Tuesday, 31 December 2013

A New Start

Today is December 31st or as its better known New Years Eve. This is the day we reflect on what the past year has brought us.


The past 12 months I've gone by in a blur, I graduated from university with a 2:1 and I couldn't be more proud of myself, after battling with depression throughout university and having to take time out to recover, going back and finishing felt amazing, I put everything I had into graduating and making sure I got a good grade and stepping up to get my diploma made everything I've been through these past 5 years seem worth it. I became a stronger person. I still have my moments of self doubt but these are far and few between, I finally learnt to look in the mirror and be happy with who is staring back at me, I rediscovered my passion for music and now life isn't so quiet anymore.

 I met some wonderful people through my teen book club, we converse for hours on end about books and I love being able to share my passion with other people. I went to Wembley to watch my first ever NFL game and even though it wasn't the Packers the experience was amazing.

And most of all I got to spend the year with my boyfriend Ben, I couldn't be more proud of what he has achieved this year and what he has managed to overcome. Overall this year was pretty great, it had plenty of ups and downs but I wouldn't change it for the world.

Now onto next year, I see big changes in my future but that's for another post!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephine Perkins

“I mean, really. Who sends their kid to boarding school? It's so Hogwarts. Only mine doesn't have cute boy wizards or magic candy or flying lessons.”

Anna and the French Kiss has become one of my all time favourite YA books. I started and finished it all in one day, I haven't been so captivated and entranced by a book in such a long time. The romance is beautiful and the story line is sweet and endearing. I could harp on and on about this book all day and believe me I have been to my friends. It made my happy, I think I actually read this book with a huge grin on my face it was that good.

Anna is shipped off to boarding school by her father and she hates it, she is homesick and lonely.Anna is upset that her father has pulled her away from her best friend and a possible love interest, and the fact that she can't speak any French has left her feeling isolated and insecure. And then she meets a great host of characters, including the charming St Clair, who drag her out of her dorm room to experience the wonders that the city of Paris has. As the story progresses Anna and St Clair develop a beautiful friendship that starts to turn into more, with plenty of obstacles to overcome are Anna and St Clair brave enough to take the leap into something more?

I absolutely adored Anna, she was the type of female protagonist that I could find myself relating too, the girl with the raisin sized gap in her teeth and a stripe in her hair, she was imperfectly perfect. She is shy but has a witty and sarcastic side to her as well. I loved how well Stephanie balanced Anna's homesickness with her excitement to explore a new city, she is the type of character that I find myself becoming connected too, when she is embarrassed I feel embarrassed right along with her and that is a credit to Stephanie to create that type of connection. Anna is sweet and adorable, she over thinks everything down to the tiniest moment and sometimes I wished she would have been a little more perceptive to St Clairs feelings but I think that's one of the things that made the story so special watching there relationship grow throughout the course of the book was beautiful.

“I wish for the thing that is best for me.” 

St Clair was definitely swoon worthy, unlike a lot of other reviewers I didn't get the whole English accent thing, well that being because I am English and its nothing special to me but I do get what makes everyone give him the title of hottest male character. Unusually for a male lead he is actually a sweet, kind and caring guy, at first you can tell he honestly just wants to be a friend to Anna but as they become closer, especially over thanksgiving when they are running through Paris together having the time of there lives you can see the relationship switch but he never makes a move. Yes he has a girlfriend but he does try to do right by her, he tries to work on their relationship but this connection with Anna is always at the back of his mind.

“Why is it that the right people never wind up together? Why are people so afraid to leave a relationship, even if they know it's a bad one?” 

Like Anna St Clair is imperfectly perfect, he has a rubbish relationship with his father and even though he is definitely attractive he does has his imperfections, Stephanie has created two leading characters that are human, they aren't perfect, they both make mistakes but they learn from them and that's what makes them perfect.
Stephanie has created a whole bunch of characters that are just wonderful, you really feel a connection to all of them, they each bring something to the story.

Its not only the characters that makes this book it is also the writing, Stephanie has an amazing way with words, she creates breath taking images of Paris, that you can feel coming alive through the pages. She has turned such a simple plot into something extraordinary, you can feel the tension and the emotions of the characters as they all struggle to come to terms with there feelings, the story is dramatic in its simplicity and yet its so realistic, I could actually imagine this happening. Its Stephanie's writing that creates such an emotional response in her readers, she creates a connection between her characters and her readers unlike other authors.

This book was a breath of fresh air, it was beautiful and heartbreaking and made me want to go back to Paris and have the same experiences as Anna. I wish I could express how much I loved this book, it was beautiful and mesmerizing, Stephanie just has a way with words that creates a world and characters that I would love to experience and to know. Anna is a real character, she sees the world in such a realistic way and honestly she has a rather negative view of it that I can relate too, she suffers from anxiety and stresses about such small things. I feel like I've known Anna a lot longer than a few hundred pages. Considering I'm not normally one for what would be considered romantic fiction I think you can tell that I thoroughly enjoyed this book and maybe in the future I wont be so quick to judge a genre if it contains books like this one. Whatever you do read this book, I promise you wont regret it.

