28 February 2015

Monthly wrap up for February

Another month gone! Even though February is the shortest month of the year this one felt quite long to me - maybe because so much has happened this month that I feel like it's been longer than it actually has. February was, as aforementioned, quite eventful and I read a total of 12 books this month and a single short story. I somehow managed to read a book for each rating this month, I think it's a first. I also managed to read all the books, I have for review, that's releasing next month - and the reviews are already scheduled. Yes - I've been productive this month! Oh well, the books I read were;

Quick update; Somehow I managed to read the rest (half) of Fifty Shades of Grey on Friday, start Fifty Shades Darker (the sequel) and somehow finishing that today - on the very last day of February. So that gives me a total of 14 books this month!
  1. Cruel Beauty (Cruel Beauty Universe #1) by Rosamund Hodge ★★★★★
  2. If You Find This Letter by Hannah Brencher ★★★★★
  3. Fish Out of Water by Natalie Whipple ★★★★☆
  4. The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry ★★★☆☆
  5. Lord of the Flies by William Golding ★☆☆☆☆
  6. Mind Games by Teri Terry  ★★★★★
  7. Fragile Bones: Anna and Harrison (One-2-One #1) by Lorna Schultz Nicholson  ★★★★☆
  8. Reluctantly Married by Victorine E. Lieske ★★★★★
  9. Jonathan Livingstone Seagull by Richard Bach ★☆☆☆☆
  10. Ever Darkening by Janeal Falor ★★☆☆☆
  11. The Beginner's Guide to the Birds and the Bess by Sophie Hart ★★★★☆
  12. The Pearl by John Steinbeck ★☆☆☆☆
  13. Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades #1) by E.L. James ★★★☆☆
  14. Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades #2) by E.L. James ★★★★☆
The single short story I read was: 
  1. Love Sucks and then You Die (Eve & Adam #0.5) ★★☆☆☆

This month started out great and ended quite sadly. I actually DNF'ed (Did-not-finish) a bunch of books this month. I went through my review books and read 10% of most of them - the ones I wanted to read I kept and the ones I didn't like, after having read 10%, I wrote a DNF-review for.

As I've mentioned a couple of times February was quite an eventful month! Some of the things that happened was: 
  • I read my first nonfiction book of the year and I loved it! 
  • I received my first couple of physical books for review of the year - Fish Out of Water by Natalie Whipple and The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry
  • I found out that Harper Lee is publishing the sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird AND that Go Set a Watchman (the sequel) was actually written before To Kill a Mockingbird. Fun facts!
  • My instagram account turned 1! Hurray.
  • I read a book of of my 20 before 20 list!
  • I am now auto-approved by Clockwise Press on Netgalley + my review of Fragile Bones is featured on Netgalley! I also reached an 80+% feedback ratio on Netgalley! 
  • I had my first surgery ever! Not voluntarily though - but I still had it and I came out on top so everything's good! 
  • I was at my first bookclub meeting (out of 3) of the year! It's for school so I get brownie points for doing it, two birds with one stone right? 

Since March is looming I figured I'd make a list of what I'm looking forward to
  • My 18th birthday, which is right around the corner on March 2. 
  • Getting well again, I hate being sick. 
  • We have mid-term exams (which I'm not looking forward to) and I can't wait 'till they're over!
  • The book club meeting near the end of the month! 
  • There's also a fantasy-festival which I'm hoping I can go to if I'm well enough *crossing fingers*
  • I'm going to see my very first live stand-up show on the 18th. It's a Danish comedian called Torben Chris. 
  • The release of both Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby and 99 Days by Katie Cotugno on the 21st

I never stick to TBR's and I mostly set them after which review books I have to read for next month's reviews but sometimes I like setting myself some goals so here is some books I look forward to reading and hope to read in March; 
  • Emma by Jane Austen - so I can cross it off my 20 before 20 list
  • The Beloved by Alison Rattle and the first two books in the Lumikki Andersson by Salla Simukka 
  • The Gospel According to Drew Barrymore by Pippa Wright - just received it from netgalley and it looks quite promising. 

Was February a good month for you or not? What are you looking forward to the most in March?

