Friday, 27 November 2015

My Life Next Door:: REVIEW

My Life Next DoorThe Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them... until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything. 
As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase's family embraces Samantha - even as she keeps him a secret from her own.Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha's world. She's suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

Truth be told, has been a very long time since I read this book. I read My Life Next Door in June 2014, but then happened to received a surprise review copy from Electric Monkey too.

This probably won't be great, because I didn't write a Goodreads review at the time, and I can't remember half of what happened. But I still have a few things I need to say about this interesting and insightful read.

Like with every book, there were positives and negatives here. Whilst I enjoyed this, My Life Next Door is very long for a contemporary. I love contemporary fiction, but this became dragged out, especially towards the final quarter of the story. Samantha's friends and the relationships between her friends were left unexplained and vague, so when things turn dramatic towards the end, their actions made no sense, but still, I struggled to ever really warm to, or understand Nan and Tim. 

With it's family centric themes, My Life Next Door is perfect for fans of Gayle Forman. I loved how Huntley Fitzpatrick managed to show the stark contrast between the hostile relationships in Samantha's family, with her mother only concerned with her political job and her obsessive cleaning, and then Jase's family, bursting with life and in spite of the parents having 8 (EIGHT!) kids, they manage to keep everything under control and enjoy their lives. Samantha and Jase's relationship was slow burning, originally a friendship (although, let's be real, it's so obvious it's going to end up romantic), and this I've never seen a YA book that deals with sex so well before. The topic was covered in a way that was responsible and in a way that so many YA books have missed. 

My Life Next Door is released in the UK on January 7th 2016. Thank you once again to Electric Monkey for sending me a proof copy to review.

Holly x

Friday, 20 November 2015

recent reads:: October '15

When a book is by your favourite author and is essentially a fanfiction of your favourite series, you can only have high expectations. And this was disappointing. I liked Simon and Baz's relationship, and I loved the secondary characters too (especially Penelope), but for a fantasy, it didn't feel original enough. I missed Rainbow Rowell's beautifully witty and wonderful prose that I had grown to love so much. I missed the romance that made my heart feel like it was overflowing with happiness. I missed Rainbow Rowell, as this didn't feel like it was one of her books. 3/5

Fairest has solidified by love and obsession with The Lunar Chronicles. Additionally, whilst Cress is my favourite, this was by far the best written. Marissa Meyer's stories just get better and better, with more shocks and twists and shippings of 3 year olds. (That sounds weird unless you've read these books, I know.) Everything about Fairest was stunning; from the descriptions of life on the moon or characterisation of Levana, Evret, Solstice, Channary and others. Meyer has the extraordinary capacity to make you feel somewhat sad and heartbroken for a person whose blood is like ice. Fairest has made me beyond excited for Winter's publication, and, if anything, has made me hate Levana even more. 5/5

As soon as I heard about The Next Together, I couldn't wait to start reading it. This is another one of those books that has the potential to be phenomenal but falls flat in the middle section. Reading The Next Together is like reading AU fanfictions for Kate and Matt: they're together in 1745, 1854, 2019, and 2039. A fascinating story, but I didn't care about what happened to these characters and it didn't hurt to watch them be torn apart time after time. Some elements of the time travel weren't properly explained and so for the last 100 pages I was so lost. If you live confusing historical/future/time travel plots then you might be interested, but it didn't quite work for me. 3/5

With a year long mourning period following on from The Jewel, I was incredibly excited to find out what happens to Violet next. So much world building was added into this story, giving realistic, and somewhat shocking reasons for as to why in the Lone City, the surrogates are used. Everybody has a past and a story, which is what so many YA dystopias haven't providedAmy Ewing gave me the answers I'd be waiting a year for and created a near perfect sequel. Her writing never fails to suck me in and is so addictive. I couldn't put this down. 4/5

Sunday, 15 November 2015

LUNAR REVIEWS:: Scarlet + Cress by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2)Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him. And he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner. 

