It’s 2018!

First of all, Happy New Year.

On my end, I have a headache. Today is just… Staying in bed, snuggling beneath my duvet and cozying up with my current read.

Needless to say, I’ve been forced to admit that my days of reckless partying are over. 🙁

But instead of mourning that, I’ll take pleasure in knowing that no party, means far less hungover reading.

2017 was a… crap year in so many ways.

And yet, it also introduced quite a few minor successes that made it all bearable. Friends. Books. Authors. Etc. Apart from my family, 2017 definitely mostly consisted of the bookish community. No complaints there.

So what about 2018?

I want to:

  • Beat The Backlist — I have so many backlist titles that I’m gonna do my darnest to not buy any newer books. (bookboxes don’t count, don’t be silly)
  • Aim for 100 books this year — I didn’t quite reach it in 2017, but that’s not gonna stop me.
  • Try to blog and review and bookstagram more.

So that’s my bookish plans so far.

What’s yours?

Review: One Night That Changes Everything by Lauren Barnholdt

One Night That Changes Everything by Lauren Barnholdt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ – Near Perfect, easily one of my all-time favorites.

Warning: May contain spoilers.

Eliza’s parents are away for the weekend, and she’s all settled to cozy up with her two best friends at home—until she discovers that her purple notebook is gone. A phone call reveals that her super-secret notebook is in the hands of her ex-boyfriend and his friends. And they have some tasks she needs to perform in order to get it back.

Oh, wow. This is the kind of story that while it ends well, is something that could easily happen today—with a far more disastrous outcome.

I still enjoyed it, though. The writing was light, the characters were funny sometimes, and the plot wasn’t completely farfetched.

I have to admit, that I personally isn’t a fan of the mention of drugs. This happened in some other YA contemporaries I’ve read too. It’s not that I try to deny that drugs are a thing when it comes to teens, it’s more that… it comes off as shallow. Like it’s only there to solicit a reaction from the reader that drugs are bad.

Which it is—no doubt about that. But a few lines mentioning how a side-character is so in love with the stoner-kid that she almost ends up in jail because she agrees to hold his stash? Not the way I would have chosen to incorporate the “don’t do drugs” message.

Alas, I’m getting off-topic. This particular hiccup didn’t derail me from enjoying the story, and it’s not the only book where it has been and issues for me either.

Despite the bullying/blackmailing theme, I really liked the story. The prospect of doing the things you’ve always been afraid of is just… thrilling. And I especially enjoyed the part that while she was forced to do this, she ended up without regrets afterwards.

To me, it shows two sides of youth:
The ugly side with blackmail and bullying.

But also the liberating and carefree nature of being young and living the life. I am not talking #YOLO, but more along the lines of “This is my life, and I want to make the best of every crappy situation I get.”

And I find the latter to be a very important thing to remember. Especially when you’re young.

I recommend this books for people who enjoy light-reads, not-too-farfetched plots, books about friendships, contemporary ya, and teenage love.

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Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ – Near Perfect, easily one of my all-time favorites.

Warning: May contain spoilers.

Juliette’s touch is lethal. Sucking the energy from living people whenever she makes skin-to-skin contact with other people.

And that sucks. A lot.

Which is why she’s locked in isolation, with no one to talk to. That is, until she gets herself a cellmate.

Oh, wow. This was not a light read—at all. It was heavy on emotions, anxiety, fear and, most of all, the absence of hope.

Juliette’s pain was both easy, and impossible, to fully relate to. The descriptions fully explained how much she loathed her very existence, but at the same time, her situation isn’t something that anyone can empathize with. Sure, her sense of guilt, self-hatred and sorrow from being tossed away by her parents—the two people who should technically love her no matter what. That was all easy to understand.

But her fear of hurting someone with her touch, and actually enjoying it? Oh boy. I don’t think I can relate to that at all.

And I’m kinda glad that I don’t have to.

The story isn’t described in the same sense as many other science fiction stories, and I kinda enjoyed that part. There’s enough to get the sense that the world has seen better days, but at the same time, it wasn’t a focus on the world building. It was all raw emotions and Juliette’s observations.