25 February 2015

Reluctantly Married by Victorine E. Lieske

Series: N/A, Standalone
Publication date:  January 9, 2015
Publisher: Victorine E. Lieske - selfpublished
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Format: eArc
Source: The publisher through netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Pages: 254

Goodreads ⎜AmazonBook Depository

Megan Holloway can’t stand her local morning show co-host, Adam Warner, even though he’s a total hunk. He goads her on-air until she says things she regrets. But since ratings increase each time they have an on-air fight, the producer encourages his behavior.

When a relationship specialist comes onto the show purporting that Adam has hidden feelings for her, she reluctantly agrees to go out with him—on camera. What starts out as one date turns into a viral dating show with Megan and Adam alternating between locking lips and knocking heads.

As Megan fights her growing attraction to Adam, their popularity increases and ABC takes notice, offering them their own program. Not a morning show like Megan is hoping, but a dating show in which she and Adam must marry at the end. With the promise of a hundred thousand dollars and the possibility of scoring what she really wants, her own national program, she signs on.

What she doesn't know is that Adam has fallen in love with her, and his objective is to get her to do the same.

I primarily requested this because I'd read one of her other books; Accidentally Married, last year and I absolutely loved it! I picked this up on a whim on Valentines Day and it was perfect!
I began reading this and suddenly I'd read the majority of the book! The plot is intriguing, the characters are charming and funny and I just kept wanting to know what would happen next.

The characters are not just charming and funny though, they also have some depth - both of them have issues, both have had a rough time growing up and both are quite insecure and not quite ready to face facts. I loved reading about Megan and Adam and I loved their conversations! You never know where it's headed - whether it's going to be funny, serious, charming or just nostalgia. I really enjoyed the two of them together! Their relationship also, very quickly actually, take a turn for the better and seeing them getting to know each other better and Megan starting to warm up to the two of them together is worth definitely worth it!

I have to be honest, I didn't really know what this was about when I started reading.. So going into this blindsided was not a bad call! I loved that I knew nothing about what was going to happen but I quickly discovered the overall plot. Even though you know where the story is headed you still keep reading because of Megan and Adam. So the plot is not what's important here - for me it is definitely the characters.

Victorine E. Lieske definitely knows how to write a swoon worthy romance! It's fluffy, it's fun, it's quirky and I loved every bit! I am definitely going to read all of her books know - to 5 stars in a row can't be a coincidence. So if you're in the mood for a romance that will make your cheeks hurt from smiling choose either this one or Accidentally Married - I highly recommend both!

22 February 2015

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry

Series: N/A, Standalone
Publication date: January 1, 2015
Publisher: Piccadilly
Genres: Middle Grade, Mystery
Format: Paperback
Source: Provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Pages: 326

An outrageous plot of villainy starring seven brilliant young girls.

At Prickwillow Place, Disgraceful Mary Jane, Smooth Kitty and their fellow students are keeping a deadly secret.

When the headmistress of St Etheldreda's School for Young Ladies drops dead at Sunday dinner, her seven pupils agree on a clever scheme: to bury their teacher in the vegetable garden, dress up Stout Alice in her place, and educate themselves. This is tricky enough in a small Victorian community, but when the girls deduce that their teacher was poisoned - (it was the veal!) - they realise there is also a murderer on the prowl . . .

Middle grade is not usually my thing and I definitely don't request books in that genre since I'm disappointed in the majority of them. That said I could not not say yes to this book since I fell in love with the cover and the synopsis. Someone, on goodreads, said that it was like cluedo or clue - and even though I've never played the game it made me want to read it.
I'd really hoped that there'd be more illustrations inside the book but there's only a directory where you see who is who of the girls and the chapter headings.

We have 7 protagonists; all featured on the cover - which I like. In the beginning I had a hard time following 7 characters but Julie Berry has done a remarkable job of creating a different personality for each of the girls. Every single one of those girls had quirks and I found that I really liked all of them because of said quirks. I really enjoyed the close relationship between the girls, how they see themselves as a 'sisterhood' - which is why they keep the murders secret, so they can stay together.