“The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you.” 

My rating: 5

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Legend by Maire Lu

“Each day means a new twenty-four hours. Each day means everything's possible again. You live in the moment, you die in the moment, you take it all one day at a time.”

I was a little bit apprehensive about starting this book, I have read both amazing reviews about this story and not so great ones. However when it was selected to be our book group read I knew I finally had an excuse to read it and while not perfect I have to say I really enjoyed reading Legend. It was a fast paced and thrilling read that had me turning page after page.

Legend is set in a dystopian world known as the Republic that was once the United States, 15 year old June is a prodigy who scored a perfect score in her trails, this has placed her on the fast track to a high ranking position within the army, she is the perfect solider with her keen observation skills and quick reflexes. However one day her older brother Metias is murdered and the suspect is notorious criminal known as Day. June vows to get revenge for her brothers murder and to bring Day to justice, she will do anything to track him down and as she begins her hunt she soon starts to unravel the dark and disturbing truth about the society she has put all of her faith in.

Day was by far my favourite character, known as the most wanted criminal in the Republic, he is not the person society thinks he is. He was sweet and nurturing with Tess, he makes sure she is protected at all times and he even though his family think him dead he still does all he can to protect them, even breaking in to a government hospital to steal plague cures for them, which is the cause of all his future problems, he is a modern day Robin Hood, he steals from the rich (the republic) to help the poor (the lower society). Yet Day is also cocky and smart, he knows he is good at what he does and he has a way about himself that comes across as charming, even when he is getting beaten up, he'll come out with a snarky response which will make me laugh yet I know its just a mask to cover up how lonely and hurt he is by the horrors the republic inflicted on him. Sometimes I just wanted to hug him and tell him it would all be okay.

What to say about June? I suppose out of the two leading characters June is the one who grows more than anyone during this book. At the beginning she is a little insufferable and honestly I was rushing through her parts just to get back to Day. She is the republics prodigy and a little naive to the world around her, she trusts far too easily and never questions anything until Day comes into her life. Saying that she is definitely a kick ass heroine, she is just as good if not better then most of the male characters in this story and when she starts to question society, she becomes a lot more likeable. It is a real testament to Lu's writing that she is able to change my mind on how I feel about June, she becomes vulnerable and lost in a world she thought she knew. My favourite parts with June are when she is remembering her brother, it breaks my heart and I can feel her loneliness pouring out of the pages.

“The memory fades, and I’m left hanging on to the ghosts of his words.” 

I know I've seen a lot of complaints about the romance in this story but I actually liked how it wasn't at the forefront of the story, I'm a little fed up with every story having to be overly romantic. So it was nice to see that even though these characters feel a connection that isn't why they risk everything for each other. June acts because she knows its the right thing to do, she wants justice for her brothers murder but she wont let just anyone pay.

Legend is a really great book, Lu has created an action packed thriller that doesn't let up. The interactions between Day and June really made this book what it is. The chapters alternate between the two characters pov and so you get a real insight into each mind. Day and June both have unique voices and it made the book even more intense as you got a great perspective of what each character is going through even when they are together. Both characters have similar qualities, they are smart and strong-willed and yet both are so troubled, they learn a lot from each other and it helped me appreciate more what a different lives they have lead, As well as being full of suspense it is also an emotional story both Day and June have a lot of baggage that they are trying to work through.

So onto the negatives, the world building in this book isn't great, the thing will dystopian fiction is that we as the reader need to have a real feel for the world, we need to understand the world in which the characters are interacting and the world in which they have grown up in to really get a feel for them and I didn't really get that with this story. I was left a little lost at the beginning as to how this world came to be and a little bit of the political back story, as the book progresses we do start to get a little more of an insight about the world before the republic and little clues sand hints start to be dropped which I'm hoping will develop more in the second book. The other thing I didn't like was how quickly characters were able to solve the mysteries in the book, they seemed to be able jump to amazingly accurate conclusions with very little evidence and I just couldn't believe that that would actually happen, even if you are a prodigy, it just didn't seem believable to me.

If you like dystopian fiction then definitely pick this up, its a fun and fast read that will have you turning the page in search for answers.

My Rating: 3.5

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

“I’ve seen most of what
there is to be afraid of in this world, and to tell you the truth,
the worst of them are the ones that make you afraid in the
light. The things that your eyes see plainly and can’t forget
are worse than huddled black figures left to the imagination.
Imagination has a poor memory; it slinks away and goes
blurry. Eyes remember for much longer.” 