Also… I totally call dibs on Warner from the start. (^__^)

Would recommend to fans of hunger games. And even fans of the Lunar Chronicles. Since I finished Lunar Chronicles just days before I started this one, I can say that while they aren’t similar, the two writing styles did their best to highlight different aspects of the reading experience.

Just read it.

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Do publishers not care about mental illness?

Okay, so… This will be salty. Fair warning. It will also be deeply personal. And probably a bit rambly.

It stems from the fact that thr other day I got a beautiful book in the mail. It was a highly anticipated sequel.

But it was promptly ruined when I tried placing it on the shelf. You see, for some unexplainable reason, the publisher decided to make them different sizes.

You may be sitting there wondering if I’m overreacting, and you might be right. But I am so tired of this happening to me.

Now, why would this be such a problem for me? Because I’m diagnosed with a very mild form of OCD.

No, I’m not a “neat freak”, a “perfectionist” or any of the other completely rude words often thrown in my face. I have the diagnosis. I have the symptoms, and I feel the physical discomfort when I ignore the urge to act on it. I can’t just “relax”, because I’m physically unable to do just that.

Are you aware how many different ways you can organise a bookshelf?

Height, author, title, genre, publisher, publication year, format, series, standalones, rainbow, sub genre etc.

I’ve been through them all, and only separating formats, then height, then author, then series has eased my mind enough to relax when I’m in the room.

So what do I do with mismatched series? I hide them. Legit. I stuff them on the bottom shelf, out of sight. When I have friends over, or I take a shelfie to share online? The mismatched books are never on there.

That’s a promotional fail on publishers part.

And the worst part? It’s not the physical symptoms. It’s not the knowledge that I spent money on something that essentially will bring me discomfort.

No, the worst part is that I feel bad.

I feel guilty for deliberately hiding the books. I feel guilty towards the authors, the cover designers, and even the publishers who are at fault in the first place.

So I end up buying the right editions, hoping the online retailer have labelled it correctly.

Is that the end game? To make me feel guilty enough to buy duplicates?

If so, that’s a big slap in the face to anyone who suffers from mental illnesses.

So here’s my proposal:

Since you all love your different heights and editions, then name them. In the same way beds are named King, Queen, Single and Double.

Don’t call a mass market paperback a “paperback”. Don’t call and indie published book a “paperback”. And don’t call five different sizes of hardcovers the same thing.

It’s thoughtless.

Show that you care about your readers. Your customers.

Please share this if you’re tired of this, as well. And feel free to comment your own thoughts below.

Note: I’m well aware that there are other forms of mental ilnesses, and many different variants of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that doesn’t match my own. If I offended you, triggered you or in any way harmed you, please shoot me an email at Bookishreview@gmail.com and I will amend it to the best of my ability.

Review: The Kiss by Lucy Courtenay

The Kiss by Lucy Courtenay

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

★ ★ ★ ★ – Kept me interested all through and I liked it.

Delilah kisses a french boy on a beach in France, after he uses an old greek myth as a pickup-line. Back home, everything begins to feel weird, and after accidentally causing her best friend’s break-up, she puts on her big-girl pants and tries to mend everything.

“The Kiss” was an interesting read. It had a lot of things that I didn’t expect, drinking, drugs, parties, and some pg-13 action. Not that I complain. Much.

The characters were definitely the highlight. Delilah wasn’t the typical heroine, but how she grows towards the end was pretty impressive, furthermore, I kinda enjoyed that the hot guy had a kinda geeky hobby.

I don’t know who I’d recommend it to. The book was enjoyable, but I don’t think it’s for everyone. It’s definitely not a children’s book, and the subjects are probably more suited for New Adult, and older Young Adults. But it was interesting enough.

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Review: Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

★ ★ ★ ★ – Kept me interested all through and I liked it.

“Ruby Red” is the first book in the “Ruby Red” Trilogy.

