4.5 stars

Review: Radio Silence


Radio Silence
By Alice Oseman
Series: None (Stand alone)
Source: Book Depository
Format: Paperback
Published: 25th February 2016 by Harper Collins
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT+

What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?

Frances has always been a study machine with one goal, elite university. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside.

But when Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself. Then the podcast goes viral and the fragile trust between them is broken.

Caught between who she was and who she longs to be, Frances’ dreams come crashing down. Suffocating with guilt, she knows that she has to confront her past…

She has to confess why Carys disappeared…

Meanwhile at uni, Aled is alone, fighting even darker secrets.

It’s only by facing up to your fears that you can overcome them. And it’s only by being your true self that you can find happiness.

Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.

Solitaire, Alice Oseman’s previous book, was one of my favourite books of 2014, so I’ve been anticipating this ever since I read that (which was in the summer that year!). I went in with super high expectations, not only because I’ve been full on stalking this book, but the author has promised literally everything I want in a book on Tumblr. Thankfully, I absolutely adored it! It was everything I hoped for and more, and it’s probably one of the best books I’ve read in 2016 so far. 

At the start, this book seems super happy, but it takes some really dark turns. It has some pretty grim messages, but I thought they were handled really well. I liked how the book took a different spin on university - I’m still in high school, but I think it showed a more realistic portrayal of life. There were some really important messages about mental health and living on your own, which makes me want to recommend it to everyone even more!

One thing this book does really well is mother/daughter relationships. Francis (the main character) has a really positive relationship with her Mum - they’re both really supportive of each other, which was refreshing to read about. I find that often in YA, parents are either dead or non-existent, so I was glad to see something more realistic!

Another character in the book has a very poignant relationship with his mother, but this one wasn’t as positive. The contrast was written spectacularly, so it made the abuse even more shocking. These particular scenes were harrowing to read, but I think they were so important (as well as being crucial to the plot). They were handled with care which I really respect, because abusive parents can be a sensitive issue.

My favourite thing was all the diversity. This book pretty much had everything: LGBT+ characters, racial and ethnic diversity, and even an agender character! I know the author is a huge advocate for diverse books, and this book really does the movement proud. It’s one I’ll be recommending for the sole basis of how well written the diversity is!

Overall, I would highly recommend this to everyone. It ended so well (everything was rounded off, and it was super satisfying) too. Basically, this book had everything I look for in a book! Reading it made me feel so happy, and it’s become one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. It will definitely be one I’ll re-read soon!

3.5 stars

Review: Rebel of the Sands


Rebel of the Sands
By Alwyn Hamilton
Series: Rebel of the Sands #1
Source: Netgalley
Format: e-ARC
Published: 4th February 2016 by Faber & Faber
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance,

"Tell me that and we'll go. Right now. Save ourselves and leave this place to burn. Tell me that's how you want your story to go and we'll write it straight across the sand."

Dustwalk is Amani's home. The desert sand is in her bones. But she wants to escape. More than a want. A need.

Then a foreigner with no name turns up to save her life, and with him the chance to run. But to where? The desert plains are full of danger. Sand and blood are swirling, and the Sultan's enemies are on the rise...

**I received a free e-book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does in no way alter my opinions**

I’ve been wanting this book for so long, so when I saw it on Netgalley, I was so excited to read it!! I’d heard pretty much only good things before reading, so my expectations were pretty high. It did disappoint me a bit, but I still enjoyed the book, just not as much as I hoped I would. It was extremely well written, but some things let it down (for me).

The main fault I had was the pacing. I really liked the opening - it was fast and very exciting, but after that, it dipped for a bit. There were lots of exciting action scenes, which were written so well, but there was also a lot of world-building at the start which took a long time. This book took me ages to get into, and it never had me completely hooked. There were just some really slow points that let it down. 

I really loved the protagonist, Amani. Right from the start, I was rooting for her - she was so badass, and amazing at fighting, right from the first page. I loved how she was really emotionally strong as well; even when going through really tough circumstances, she didn’t crack or become irritating to read about. I liked the way she was flawed too! Amani wasn’t perfect, but that’s what made her feel more real, and made me care about her even more. 