If you are going into Scarlet thinking that the entire book is going to be from her perspective, then think again. Remember Cinder? The cyborg from New Beijing? Well, it's half in her perspective too. Obviously dual perspectives do not appeal to everybody, but Marissa Meyer ties the plots together so effectively, that boredom never strikes, and you never find yourself craving the other perspective.

Scarlet is a sharp witted, fierce, and dauntless character. We see her gradually grow more and more bitter, desperate to find her last connection to family. I guess in a way this sounds like Cinder, but Scarlet is a breath of fresh air in the series.  I loved how reading from Scarlet's perspective, you become absorbed in this cold world that is rarely broken down.Contrasting with this, I didn't like Wolf, and I didn't like the relationship that formed between him and Scarlet. To me, it doesn't feel right that Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf fall in love. It just doesn't make sense to me. But that was my only problem with this book.

Unlike Cinder, the plot goes in a full arc. There is a clear beginning, middle, and end, and the plot goes at such a fast pace that you will fly through this. Scarlet left me with a ridiculous book hangover. I ended up in a month long slump in between finishing this and the wait for Cress. The reality is that this is my least favourite book in the Lunar Chronicles, but there's always going to be a least favourite, and it's still a fantastic read.

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)
Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they're plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army. Therebest hope lies with Cress, a gilr imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who's only ever had her netscreens as company. When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai.

The beauty of the Lunar Chronicles is that each book gets better and better. And if we're only talking about the novels (and excluding the Fairest novella), Cress is the best so far.

SO much happens in 500 pages. There's a trip to Africa, someone ends up on the moon, and we get so much more information on Letumosis, shells, and the glamour. If you've been confused about how the workings of future Earth and Luna go, then this will answer your questions. 

Cress herself is extremely sweet, and has the great mental strength that I suppose comes from being trapped in a satellite your entire life. A hopeless romantic, she has these ideals based on romantic earthen films she has watched, and quickly falls for Thorne, who, in Cress just becomes an even better Jack Sparrow (like that was even possible). The relationship between these two characters is adorable; she wants the "perfect" romance, but forgets the fact that Thorne is the first male she has ever met. I LOVE THEM TOGETHER. 

The characters will always be the best part of the Lunar Chronicles. Of course, the story is fantastic, but the characters make the story what it is. Every character is so different from one another, and mean that unexpected twists and directions are taken. My only problem with Cress was that given what happened in this book, it could have been shorter than 500+ pages. Some parts were dragged out, but nevertheless, I really, really enjoyed reading this.

At the time of writing this, there are still two weeks until Winter is released: I am beyond excited to find out what happens next. I have also reviewed Cinder, and my review of Fairest will be up in the next week.

Holly xx

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Lost in a Library is 3!!!

So...Lost in a Library is 3 years old. That's kind of crazy.
If you've been here a while then you'll know that I did posts on my first and second blogoversaries too, usually consisting of thank you's, and me acting like this blog is my child. But I'm going to do things a bit differently this year. I'm going to be frank.

I've been a dreadful blogger this year. I've posted 38 times. That's it. All year.
I got into the swing of scheduling my posts in Oct/Nov/December of last year, and that hit a reef in April when my exams started. I just didn't have time to blog, and I still haven't gotten back into it. 

I've also had a lot less faith in what I'm doing. I don't feel like anyone reads this anymore. It might say that there's 61 bloglovin followers, and 40+ GFC followers, but it feels like none of you are there. It feels like nobody reads what I write. I see posts that I worked really hard on only receive 20 page views at most. And it hurts. Because it feels like I've missed the point in what I was trying to convey. Any blogger will know how proud you feel after working so hard on a blog post, the excitement when it goes live, but then, which not all of you will feel, the disappointment, when there are no comments, no responses, no sort of feedback on what you have written. I'm so grateful for every single follower, but I want to discuss with you and Fangirl with you and see what you feel about a book.

