Sunday, 19 July 2015

Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill

Only Ever YoursPublisher: Quercus
Publication Date: 3rd July 2014
Pages: 392 (Paperback) 
Genre: Dystopia
Source: Bought
frieda and isabel have been best friends their whole lives. Now, aged sixteen and in their final year of school, they expect to be selected as companions - wives to wealthy and powerful men. The alternate - life as a concubine - is too horrible to contemplate.
But as the intensity of the final year takes hold, the pressure to remain becomes almost unbearable. isabel starts to self destruct, putting her beauty - her only asset - in peril. And then the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride.

I seriously regret not reading this sooner. Honestly, it was because the cover creeped me out, but still, I digress. Only Ever Yours was phenomenal - and may very possibly be one of the best books I've ever read. It's not a favourite, and I don't think it's something I'm in a hurry to reread. This is a book that needs a lot of mulling over before you revisit for more. 

This was so good that upon finishing the book, I opened a word document, and wrote a 2 page essay on why it was such a good way to promote feminism, and how sexism needs to become something of the past very quickly. It's an awful essay, but I needed to write something to gather my thoughts on what I'd just read.

Almost every character was dislikeable - even freida, and yet in spite of this, I found myself rooting for her to be okay in the end, and to get what she wanted. And then there was isabel, who felt like a voice of reason amongst the screams of sexism and inequality. She shattered the boundaries of normality in this futuristic society, and I loved how when freida was talking about isabel's weight gain, isabel just said "but it's my body." You should be allowed to be whatever shape and size you want to be, and do whatever you want with your body. 

So much of this book was about how girls and women perceive each other. We all take each other on a critical level, and I feel like no real friends could ever be formed in this future because everyone was always competing to be #1 in the rankings. To be a feminist is horrific, and to have intelligence is a sin. Beauty is everything. There is constant competition to be the prettiest, and to look the best, but isn’t what we define as pretty different in every person’s eyes? Perfection is key, and yet so many of the girls suffered from diagnosable mental health problems including bullimia and anorexia. Such immense corruption fills this bleak future. Of any dystopian world I have ever read about, this is by far the worst.

I could write another six paragraphs bursting with spoilers, but you really  need to go into Only Ever Yours with little knowledge of what lies amongst the pages. If you're a feminist, this will hugely strengthen your beliefs. If you're not, or know someone who isn't, then I seriously suggest you pick up this book, read it, and then have a careful think about where you stand. 

Shocking, intense and a complete page turner - this book has made me even more of a feminist than I was before. 

Holly x

Monday, 13 July 2015

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 5th January 2012
Pages: 387
Genre: Sci-Fi, Retelling
Source: Bought
Rating: 3 Stars 
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She's a second class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister's illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai's, she suddenly inds hersel at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal,, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world's future.

By now, you may have gathered that my favourite genre is contemporary, and I find it really difficult to immerse myself in any other genres. Science Fiction is the last genre I thought I'd enjoy. But Cinder has changed this opinion.

In case you didn't know already from the title and cover, Cinder is a fairytale retelling of Cinderella with a Sci-Fi twist. The twist is that Cinder is a cyborg, and that little thing sends the story in a completely different direction.

When I mentioned a "completely different direction", that's exactly what I mean. The story was SO different from the original fairy tale, but if you keep an eye out, you notice the little details that are so key in Cinderella e.g; The Fairy Godmother isn't noticeable at first, nor is the pumpkin carriage. I've always loved fairy tales, and I feel that the way Marissa Meyer transformed such a famous tale into a terrifying futuristic novel in which humans live on both the Earth and the Moon, but the two are at war.

This is very much a character driven book - and I immediately found myself liking Cinder. She was so misunderstood and ignored in her society because of an accident in her past that meant she lost an arm and a leg, thus now being a cyborg. Kai is also a brilliant character, although he is easily swayed by others - Queen Levana to name an example. Levana is such a mysterious ruler and clearly is symbolic of pure evil. 