The romance was executed very well too. I liked the way it was slow-burning throughout novel - the love interest had an instant connection with Amani, but they weren’t involved romantically straight away too. There was no insta-love at all!

The love interest was a really interesting character. I liked him, and liked him with Amani, because he was so caring and selfless. He genuinely cared for Amani and put her first, but didn’t try to hinder her when she was being such a badass. He was a strong character too, and I enjoyed reading about him!

I loved the setting. Although at the start the world building became a bit info-dumpy, I found it so interesting, because the culture is so different to what we have in modern society. Most dystopian settings have some resemblance to today, but I found it much harder to see in this book. I liked the beautiful descriptions of the deserts, and the rich language and specialist terminology made the book so much more unique. 

Overall, I’d really recommend this if you’re prepared to sit through lengthy descriptions, to get to a stunning setting. The characters are so likeable, and the plot is so original, so even if you get bored with the slow pacing, it’s still a really interesting book. It’s a really unique and diverse read!


Do you change your ratings of books?


Is it bad to change your original rating of a book? I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely guilty of this. When I come to review a book a couple of months later, my opinions have often changed, so I would change my original rating on Goodreads. This usually happens if it was book I didn’t love, or didn’t feel very strongly about - I know when I love a book!

This happened today (as of writing). I came to write my review of a book that I didn’t love (but didn’t hate either) - I didn’t have very strong opinions on it, so I didn’t think about it at all in the period of time from finishing it, and writing my review. I come to rate it, but I deduct a start from what I originally rated it on Goodreads. Is this bad? *whispers* Especially if it’s an ARC?

On the one hand, it can be really unfair to the book to lower the rating months after initially reading. If I’d just stopped being so lazy (and written my review when I should have!), it would have been rated higher! It doesn’t seem right to me - I can’t remember the book as much as I could, so I’m not in a position to change my opinion. 

Though, I have had longer to think about my opinions. I always rate the book almost immediately after finishing (who doesn’t head straight to Goodreads after finishing a book?), so my judgement will always be pretty rash. After having a while to muse over my thoughts, wouldn’t my opinions be more truthful, anyway?

We’ve got to take the other end of the spectrum into account too. Sometimes I add a star to my original rating! Is that better? After having time to think about the qualities of the book, I often realise more of the good things. My rating is mainly influenced by the ending, so after having time to consider the whole book, I often realise that I enjoyed it more than I thought.

I think the main reason changing ratings is unfair is because I don’t do it for all books. Some I review straight away, and my rating stays the same forever *gasp*, whereas in others it takes me months to finally write a review (let’s just ignore this fact, okay? I’m not a bad blogger, I swear...).

If I reviewed them all immediately, there wouldn’t be any rating changes, and all my reviews would be exactly how I thought about the book. It would be a lot more of how the book made me feel! If I waited a couple of months to review them all, I think a lot more ratings would be changed. My reviews would be much more balanced too!

But, I like the balance of reviews on my blog! (Or I like being lazy!) I like the way that some of my reviews are my immediate reactions, and are buzzing with exactly how I felt about the book. The others are more reasonable and logical, and I like that too!

The thing I need to do to make my ratings fairer is to not rate books straight away, unless I’m completely sure (ie a definite favourite). It’s hard to resist Goodreads though! I think I’ll still be feeling a little guilty (I always do if I rate a book badly) for changing the rating, but I am entitled to my own opinions - that includes changing what I think, too!

Do you ever change your ratings? Do you think it's bad to change the ratings of books after you've read them?

Anna and the French Kiss

Popular Books I Don't Want to Read


Hype can be a good thing in the book blogging community, or it can be really off-putting for *poor souls* like me, who just don’t want to read some books! It can be scary to not like a book, but something that can be even scarier is outright saying: "I don't want to read this!". So, here are the books I just don’t want to read anymore: **Sorry if I offend you, or your favourite book! These are just my opinions... it doesn't mean they're the right ideas!**

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
There’s been so much love for these books going around recently, it’s been almost impossible for me to hide away from them. It seems like everyone has read them, and everyone has loved them! I’m not a huge fan of retellings as it is, and there’s just something about them is a real turn-off. Not to mention those ugly (!!) covers.

