unique. You can’t help but get attached to them and feel a part of the story.


- Realistic teen characters. Believable, relatable, accurate voices. The characters in the book are perfect for their target age range. 

- Emotional rollercoaster. Expect to feel a little bit of everything throughout this story. 

- Plot Twists for Days. 

Now. LET ME TALK ABOUT PART ZERO. Oh boy, was I unprepared for that whole chapter. It has to be one of the best plot twists I’ve read in a few years. I WAS FLOORED. Considering I’d planned on doing a little bit of reading before bed, I reached this part of the book at about 12:30am and of course couldn’t put it down. So, guess who ended up utterly sleep deprived in the morning? This girl. I was tired but happy though because thanks to the awful reading slump I can’t seem to shake off, no book had made me read into the early hours of the morning in a long time. 

A whole emotional journey with wonderfully written characters. Even though I wish I’d been able to read this story sooner, book was well worth the wait. My heart was crushed, torn apart, severely beaten. But overall, the story made me more happy than not. *finger guns*

Royal Rating:


 

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Harry Potter Reread #1: Accepting my Hufflepuff Identity



After deciding to finally start rereading Harry Potter this summer, I figured it would be the perfect time to write a series of blog posts on my relationship with the books over the years, and how things have changed since first discovering the series. For this post, I wanted to discuss an important part of Hogwarts life for any student: their house.

When Pottermore first opened in 2011, I was beyond excited. Finally, I was going to get the Hogwarts letter I deserved and be sorted into my own house. Up until that point, I simply considered myself a Gryffindor because generally we were brainwashed into thinking Gryffindor was the superior house because that’s where all our main heroes came from, right?

Regardless, when I finally managed to find the magical quill that took me to the Pottermore site, I was ready to embrace my actual house. Taking the sorting quiz was the most exciting thing that 18yo me had done on the internet. When I’d answered all the questions as honestly as I could because I wanted my true house, I was finally sorted into Ravenclaw. It suited me perfectly, Blue is one of my favourite colours. Ravens are one of my favourite birds. I even had a nickname in high school based on a Ravenclaw (my friends ended up calling me Cho because the actress’ name is Katie. I don’t understand the logic of my 13yo classmates either, but still). Also, Ravenclaw was closely associated with a love of books and knowledge and history, and generally all the things I was an absolute nerd for. I was thrilled with my house. 

 
Over the next few years, I was a happy Ravenclaw. I bought badges, keyrings, and I even had my mum knit me a Ravenclaw scarf. Every time I came across a Hogwarts sorting test online, (Buzzfeed, I’m looking @ you), I’d always get sorted into Ravenclaw. It was my house, and I loved it.

And then, two years ago, someone *glares at the team behind Pottermore* decided it would be a good idea to let us retake the test. Amazing, I thought. I get to do the test again! Relive that special moment from my teens when I finally got to virtually wear the Sorting Hat. My na├»ve-self had no worries. I was forever getting Ravenclaw, after all. I hadn’t really changed in the few years since taking the test the first time, so my answers would probably stay the same. My house wasn’t going to dramatically change, right?

Haha. 

The look on my face when the Pottermore page turned yellow at the end of the test, announcing that I was a Hufflepuff. It was goodbye to ravens and blue, and hello to badgers and yellow. Pottermore had given me a new house and an identity crisis. WHO EVEN AM I ANYMORE? It didn’t help that my best friend, a Slytherin who has never not been sorted into Slytherin, did the most typically Slytherin thing she could and teased me over it with as many AVPM references as possible. And never really stopped.


͛ (@KatieBookQueen) 31 January 2016

I wasn’t the only one to be thrown into a completely different house. My sister, who was also a Ravenclaw, ended up a Slytherin. We went from being same-house siblings, to apposing-house rivals.

Whilst my bookish, nerd-self fitted right in with the description of what a Ravenclaw should be, the Hufflepuff traits didn’t exactly scream me. Patience, me? Not one ounce of it. Least rivalry with others? I wish I had that trait. Hufflepuffs are just generally nice, friendly people. I avoid interaction as much as I can, complain over literally anything, and am generally scared of everything that this world has to throw at me. DID I REALLY BELONG IN HUFFLEPUFF?

 
On the road to accepting my Hufflepuff identity, having a Slytherin best friend and sister has helped me to realise that maybe I do fit into my new house more than I originally thought. Both of them are quick to point out that we have very different ways of dealing with things. They both manipulate situations to get their way whilst I’m too worried about other people and potential consequences to everything. I'm fiercly loyal to the people and things that I like, and I did have some of that dedication trait that Hufflepuffs are suppose to have. So maybe I did belong in my new house, but it wasn’t easy to accept.

The adjustment period was a difficult one. I tried to throw myself into my new, Hufflepuff lifestyle. The first thing I wanted to do? Get some merch to show off my new house. Being the exceptionally broke young adult that I am, unable to afford literally anything, I thought Primark would be my saviour in this situation. Wrong. Their blatant favouritism towards Gryffindor and Slytherin meant that I couldn’t find one single piece of Hufflepuff merch in my two local stores. It also didn’t help that I found Ravenclaw stuff whilst I was there. It was like seeing an ex in public (not that I know what that’s like, but you get the picture). Eventually, after trawling through stores for affordable Harry Potter merch that actually included my house, I came home with a Hufflepuff tea coaster from Forbidden Planet, which I still use today. My second Hufflepuff item came from my wonderful friend Jasmine, who sent me a postcard from her trip to the Harry Potter Studio Tour. It was starting, I was becoming a Hufflepuff.  


Then my best friend got me the Hufflepuff anniversary edition of the first book for my birthday, and I enjoyed getting to read about my new house, its founder and its students. The biggest bonus about becoming a Hufflepuff was, by far, Newt Scamander. After years of being known through the books as the house from which Cedric Diggory came from, we finally had another amazing Hufflepuff to look up to. The more time went on, the more I grew to love being a Hufflepuff. 

Some of my favourite people are Hufflepuffs. Yes, Taeyong from NCT, I'm looking at you.
Whilst rereading the books, maybe I am taking offense at Hufflepuff’s reputation just a little bit. The first time I read the series, I’ll admit I didn’t really think twice about Hufflepuff. But now? The chapter on the Hogwarts Express when the characters end up discussing potential houses? Mentions of Gryffindor and Ravenclaw get thrown around as good options, meanwhile Hufflepuff doesn’t get a look in. Poor Harry being gloomy, thinking he’ll be put in Hufflepuff because it’s seen as the lesser house? RUDE. Considering I originally didn’t want to be a Hufflepuff myself, I’d defend my house with my life now. I’m still only rereading the first book at the moment, but I’m looking forward to taking more note of Hufflepuff as I read, along with giving extra love and appreciation to my favourite Hufflepuff, Tonks.


After two years, I’ve fully accepted my Hufflepuff identity and have thrown myself head-first into my house. Ironically, yellow has also become my new favourite colour, especially to wear. Considering I was never a huge fan of mustard yellow in the past, I’m definitely putting it down to the Hufflepuff Effect. My time as a Ravenclaw was great, but these days I’m a happy and exceptionally loyal Hufflepuff. 

Now I just need to convince my mum to knit a new scarf. 

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