I don't know where I'm going wrong, or if I'm going wrong. But I want to know how to improve, how to make Lost in a Library better, how to feel listened too. Please comment, please retweet or favourite, or tweet me, please, just read this. 

In my fourth year, I want to improve, and I don't know how that is going to happen. I've started a lifestyle blog, but I'm struggling with managing The Highest Cloud and Lost in a Library. Honestly, I want to know what you as a reader want to see, because if you like to read it, and I like to write it, then maybe we'll be getting somewhere. 

Here, I'm going to insert a link to a Google Form, PLEASE fill it out. I should have done one of these a while ago, but I'm scared that I'll get one response, if any. PLEASE be honest. 

I need to thank everyone who has stuck by me. Anxiety hasn't been kind in the past year, and there are some bloggers who have been incredibly supportive at times where I didn't know where to turn anymore. I really want to thank you for your kindness, and everybody who retweets, comments, reads, follows and shares what I write. Now going into the fourth year of blogging, I only want to make things better and better, so please, bear with me whilst I take the journey in getting there. 

Holly xx

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Alice Oseman: "Writing and Studying is not Impossible" + Giveaway


…sort of. I don’t mean you can literally write a story while reading your biology textbook. I don’t think even the most talented of multi-taskers can do that. (If you can, email me. Seriously. I want to know your secrets.)

One of my most frequently asked questions as an author who wrote a book while she was at school and wrote her second while at university is – how do you find the time to write while studying?

It’s a fair question. Both school and university can use up one hundred per cent of your free time. We’re living in the age of ridiculous amounts of homework and coursework, exams so hard that you need to start revising six months in advance, and teachers telling you that your school grades are going to determine your future success and happiness (total bull, by the way).

So when people ask me how I did it, I usually tell them these three things:

1. Organise your time. If you’re going to keep up with your schoolwork and write as well, you do need to sort out when you’re going to get things done. My policy while I was at school was that I did most of my homework and coursework at school (during my free periods and at lunchtimes) so that I had all my time at home for writing. It worked pretty well!

2. Writing a story sometimes has to take priority. Sometimes, you have to say no to homework and yes to writing. Writing a book takes a lot of time, determination, effort, stamina, and perseverance. If you’re constantly giving your schoolwork priority, it will take you a very long time to write a book. School does not have to be the most important thing in your life – your dreams and passions should be important too. So give them some attention. My policy was that if a teacher or tutor wasn’t going to check the homework, I didn’t do it. Maybe this is bad advice. I don’t know. But it worked.

3. Writing should never feel like work. I know I said that writing a book takes a lot of determination and perseverance, but it should mainly be fun. It should be something you really want to do. If you’re not enjoying it, I can honestly say that there’s absolutely no point you doing it. So don’t stress about publication or writing something groundbreaking – just relax and let writing be something you do to chill out. Write your book for you. That in turn will help you to write something you love, which will make a better book. I used to rush home from school with an idea for the next chapter in my head, desperate to write it down. Writing is hard but it’s also relaxing because I genuinely enjoy it.

Hopefully something here will help you balance your academic and literary endeavours! Workloads at school and university can be hellish – trust me, I know. But if you want to write a book, you’ve got to know when to say no to school and yes to doing what you want to do.

You can write a book if you want to. You just need to give yourself the time. And sometimes give homework the slip.

Good luck!

Thank you so much to the lovely Alice Oseman for agreeing to do a guest post on Lost in a Library! This is part of the YA Shot Blog/Vlog Tour. YA Shot took place on Wednesday 28th October in Uxbridge promoting YA and the power of libraries. 

Alice is also kindly giving away one signed copy of Solitaire - her debut novel. The giveaway will be open from Sunday 1st November-Thursday 5th November 2015. After that the winner will be sent their prize via the author. You must be a UK Resident, and have permission to share your address if you win.

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