A few years ago, I attempted to read the first, but I got about 50 pages in and had to put it down. I think I might have enjoyed them if I'd managed to persevere more, but now, they don't appeal to me at all. If a film is made, I might give that a go though!

Love Letters to the Dead
Again, this sounds awfully dull, dreary, and cliched. I honestly don’t think there’s any element of this book that makes me want to read it. I don’t think I would be able to stand the protagonist for a whole book, and the plot sounds practically non existent. I understand that some may find this a “beautiful book”, but a lot of reviews I trust haven’t rated this one highly.

Everything Everything
This will probably be a pretty unpopular opinion because it’s a relatively new release, but this book sounds awful (imo), and I know I would hate it. It’s good that it has the racial diversity and mental illness aspects, but that seems to be where the desirable points end (apart from that cover, ahh it’s so beautiful!). The characters and romance sound like they would irritate me, and my sister DNFed it. I do like the look of the illustrations though!

Any more Jennifer L. Armentrout books
I read Don’t Look Back in May (review here), and actually quite enjoyed it, but when I read Obsidian in June, I hated it with every inch of my being (review here), which made me vow to never read one of her books again. By reading the synopses of her other books, they seem to be pretty similar, and carry some of the same messages that I hated in Obsidian. She also seems to be pretty much a paranormal/urban fantasy writer, and I’ve gone off those genres a bit, recently!

The Maze Runner series
I tried to read the first one, but I just couldn’t. I thought it was terribly dull, and got about 70 pages in before I just had to DNF. There’s been so much love for these (what with the film and everything!), but I know they just won’t be for me. I know everything that happens anyway (seriously, what’s with all the spoilers floating around?), so I just think: what would be the point in reading them, for me?

The 5th Wave

This just seems way too confusing! I do love sci-fi and aliens, but I think I wouldn’t like the (apparent) switching of POVs. I’m not too keen on reading it now anyway, because the film’s been released, and I wouldn’t be able to imagine the characters the way I want. (Does anyone else get this?). I might have enjoyed it a few years ago, but I don’t want to read the series now.

Anna and the French Kiss (and companion novels) by Stephanie Perkins
I’ve got nothing against this book, except I just don’t think it will be for me. I think the market for cisgendered m/f romances is much oversaturated, so I don't think this will be interesting to me at all. From what I've seen, it seems pretty generic, but I can see how some will love them! I just don't think I will enjoy this series (I might be a little late to the party too!)

The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
I’ve read the first Harry Potter book, and I didn’t like it. I started reading the second, and I couldn’t get through it. I’ve seen all the films, and I didn’t really like them either. It’s fair to say this world isn’t for me! Harry Potter is probably the most loved series ever, so I do feel a little bad for saying this... though not really! (Unpopular opinion time) I don’t want to read this series, and I wish everyone would stop talking about them, and assuming that everyone loved the series. I know they just aren't for me!

What are the books you don't want to read? Which popular series didn't you enjoy?

4 stars

Review: Snow Like Ashes


Snow Like Ashes
By Sara Raasch

Source: Library, paperback
Published: 14th October 2014, Balzer + Bray
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

The first thing that struck me about this book was the cover (I think it’s beautiful, and I really love all the detail), so when I looked into what it was actually about, I thought I might give it a go! I’m a fan of YA fantasy, so I went in not knowing much, apart from that everyone seems to love it! Thankfully, I really enjoyed it, even though I did find it to have a few flaws.

What I Liked

  • The writing: I really enjoyed the writing style. I found it easy to get into, and never too complicated. It was quite simple, which I think worked really well for the book, because we could focus more on the plot and world building. I’m sometimes a little worried that I’ll find new fantasy series too hard to get into, but that was never the case with this book - this was down to the writing!
  • The pacing: I have to say, this is one of the best paced books I’ve ever read. I was never bored, yet never confused because things were moving too quickly. It was paced with such skill, which made the book so much better. I think pacing is one of the most important things in a book, so I’m glad it was done so well!
  • The action and adventure: There were lots of action scenes in this book which I really enjoyed. It was a really exciting adventure story, and I liked following everything that was happening. I found myself really caught up in what was happening, and I liked being so invested in the story!