Gwen is a rather normal teenager—apart from the fact that she descends from a line of female time travelers. Wrapped in mystery, Gwen can only spectate as her Cousin is trained and prepared for the day she’ll receive her powers. Except, at a twist of fate, it turns out that Gwen—unprepared and ignorant—is the gifted one.

It’s really hard to review this trilogy. I read them back-to-back, and for me all three books feel more like one book, than three separate novels.

So if you’re going to read this one, prepare to read the other two, as well. Since this one ends on a huge cliffhanger.

With that said, if you take away the hiccups with the plot arc (Which spans over all three books, and is pretty decent) then you have a sweet teenage romance with some time travel on your hands.

It’s a very light read, and while the prologue and epilogue may confuse you a bit, (It did with me) then I can promise you that the writer will explain that part… eventually.

The whole time-travel part is pretty hard to understand, but I honestly found it refreshing that the MC didn’t know all the answers either. Honestly, it made it more fun to discover everything alongside the character.

I wasn’t a fan of the family feud. Gwen lives with her aunt, cousin, mom, siblings, grandmother and great-aunt. All of them are somewhat hot-headed and can be downright cruel to each other. I get the whole competition thing, but I would have just hoped there would be more support. Maybe that’s just me, though.

I do have to admit, that “Ruby Red” doesn’t live up to the potential it could have been—or at least what I expected it to be. This is of course my own opinion, but I found that it could have been so much more. As it is, it was just an enjoyable read for me. Nothing more, nothing less.

Plus, the cover is gorgeous. Who else would like to bring back such dressing gowns as the norm? Anyone? No? Just me, then…

I would recommend this book if you don’t mind insta-love, and you just want a pretty relaxed read with some timey-wimey fun thrown in.

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Review: The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen

The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

★ ★ ★ – Finished, and found it okay, but with room for improvement.

“The Art of Truth or Dare” is a YA Contemporary.

Ella is the shy girl—the artistic soul who resigns herself to be a wallflower. Until she finds the King of the school’s sketchbook. As she battles with her art project, her French teacher assigns Alex Bainbridge as Ella’s tutor.

I wanted to love this story—I really did. The Main Character was an art-lover, and her romantic tale with Alex was sweet. They were great together.

But there were so many things that ruined it for me. The two main reason was this:

– The LGBT character: I liked that he was there. But I really didn’t like his attitude or personality. I got his dislike of Alex, but I didn’t think it was fair that he purposely punished Ella for it.

– The obsession with the dead painter was cute at first—even humorous. But his letters and journal entries, made the book seem like I was studying for finals. And there was a lot of letters with the sole purpose of being filler.

I’ve always had a weakness for the nerdy girl who gets with the prince charming. And therefore I had hoped to like this book more.

It is a sweet story. I kinda liked her conversations with her super-idol (the dead painter) and I could easily see how it would have fitted to a situation where the idol was a member of a boyband.

The story started off nice, but those letters, and other entries in italics just snapped me right out of the book.

With that said, it’s not a bad book. I just didn’t care about the painter as much as I cared about the characters.

I would recommend this one for people who enjoy YA love stories. And who doesn’t mind getting an art and history lecture while at it. (I don’t know if the painter actually lived or not, though.)

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Review: Fairest by Marissa Meyer

Fairest: Levana’s Story by Marissa Meyer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ – Near Perfect, easily one of my all-time favorites.

Warning: This review may contain spoilers. Be warned. I really have no clue what constitutes spoilers nowadays.

“Fairest” is the backstory on the Lunar Chronicles antagonist; Queen Levana—the evil queen. It’s set before the events in Cinder, but I have to agree with the author that it would be good to read in-between “Cress” and “Winter”. This book was what made me devour the rest of the series in two days.

Princess Levana hates the sight of her true self. After an incident when she was a young child, her body is now covered in burns. Hiding behind the glamour from her bio-electric manipulation, she hopes that one day the people of Lunar will forget about her ugly self. Suffering from her beautiful sister’s endless torments, Levana finds solitude in the friendship with a guard whom she has a big crush on. Deciding to take matters into her own hands, she device a plan to get him through manipulation. She just need to look like his deceased wife.