The storyline didn't really grab me though, I couldn't keep my focus and I put it down a couple of times because I found it boring. I really wanted the storyline to surprise me but I wasn't really that impressed. Something that genuinely surprised me was who the murderer was - I had no idea who it was! So that's quite clever thinking Julie Berry!
I probably enjoyed the last 70-50 pages more than the rest of the book. Everything came together and I had no intentions of putting it down - I wanted to see how every little piece fit together. It's also near the end that there's a bit of romance. I wish there was more romance through out the book, it doesn't have to be overpowering but it would have been nice.
The ending satisfied me though, and it probably notched it up a star.

20 February 2015

How to read more

I know a lot of people put 'read more' on their list of resolutions for 2015 but how can you read more? Most of these 'tips' are some I use daily and I read more and more. 

Time dedicated to reading
Choose a time every day where you 'have' to read, for example an hour every night before you go to sleep, from 5 to 6 or something like that. All you can do in that time is read, you can't do your homework, you can't blog, you can't use social media - you just have to read. 
I know this one work for most people, it's also a great way to relax before bed, that is, if you take an hour each night before you go to sleep. 

Do NOT force yourself to read
Even if you've scheduled some time for reading you should not pressure yourself. If you force yourself to read you'll probably end up not wanting to and that's definitely not the point. 
Reading when you want to is the best thing you can do.

Carry a book/reading material with you everywhere
I love this one. If you carry a book, an iPad or have books on your phone you always have something to read wherever you are. So if you're waiting for the bus you can just take your book out and start reading or if you have 10 minutes before class starts you can get through a couple of pages. 
I know that when I started sleeping at my boyfriend's I read every morning while I was on the train (10-12 minutes), while waiting for the bus (15-20 minutes) and when I was on the bus (10 minutes). I also read while going back to his place and during breaks and stuff. I could get through at least half a book everyday. 
So use the time wisely because all those pages add up and before you know it you've read a book. 

I used to listen to audiobooks while I worked - because I worked, and still do, in a library. I just had to put the books back on the shelves so I could just listen to audiobooks while I did. It's a great way of doing multiple things at once; if you have a long way to school or work you can listen to a book on the way or if you like knitting or crocheting (like I do) you can listen to an audiobook while doing that as well. 
I often find that I don't read as much because I feel like I have to do so much - e.g. laundry, clean the house or walk my dog - but you can listen to an audiobook while doing all those things! 

Know what you want to read
This is what I call 'mood-reading'. If you know yourself good enough to know whether you're in the mood for a classic, contemporary, mystery or fantasy it's easier finding a book to read and because you don't have to spend a lot of time figuring out which book to read you have more time to read! Also, if you read something you want to read you're practically destined to read more. 

Learn to read faster - time yourself
This has helped me a lot! Also with schoolwork this is fantastic! If you're a slowreader you can learn to read faster; say you want to read a page in a minute. You just have to find your phone, set the timer for a minute and then you read as fast as you can - without just skimming of course. It's takes practice but it's so worth it once you get the hang of it - especially because you don't have to think about it after a while. 
You can test how fast you read here

Cut out distractions
Turn off your tv and put your cellphone away. Make a cup of tea and find yourself a fort of 'isolation'. If you cut off the distractions it's easier to dive into a book and really feel the book. 

Do you have any other tips to read more? 

17 February 2015

Reading slumps!

I was in a bit of a reading slump back in July, but I, thankfully, got out of it after a week or two. I know I hate being in reading slumps since reading is what makes me relax after a tough day and I really miss reading when I'm in a slump - I just can't get myself to read it.

Firstly, what is a reading slump? A reading slump is a period of time where you don't read or rather can't really get yourself to pick up a book and start reading. It can last weeks and it can last months. If you don't have time to read - e.g. due to school - that's not a reading slump.

Reading slumps can be caused by a bunch of things. Maybe the book you're currently reading is the cause, you can't really find out what to read (too many choices) or maybe you've read a bad book or had a bad streak with books and have, in a way, given up.

Secondly, how do you get out of them? I've got a couple of ideas of how to get out of these unfortunate slumps, so here's my ideas:

1. If you're trying to read a book, and have been for a while, stop. Put it down and find the book on your ereader, at your local library or on your shelves that you want to read the most and read it. Sometimes the excitement of reading can push you out of a slump.