What I Didn't Like

  • The romance: What even was the romance?! It was weird, cringe worthy, and just messy. There was a completely unnecessary love triangle-type thing going on, which I really didn’t enjoy. It wasn’t too overbearing, which was fortunate for me, but I didn’t love the protagonist, Meira, with any of the love interests, so I’m hoping it will be sorted out in the rest of the series.
  • The characters: I didn’t like Meira. She got off to a bad start for me, as she made a really stupid and selfish decision which put others in danger. She was brave, heroic, and strong in places, but overall I didn’t enjoy reading about her. It was also a bit of case of “the chosen one”, which didn’t bode well. She didn’t make the book feel original at all, because she was quite typical for the genre.
  • The cliches: This book is a prime example of a typical YA fantasy. It literally has everything you’d expect from the genre: a love triangle, a divided world, the protagonist is the chosen one who can save the day, and a touch of magic. I was skeptical of how it ticked every box for boring YA fantasy, and sadly, it stayed the same throughout the entire book, and didn’t get any more unique.

I feel like I should hate this book, but I really can’t. It was so enjoyable, and I’m really pleased with the way it ended! I hope to read more of the series as soon as I can, because if it carries on being as good as this, I think I’m really going to enjoy them. Raasch is a very talented writer, so I hope to read more of her books in the future!

Monthly Favourites

February Favourites


I'm always really sick of February... it's cold, and nothing good usually happens. I think I enjoyed this month loads though! I also gathered quite an impressive book haul... I can't wait to read all the books I bought!

This month, I went to Poland with the school, and had one of the best times of my life! We went to Auschwitz-Birkenau, which was a harrowing and really emotional experience, but it was definitely worth it, because it’s so important to learn about history like that. We also did fun things, like have a traditional jewish meal, and listen to a traditional jewish live band. We had some free time in the city of Krakow too, which I really enjoyed!

Clockwise from top left: Engravings done by workers in the salt mine, where they filmed Schindler's List and real old Jewish houses, chairs representing the concentration camp in the same square, a renovated Synagogue (now turned into a museum)

I think this month was a pretty good month for me, in the sense that I discovered a few new bands that I’m pretty much in love with. I’ve really been enjoying Creeper’s music, and I love SWMRS’ new album, Drive North. Also, a band I’ve rediscovered my love for, Catfish and the Bottlemen, finally released some new music. It’s only one song, but I’ll take what I can get! (song featured in the playlist below)

I met some authors!
In my home city, two of my favourite authors, Juno Dawson and Lisa Williamson, held an event, discussing LGBT+ history month. I was lucky enough to get tickets, and I had an amazing time! I think they’ve both taught me a lot about transgender issues, and I had loads of fun too. They were both really funny!

I was super pleased to find out they were doing a signing, and meet and greet too. I got Lisa to sign her book, The Art of Being Normal, and Juno to sign her first book, Hollow Pike. It was even personalised, which makes it my first signed and personalised book! I got to take a picture with them, and although I look creepy af a bit odd in all the pictures, it gives me a nice memory of the event. 

On the blog
I’ve been struggling to post very regularly because I’ve had a lot of schoolwork, but I have manage to schedule some posts for March, so I’m pleased about that! This month I reviewed Blood, Ink & Fire and All of the Above, and discussed the books that have changed me. I also wrapped up January, and did the Reader Confessions Tag!

Monthly Haul

There was February half term this month, and my Grandma came over, who bought me some books, which was so kind of her. I also won two giveaways!

How Hard Can Love Be? by Holly Bourne
The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson
Hollow Pike by Juno Dawson
Cruel Summers by Juno Dawson
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Solitaire by Alice Oseman
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Books I Read
This month I read 4 books, and continued reading/started 2. I enjoyed all of the books I’ve read, so even though I didn’t get through many, I think I still had a good reading month! The Books I read are:
The Art of Being Normal
Asking For It
I Call Myself a Feminist

And the books I’m currently reading are:
The Shining (I WILL finish this in March!!)
Rebel of the Sands

Posts on the blogosphere

How was your February? Did anything exciting happen? ☺