Thursday, 25 February 2016

REVIEW -- The #1 Rule For Girls

The Number One Rule for GirlsDaisy knows a thing or two about love and romance. She’s surrounded by it – in fact, there’s no escape! Not only are her parents childhood sweethearts turned soulmates, they also run the very successful wedding agency 'Something Borrowed', helping couples to tie the knot in whatever frilly, quirky, tasteful, outrageous way they choose. So it's no surprise that Daisy has a pretty clear vision of how her life with boyfriend Matt is going to pan out. There’s one major flaw in this plan – Matt and Daisy have split up! Determined not to brood, Daisy sets out to re-invent her life and her dreams. And that’s when Toby enters the scene, who appears to be perfect, but is turning all the Rules upside down..."

I find this hard to write because Rachel McIntyre is an extraordinarily good author, and has been very kind to me in the past year. But I wasn't the biggest fan of this book. 

What I loved was the consistent feminist tones, and how the female characters were rising above the positions others' comments and actions tried to put them in. The concept of the rules, specifically "don't change who you are for someone else. They can love you for you, or not at all" was incredibly important and there were many moments, particularly earlier on where I laughed out loud.

Maybe the fault lies with me, and my changing tastes in fiction, or maybe it's because this is just not a topic or theme that I'm particularly interested in. But for the most part, Daisy was stupid. In spite of the situations that Toby threw her into, she continued to date him. In spite of the fact that he abandoned her in a motorway lay-by, she continued to date him. For someone who was 16 nearly 17, she was incredibly immature, and my annoyance at her actions made this difficult reading. 

Despite the rules, 16 year olds were running off with boys who had stalked them, and that just didn't sit right with me. I appreciate what this book is trying to say, but as someone who has read A LOT of YA, at this point, this book didn't speak to me as much as it could have if I was at the start of my journey into YA. I'm 17, and perhaps this would have been a better read if I was 13 or 14, and could be used as direction and advice of what not to do in a relationship. I'd recommend this, just not if you feel the same way as I've expressed here. I'm not saying that this book is bad, I'm saying that it's good, but I'm not the right reader demographic to judge this on. 

Me and Mr J, Rachel's debut, was spectacular, and I'm sure that many people will feel the same about The #1 Rule For Girls, but I'm not the right target audience, and therefore, perhaps didn't appreciate or take as much away from the book as others will.

Thank you so much to Electric Monkey at Egmont for sending me a ARC of this in exchange for an honest review. The #1 Rule For Girls by Rachel McIntyre is released on February 25th - so go and buy a copy!

Monday, 15 February 2016

GUEST POST -- Sometimes, it's Okay Not to Read by Susy

Since going to university, I have found myself reading a hell of a lot more. Whereas before I'd read between three and four books a month, at uni I found I was reading twice that, despite the fact that I had a million other things I should have been doing - coursework, course reading, cooking, hoovering, laundry, being social etc. For those of us who live in halls, uni is about more than just staying out late and writing the odd essay; we have to fend for ourselves for the first time in our lives. So why, then, do I find myself reading more even though I theoretically have less time on my hands?

The most likely reason is that, at uni, I don't have a TV. At home, I spend a lot of time watching telly (hey I did media studies A Level ok, I like that kind of stuff), and so a lack of this at uni means that I naturally spend my leisure time differently. Even so, surely my time should be taken up with all the other aforementioned activities I need to do?

Even though I do history, I don't actually have that much work to do. Maybe it's because I'm in first year, maybe it's because I'm lazy. I don't know. But I thought I'd be spending much more of my time actually doing work (it helps that I'm safe in the knowledge that this year doesn't count towards my degree). I can read for, plan, and write an essay in a week. All whilst reading for pleasure. And, last semester, I only had a total of four essays to write - one of which wasn't even assessed. So you see, my course isn't terribly stressful.

There is, however, another factor causing my altered reading habits. Quite simply, I felt lonely. Living away from home can be hard, ok? Some people just slot into a new city with ease and don't feel any different, but for me it wasn't so easy. My flatmates naturally bonded with each other a lot faster than I did because I'm naturally introverted and a little awkward at times. They'd go out clubbing or have movie nights and I'd opt to stay in my room and read. Even when I was in the kitchen, they got used to the sight of seeing me reading a book whilst stirring my pasta.

