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. 

Sunday, 26 August 2018

REVIEW: Jinxed by Amy McCulloch

Pages: 323
Format: ARC Paperback
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Sci-Fi
Release Date: August 9th 2018
Buy The Book: Book Depository - A Great Read

Lacey Chu has big dreams of becoming a companioneer for MONCHA, the largest tech firm in North America and the company behind the  "baku" - a customisable smart pet that functions as a phone but makes the perfect companion too. When Lacey finds out she hasn't been accepted into Profectus - the elite academy for cutting edge tech - it seems her dreams are over. Worst of all, rather than getting to choose one of the advanced bakus, she’s stuck with a rubbish insect one.

Then, one night, Lacey comes across the remains of an advanced baku. Once it might’ve been in the shape of a cat but it’s now mangled and broken, no sign of electronic life behind its eyes. Days of work later and the baku opens its eyes. Lacey calls him Jinx – and Jinx opens up a world for her that she never even knew existed, including entry to the hallowed halls of Profecus. Slowly but surely, Jinx becomes more than just a baku to Lacey – he becomes her perfect companion. But what is Jinx, really? His abilities far surpass anything written into his code or built into his motherboard. He seems to be more than just a robotic pet. He seems ... real.


Jinxed is set in the not-too-far-off future, in a world that has advanced past the general use of smartphones. Inventor, Monica Chan, was inspired by her addiction to her smartphone to create robotic, animal companions that are able to do everything that a smartphone could, and more. These animals have become part of everyday life for people all around the world.

Our main character in this story is Lacey Chu. A creator herself, Monica is her ultimate hero. She dreams of working for the company that Monica started, Moncha, the company that her father also used to work for. Her ambitious and determined nature is something I admired about her character throughout the story. She had a goal that she would do anything to reach, but I appreciated how her opinions shifted as she learned more about the situation around her. 

Lacey discovers an abandoned cat baku and rebuilds it, calling it Jinx. I adored Jinx just as much as Lacey did. His witty comments were brilliant, and I was on edge waiting to find out what would happen to him next. Lacey’s growing bond with Jinx is one of the highlights of this story. With Jinx at her side, she ends up going to her dream school, Profectus

At Profectus, Lacey finds a friend in fellow student, Tobias. It’s pretty clear from the moment he’s introduced that he’s going to be a love interest, so there is a hint of romance within their story. What was more important to me, though, was Lacey’s relationship with her best friend, Zora, and her growing friendship with her whole team at Profectus.
  • Engineering. Lacey is a scientific badass with creator skills to be envied. We need more Mechanical Queens in YA.
  • Friendship. The friendship between Lacey and Zora is adorable and I want more of it. Also, the bond between people and their bakus is so interesting. Which leads me to…
  • Bakus. Oh boy, do I want a baku. Like, today. The idea of reaching a certain age and then getting to hurl your phone across a room to go and get a cute animal replacement? Count me in.
  • Mystery. There are so many things to wonder about in this story, and we end up with more questions than answers by the end of it. I’m not saying prepare yourself for a cliffhanger before you delve into this book, but be warned.
This is such an exciting concept that I had a feeling I’d love it before I even turned the first page. And I was right. There were chapters I absolutely could not put down, and the fast-paced ending had me on edge. The only thing that didn’t really work as much as the rest of the story for me was the romance between Lacey and Tobias. For some reason, I just didn’t feel the chemistry between them. But this is the first in a series, so I’ll probably change my mind further down the line!

Royal Rating:
  
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