2. If it's due to a bad streak in books try reading a book you've previously loved. For me, I would probably read Pride and Prejudice for the umpteenth time. Please keep in mind NOT to read a book that has made you sad *cough* The Fault in Our Stars *cough*.

3. Let it take it's time. Don't pressure yourself to read, because if you pressure yourself you can end up in a worse state than before.

4. Get excited about reading! Watch some booktube videos, read reviews, make lists about books, talk about books etc. You don't have to read to get excited about reading.

5. Find the time to read; Do all your homework, clean your room, light some candles and make a cup of tea. If you're relaxed and don't have anything you actually have to do, you might find yourself wanting to pick up a book.

Do you have any ideas on how to get out of a reading slump? 

15 February 2015

Fish Out of Water by Natalie Whipple

Series: N/A, Standalone
Publication date: February 5, 2015
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Genres: YA, Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Source: Provided by the publisher in exchange in an honest review
Pages: 322

Goodreads ⎜AmazonBook Depository

"People like to think fish don't have feelings - it's easier that way - but as I watch the last hubby squirm in his bag, his eyes seem to plead with me. I get the sense that it knows just as well as I do that bad things are on the horizon."

Mika Arlington has her perfect summer all planned out, but the arrival of both ger estranged grandmother and too-cool Dylan are going to make some very big waves in her life.

I had a feeling that this would be targeted toward the younger section of YA, but it's not and I found myself enjoying it immensely.

Our protagonist Mika is 17 and she has a thing for fish - a quirk I quite like about her. I like that she's as nice as she is, that she feels guilty when she is guilty and not just brushes it off. I like that she is so invested in her parents' work and that she was going to work with them over the summer.
I really enjoyed her relationship with her parents, it felt real and not forced and I like that they are so close. Another relationship I enjoyed immensely was the one between her and her friends - which also felt real. It's quirky and fun and I can definitely recognize some of my friends in Olivia and Shreya.

The relationship between Dylan and Mika was probably the one I enjoyed the most.. Sorry. I love how they don't even like each other in the beginning and that she just kept smiling even though he irritated her. I also found it quite funny when she wanted to buy a fish and he didn't know how to catch it. Watching their relationship bloom and unfold is probably one of the things I enjoyed the most - it goes from 0-100 in a while instead of immediately. They get to know each other better and what wasn't even a real friendship to begin with turns into love. There is definitely a lot of swoon worthy moments in this book!

When I began reading this book I was not expecting it to revolve that much about fish, but it does and it turns out that I quite enjoyed it. Learning about fish this way was definitely not boring, Mika's devotion to them is just inspiring and I may want to read more about fish now - who knew they were so interesting?

This book is a roller coaster ride that hit me right in the feels! I laughed, I got butterflies and I was on the verge of crying. Not many books hit me like that but Fish Out of Water definitely did! It's a remarkable read and a quite interesting one as well!

Something I found quite funny was that the author, Natalie Whipple, apparently killed 3 goldfish while researching this novel - it gets me every. Single. Time. I mean 3 goldfish?

14 February 2015

Romance for Valentines Day!

I honor of V-day I figured I might as well recommend a bunch of my favorite romance novels and I'll probably throw some - okay, a lot - of contemporaries in the mix as well.

A couple of years ago I practically despised romance book - I just didn't want to read about it but this past year I've gotten really into reading romance and contemporary books - I've even found chick-lit quite enjoying. My favorite romance of all time is probably Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen!

Rainbow Rowell is probably the only author where I've loved every single book said author has written. I've read all of her books and enjoyed all of them. For me they are definitely feel good books - there's romance, friendship and humor and I recommend them to everyone! I'm almost certain that if you find yourself reading one of her books you'll enjoy it immensely! 
My first book by Rainbow Rowell was Attachments, I didn't know anything about it at that point and I just started reading. Suddenly it was the middle of the night, I had just finished reading it and I was craving more Rowell! 

 I recently read and enjoyed A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall. It's quite short but the storyline is wonderful! It's about a couple and the story is told from everyone but them! I laughed when we suddenly are told the story from a bench's point of view - even a squirrel! It's heartwarming and funny and it will definitely put a smile on your lips!