Reading was my crutch, my safety blanket. It transported me to other worlds, other scenarios, other people's problems, and meant that I didn't have to face my own. It wasn't until the last few weeks of the semester that I realised that using reading as an excuse wasn't ok. I've since resolved to say yes to more things with my flatmates so that I can get closer to them. I want to be involved and have experiences and get out of the room that had turned into a cocoon. Reading is my passion but I refuse to let myself become so dependent on it.

So what if I only read five books a month instead of eight? If that means I'll grow in confidence and improve relationships with my new friends, it'll be for the better.

Reading is great. But the real world can be great too. It's just about finding the right balance.

Susy is a History Student at University - she also has a BookTube channel called IlolAtMyself - go watch her videos!!!

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

REVIEW::: The Giver

The Giver (The Giver Quartet, #1)It is the future. There is no war, no hunger, no pain. No one in the community wants for anything. Everything needed is provided. And at 12 years old, each member of the community has their profession carefully chosen for them by the Committee of Elders. Jonas has never thoughtthere was anything wrong with his world. But from the moment he is selected as the Receiver of Memory, Jonas discovers that the community is not as perfect as it seems. Only with the help of the Giver can Jonas find what has been lost, and only through personal courage that Jonas has the strength to do what is right.

As I've said many times before, I despise dystopian fiction. It feels so repetitive and ridiculous at times that a while ago I decided that I didn't want to read anymore. This was a present from my mum, and it was something that I'd mentioned to her before I'd made this decision. So, in late December 2014, I read this 200 page book, and it was a pleasant surprise. Never, did I expect to like this book anywhere near as much as I did.

The Giver is so different to any dystopia or classic I've ever read, and that's something I really appreciated when reading this. It may have been a lot shorter than your average novel, and it may have been published over 2 decades ago, but it was like a breath of fresh air. Upon reading this I found it so fascinating how so many things had been taken away in this futuristic country. By far the most shocking thing was how everyone lived in monochrome, and would never be able to comprehend colour.

It broke my heart when Jonas asked his "parents" if they loved him, and it wasn't in their capacity to understand what he meant by this. Jonas' parents found love to be an ambiguous term, that it couldn't be regarded as an emotion or strong enough of a feeling.  Really, all the characters were so twisted and complex, as they can't understand any real form of emotion. They've never witnessed loneliness, or sadness - which meant my heart broke when we learnt of Rosemary. After reading this all I could think about was how awful it would be to just. feel. nothing.

My only problem was the writing somewhat dragged at times, but other than that, this was fantastic. Will definitely be reading the rest of the quartet!

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them:: Theorising

At the time of writing this (December 2015), the first trailer for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has just been released - like, 5 hours ago. I dropped everything to watch it as soon as it came out - and now, I just have a lot of ideas that I need to talk about.

- The Plot Premise: So, right now, the premise we have is that Newt Scammander (played by the wonderful Eddie Redmayne) has arrived in New York, and beasts and creatures from the Wizarding World have escaped from the suitcase Newt was carrying them in. This seems like a pretty interesting plot - but the main question I have is how is this going to carry over a trilogy of films?  Obviously there is going to be the search for these magical creatures, but is that really going to take three films? The more Potter films, the merrier, but they need to have enough substance to be convincing and appealing to a fan-based audience. 

- The Casting: The only real characters that feature in this first trailer are Newt and Porpentina Goldstein; played by Eddie Redmayne and Katherine Waterson. Aside from these two characters, every other character is new for this film. As are a lot of the cast. For me at least, I've only heard of the above, Ezra Miller, Colin Farrell, and Jon Voight. There are so many unknown actors, which is wonderful - look how many unknown actors from Harry Potter are huge today! It will be interesting to see what these actors, whose work we are not/less familiar with will bring to the table with their characters.

- The Context: 1926 New York. Aside from glimpses of knowledge of Bulgaria's Durmstang, and France's Beauxbatons Academy, we as fans, readers, viewers, don't know anything about magic around the world. As much as I'll miss Hogwarts, it will be fascinating to learn how magic works in a different country. Apparently muggles are called No-Mags in America, which seems like an odd word choice, but i can't wait to see the differences in the magic system.

- Predictions: Undeniably, there will be some development of the relationship between Newt and Porpentina - as we know they later get married. Perhaps this will be a slow burning romance that spreads and grows across the trilogy (that makes it sound very Romione!). Newt might have some run-ins with the American version of the Ministry of Magic. If he's made the mistake of letting magical beasts and creatures run wild in New York City, then yes, I do deem this as likely. Last but not least, maybe some glances into the future - seeing Luna Lovegoodand Rolf together? Who knows.

What are your thoughts and theories? Let me know in the comments.

Holly x