Don't worry, I'll stop rambling in a moment but I just want to talk about my favourite character from the book..... Iko! Iko is Cinder's android friend and she is just hilarious. At the time of writing this, I'm currently reading book 2 and if Iko carries on like this, she may soon be one of my favourite characters from any book :)

This certainly isn't the fairy tale you'll remember, but it definitely isn't one you will forget.
Holly x

Monday, 6 July 2015

Now Quoting:: We Were Liars

We Were Liars by E Lockhart is such an unusual read. Mysterious, delicate and mind 
boggling, upon picking this up, you will not want to put it down. At only 220 pages, every paragraph is magical. Now, as summer is coming once again, I strongly recommend that you read this.

Holly x
Images from here and google images

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

[Courage, Dear Heart] The Narnian Book Tag

The lovely Rachel from Booktastic Reviews created this tag, and as a lover of Narnia (the films - I'm planning to read the books this summer!), I thought it would be great to help spread this in the book blogosphere :)

1) King Peter the Magnificent - A book which stands out in its genre.
For me personally, I feel like Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley stands out in YA Historical Fiction. I hate historical fiction, but this was about racism in 1950's America, and the relationship between two girls of different races who fall in love. A fantasticly good read!

2) Queen Susan the Gentle - A book which is underrated.
Firecracker by David Iserson caught my eye because of Iserson being a writer for New Girl and I've not her another soul mention this book. It's fascinting to see from inside the mind of a troublemaker as they become a better person. This book deserves so much more praise - and I'm surprised it isn't more popular. 

3) King Edmund the Just - A book that took a while to hook you in.
Recently I read Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill. This book was phenomenal but at the very beginning the startlingly different writing style was overwhelming and I struggled to immerse myself in what was happening. 

4) Queen Lucy the Valiant - An on-going series you're loyal to.
This is tricky because I don't read many series. I struggle to commit to something over the course of many years because a) it's a big investment and b) my taste can change very quickly.  Probably The Jewel by Amy Ewing, the second book in the trilogy; The White Rose, is out in October and I CAN'T TELL YOU HOW EXCITED I AM.

5) Aslan, the Great Lion - A powerful book that stuck with you.
I feel like Every Day by David Levithan has made me reevaluate how important every day of life is. I read it back in April and even now, it's enchanting words are now greatly influencing the way I live.

6) Jadis, the White Witch - A book with a synopsis that deceived you.
Has anyone else read Entangled by Cat Clarke? Holy moly, that is one deceiving synopsis. I probably shouldn't have told you that though. FORGET I SAID ANYTHING. Anyway, please read this book - Cat Clarke deserves a lot more credit for her stunning writing than she gets.

7) Mr and Mrs Beaver - Your comfort reads.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is my main comfort read because it effects me on a personal level. Also the Anna & the French Kiss trilogy BECAUSE THEY'RE SO FLUFFY.

8) Mr Tumnus - A book with a surprising twist.
The Jewel by Amy Ewing. Yes, I've already mentioned this book, but I love it too much to not include it here. The twist at the end - the VERY LAST LINE - left me speechless. 

9) Cair Paravel - A book with a beautiful message.
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli has one of my favourite messages from any book. At the time I didn't particularly love this but the overall messages of don't change who you are for others and always be yourself are so powerful. Stargirl has a very extroverted personality and has many quirks that she gets bullied for, but her confidence is never knocked. 

10) The Land of Narnia - Your favourite fantasy world.
I REALLY don't tend to enjoy fantasy, and haven't read very much of it. That's something I'd love to change in the future though. Is it okay to go with the typically conventional answer of the Wizarding World from Harry Potter? I WANT TO LIVE THERE!

I tag:: Rita from Weaving Pages, Cait from Paper Fury, and Georgia from The Bibliomaniac Blog!

Holly x