Oh. Wow. I. Can’t. Even.

This book is everything I never knew that I really wanted, needed and desired.

In my reviews of the first three books, I’ve mentioned how much I wished for more information on the character’s past. Their motivations, and what made them to who they are.

And this book did just that, and whoa… Even now—three days after I finished the book—I’m still baffled with feelings over this book.

What I loved the most: Beautifully described, I loved how the author managed to make me feel Levana’s self-loathing without making her whiny. I sympathized with the young princess whose trust was shattered by none other than her older sister.

(view spoiler)

I can’t stress how amazing I found the character development. Often in books, I find that the author doesn’t give their characters enough flaws, but that is not the case here. Levana was crafted to perfection. Her scars, her ambitions, her motivation and even her delusions tugged on my heartstrings.

Alright, I’m going to talk about the plot next, because… feelings. So pardon the spoiler tag.

(view spoiler)

In a way, I think that had she had someone to love her, Levana would have become a great Queen instead of the evil one. Of course, then we wouldn’t have the series, but you know… I’m invested in this character damn.

The plot isn’t cute or lovely at all. But it is amazing.

The story follows a teenage Levana as she nurses her school girl crush on her married guard, tries to avoid her diabolic sister and practices her glamour to perfection.

Many years after the incident, Levana still has nightmares of the time where her sister—Cinder’s mom—held her down as flames licked her skin. We see how she lives in the shadows of her sister, and how she is tormented on an everyday basis.

It wasn’t pleasant to read this story. The bullying from one sister to another. The insecurities. The self-hatred. It made my stomach churn, and while I still hate Levana’s character in the chronicles, it made me want to jump into the book to give the poor princess a hug, and take her far away.

As the story goes on, we see how Levana finally snaps after she meets the wife of her crush—his very pregnant wife. Obsessed, Levana starts spiraling after Winter is born. Taking on the form of his dead wife, Levana basically tortures her crush into her bed. And after that, she forces him to marry her—although, she claims he had a choice, but we all know he hadn’t.

There are so many sides to Levana. She’s smart and ambitious—something her older sister definitely isn’t. When it comes to court business, her words are often overlooked, but it’s clear that she is as manipulative in politics as she is in her everyday life.

When Cinder is born, Levana’s sister—Channary—starts to cough more and more. It is discovered that she has an incurable lung disease, and eventually, Channary passes away.

And that’s how Princess Levana became Queen Regent, as a placeholder until Cinder—or Selene as she is named—is of age to overtake the throne.

The power turns the already delusional girl into a psychopath. Her paranoia grows, and she finds herself envying her step-daughter, wishing that her husband finally gave his heart.

Her envy extends to the baby Princess Selene(Cinder). And she starts dreaming that the girl didn’t exist. Somehow, her daydreams turn into reasoning as to why the true heir had to be killed. And what better way to do it, than with a fire? At least, Levana is merciful enough to let her niece’s life end there—a courtesy that Channary didn’t show Levana.

Of course, us semi-sane people can’t follow that kind of logic. But it becomes her excuse, her reason to kill off the true heir.

After the death of the princess, Levana’s guard husband starts to feel a bit unsettled by the rumors. And it spirals into fights about when he wants to give her his heart for real. After a while it’s clear to Levana that she’ll never receive his love, and then decides to kill him too.

I mean… THAT was clearly the logical thing to do to your so-called beloved. O_o (hide spoiler)]

While the story gives an in-depth look into Levana’s life, we also see how the biological warfare is created in order to take possession of Earth. We see Lunar’s inner workings, and it prepares us pretty well for the last book “Winter” who will follow Levana’s step daughter.

I just… this book is my favorite. By far.

I would recommend this to everyone. Even if you haven’t read the Lunar Chronicles. Since the book is set before the events in “Cinder” it can technically be read as a stand-alone.

Especially to all my writer-friends who might struggle to craft the perfect villain. This story would probably serve as inspiration for many—I know it does for me.

Just…. Read it. You most likely won’t regret it.

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