Have you ever heard a strange sound or seen a cat hissing at something that isn't there, your hair stands up on the back of your neck and yet you tell yourself there isn't anything there, that your being silly. Well Cas Lowood would tell you different, those noises, that creepy feeling you get, that my friend is a ghost. 

Cassius Theseus Lowood has had a somewhat unconventional upbringing, he never stays in one place for very long, his mother is a white witch and his father, well his father hunted the dead for a living a job that is now Cas' after his father is brutally murdered by one of the ghosts he was trying to kill. You see if a person is murdered in a particularly gruesome way they tend to not move on from the place they died and they have a tendency to recreate their deaths with the living and so Cas using his powerful atheame sends them on to some unknown place. Cas' next 'ghost' is Anna, known locally as 'Anna dressed in Blood', Anna was killed nearly 60 years ago and has killed anyone who has ever entered her home,  she is one of the most powerful ghosts Cas has ever encountered and there is also something else unusual about her, something that Cas needs to unravel.

I didn't know what to expect when I started reading Anna dressed in Blood and yet I was thoroughly surprised, it is spooky and atmospheric, everything you want from a horror novel. Blake's descriptive writing makes the book what it is, the scenes describing Anna killing are horrific and I was thoroughly freaked out when Cas was in the basement and Anna was making him see the bodies of those she has killed. And yet its more than just Blake's ability to be vividly descriptive, yes she can make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck and I could envision Anna in all her bloody glory but it was also beautiful and elegant in a way that made it hard to put down. Blake created such a dark and gothic novel and yet it is has these light moments that were funny and sweet. 

Rather unusually for a YA book and especially one that has a little bit of romance in it, this book is narrated by a male character. Usually I struggle with male protagonists in this genre because more often then not they aren't written in a way I find relatable. However Cas does not have this problem, he is charming and funny and it seemed like Blake really has a great insight into the mind of boys that made this book exciting and readable.

Another thing I really appreciated about this novel was the fact that Blake created a haunting character in Anna, she has suffered through such terrible things and in turn done horrific things to other people and yet like Cas we learn to grow to actually like Anna. She is broken and lonely, she breaks you heart and yet Anna is responsible for a lot of the creepy scenes in this story. Once again its Blake's writing that can paint Anna as a monster, a vengeful and furious spirit capable of ripping a boy limb from limb and then in the second half can have us feeling such a great amount of pity for Anna when we find out the circumstances surrounding her death. 

Even though this story is all about Anna, Cas is still a great protagonist, he is egotistical and confident in a way that isn't necessarily annoying, he kills ghosts for a living, wouldn't you have a little bit of a confidence problem if that's what you did but he is also a nice guy, he treats those around him with respect and I really loved the scenes with him and Anna as he was trying to get to know her, he was sweet and kind and Blake made Cas a realistic character, he wasn't invincible he is just a boy trying to carry on his fathers legacy. 

Full of twists and turns, Anna Dressed in Blood is a gripping paranormal story, it is not only a dark and sinister story full of blood and gore but it is also a beautiful love story.This is a true horror story, that will have you leaving the lights on when your sleeping and terrified to turn the page, It is a spine tingling and will have to enraptured from start to finish.

“She’s standing above me the goddess of death, black lips and cold hands.”

Don't say I didn't warn you.

My Rating: 4.5

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout

“Will you show me what you really look like? You don't sparkle, do you?”

Having seen so many rave reviews about Obsidian I was a little unsure about reading, I'd seen the synopsis and I worried that it was going to be another Twilight but after seeing one of my favourite booktubers absolutely rave about this book I knew I had to give it a try and I am really happy that I did. Yes there are a few similarities between that and Twilight but believe me its so much more and eventually the similarities end and it becomes a story all of its own. Jennifer Armentrout is definitely becoming a major player in the world of paranormal fiction, with her adult and young adult series she is not to be missed out.

Obsidian is the story of 17 year old Katy who moves with her mother to a small town in the middle of nowhere for her senior year of high school,  after her father passed away from cancer. The last thing Katy wanted to do was move away but here she is. As a new comer to town Katy is in for the adventure of her lifetime, she gets off to a bad start when meeting bad boy Daemon (her dark and brooding neighbour), its instant dislike between the two of them but she instantly becomes best of friends with his twin sister Dee. Katy and Daemon have a rocky relationship, he is rude and opinionated and Katy can't stand to spend any time with him yet she is unable to deny the burning attraction between them and when Katy finds herself in trouble its Daemon who comes to her rescue, however Katy soon realises that not all is at it appears with her neighbours, they aren't normal......in fact they aren't human.......their Aliens.