I read The Edge of Never last year and I remember loving it! It's a new adult roadtrip book and it was very surprising. The relationship between the two main characters evolve instead falling for each other the second they lay eyes on each other they start talking and suddenly become friends. For me I loved that relationship, it felt more natural than the ones in other books and I definitely swooned!

I read this a year ago, I picked it up on a whim and suddenly I had read the whole book! The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight surprised me, it was fluffy but deep and I had definitely not expected that. I loved the plot - even though I didn't know what it was about when I started reading it. I fell in love with the characters and I kept wanting to know more - I craved the relationship between the two main characters. It's quite a short read but the story lacks nothing!

The first couple of lines of the summary for this book made me want to read it and I was definitely not disappointed!
This is a love story. But it’s not what you think. This is not a first kiss, or a first date. This is not love at first sight. This is a boy and a girl falling in messy, unpredictable, thrilling love. This is the complicated route to happiness that follows.

This is real. This is life. This is how to love.

This is probably one of the sweetest, funniest, heart-warming books I've ever read. I'd barely read a page before I laughed out loud and I knew I was going to love it. This book draws you in and makes you want to keep reading. The relationship in this book may be one of my favorites EVER - I kept swooning and when I'd finished the book my cheeks hurt from smiling!

Lastly, if you're still in the mood for some Christmas romance I recommend these; 

Do you have any favorite romance books I haven't mentioned here?

11 February 2015

The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard

Series: The Perfectionists #1
Publication date: October 2, 2014
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Genres: YA Contemporary 
Format: Paperback - review copy
Source: Received from Hot Key Books in exchange for an honest review
Pages: 267

Perfect test scores, perfect friends, perfect lives... perfect murderers?

High school senior Nolan Hotchkiss is one of those lucky kids - handsome, rich, living a charmed life - despite the fact that he's a self-centred bully who treats everyone around him like dirt. Still, no one can touch Nolan, no one would try ...

Until now.

There are five girls at school with Nolan who each have a very good reason to end his reign of terror, and now they're going to put words into actions and play this player at his own game.

But when you mess with fire you risk getting burnt. For these five fearless girls, revenge comes at a very high price and secrets have a habit of coming out ... even when there is nothing to hide ... 

I have to start out saying that this feels like a spin-off of Pretty Little Liars, I've seen the series and I've read the first book and this book has the same feel to it.

We have 5 girls:
  1. Caitlin, a bit of a tomboy. Caitlin plays soccer, she's adopted and has two moms (yes, lesbians, a fact I love) 
  2. Mackenzie, she plays the cello and her parents and sister are also musicians. 
  3. Ava, a beautiful girl with brains. 
  4. Julie, a girl who has it quite tough at home
  5. and lastly we have Parker, she also has it quite tough at home which results in her having scars all over her face. 
I could actually relate to all of them except Parker. I enjoyed all the characters, I liked that all of them had some kind of problem, it made them real instead of these picture-perfect people we sometimes come across in books. I also liked that all of them have some kind of quirk, for example Caitlin likes a cartoon that her younger brother liked. 
I really liked that the story is told from all the girls' perspective, instead of just one of two, that way we also get to know them a whole lot better and I found that I liked every single one of those girls. 

The Story 
It was quite confusing in the beginning with all the characters, but after 50-70 pages everything falls into place and you can just read it without thinking too much about it. 
It begins with a prologue where you basically get the whole story on a plate. After that we get to know everything leading up to this prologue and I promise not to spoil the ending - I just have to say that the ending sucked and it took down the rating a notch. 
It's also pretty creepy at times, and some characters turns out to be creeps. I found that, at some parts, I sat on the edge of my seat and couldn't stop reading - I just had to know what was going to happen, which is probably why I ended up reading it in a single sitting. 

When I finished it I was quite mad, I hate cliffhangers - but I didn't understand why it ended like that because it was supposed to be a standalone, but apparently there's going to be a sequel. I'm probably not going to be reading the sequel since I think the story is a bit bland to be honest; yes it grabs you but afterwards, I for one, found it bland.

The book is a bit 'meh' for me, but I found Pretty Little Liars 'meh' as well, so no surprise there. I just don't think Sara Shepard is the author for me. Sorry.