From the very first page I was sucked in to the world of Obsidian and I was hooked. It had that addictive quality to it that make paranormal books such a treat to read. Katy was a great leading lady, she is smart, beautiful, strong and determined. She doesn't let Daemon walk all over her, he treats her like dirt and yet she doesn't back down, she doesn't take anything from anyone. She is brave and funny and we see her grow so much in this book, the Katy at the start is definitely not the same Katy at the end. I can I just say I loved how she was a blogger, it was great to see a character who is in love with books as much as I am and to hear her talk about the blogging community from in my mail box to waiting on Wednesday and to see her get all shy and defensive about the books she loves. She reminded me of me when I talk about books to other people, I really do have defend why I read so much to people sometimes.

And I can't not talk about Daemon, Daemon, Daemon, Daemon. Oh how I love you and hate you all at the same time. He is definitely attractive, the type of book boyfriend girls swoon over all the time and yet he has such an ugly personality especially at the beginning of the book that it makes him really unattractive.

“Beautiful face. Beautiful body. Horrible attitude. It was the holy trinity of hot boys.” 

The chemistry between him and Katy is hot and heavy from the start and their is no denying that there is something between them as much as Daemon tries to. As the story progresses and we learn more about Daemon and Dee we get to learn about why he acts the way he does. He is loyal and protective of this family and he wont let anyone hurt those he loves and so I do learn to understand why he treats Katy a certain way in the beginning (I still don't like it though). Plus Daemon doesn't really change that much, he loves to wind Katy up and I love the back and forth banter between the two of them.

And finally Dee, I would love to have Dee as my best friend, the friendship between Dee and Katy was great, Dee was so sweet and funny. I loved when she had a fit about someone eating all her ice cream because who doesn't get mad when someone eats our favourite junk food. At the beginning she is just a lonely girl, the only friends she has are those deemed safe enough by Daemon aka other Aliens and so when Daemon tries to push Katy away from her sister, Dee fights for their friendship, she is just as loyal to those she loves as Daemon or Katy are.

The storyline was great, it was well paced and well written. Jennifer can has a real talent for writing witty banter between characters and she definitely knows how to create some hot and steamy sexual tension. The books flows with an ease that a lot of writers struggle with, it seems so natural and effortless, she made me understand Katy and I laughed and became frustrated right along side her. The Luxens and the Arum are great enemies (light vs dark) and I can't wait to learn more about them as the books continue. I also really enjoyed the lack of insta-love between Katy and Daemon, yes there is a mutual attraction but Katy refuses to give in to Daemon after how mean he was to her in the beginning and it was refreshing to see this from an author. Katy is a great heroine, she faces danger to protect those she cares about and is willing to face death for them. Loyalty was actually a big theme throughout this book, all the characters act a certain way because of a sense of loyalty they have to one another.

And the extra bonus chapters in Daemons pov was excellent, I loved, it was great to see how he noticed Katy before she even knew he existed and that he does actually care about her before all the weird Alien stuff. I'm hoping that we get to hear more from Daemon in future books

“If she was mine, I'd cherish every inch of her. And I wanted to. Now” 

This book is more than what I could have ever expected, exciting twists, a unique plot, kick ass action, hot romance and such beautiful friendships. Read this book now, you wont regret it.

My Rating: 5

Monday, 2 September 2013

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

“Libraries were full of ideas–perhaps the most dangerous and powerful of all weapons.” 

I had seen Throne of Glass constantly in work and I knew it was nominated for the Waterstones children's book prize so I was expecting it to be good. I went into this book with high expectations and boy did it deliver. It wasn't without its flaws but it was exciting and full of action and was a great fantasy read. It kept me entertained and engaged throughout and was a wonderful mix of action, romance, mystery and magic set in a fantastical world, full of interesting characters and a fantastic plot.

18 year old Celaena Sardothien is serving out a hard labour sentence in the mines of Endovier after being betrayed by those close to her. Having trained since a young age to be an assassin she was known as 'Adarlan's most feared assassin', she was a cold blooded killer and after being captured she was sent to the mines (mines that no one survives longer than three months) to die. However the guards soon realise she is not easy to kill, she wont be beaten down into submission. Celaena knows she wont survive much longer and so when the Crown Prince offers her the chance to become the Kings Champion which would gaurente her freedom after 4 years service, all she has to do is survive against 23 others in a set of tests that will test their abilities, she gladly accepts. However there is more going on behind the castle walls that first appears, when competitors start mysteriously dying and Celaena starts seeing the ghost of the first Queen of Adarlan she finds herself caught up in a dark evil lurking in the castle. 

Celaena is such a change from the stereotypical characters we often see in books, she is good looking, smart and extremely skilled in combat and she knows it. At first her arrogance can be slightly annoying but Celaena doesn't boast to be able to do anything or know something unless she actually does. As the story progressed I started to like Celaena even more and I liked how the opposing views of her by Dorian and Chaol actually portrayed her in a complete way. One saw her sensitivity and vulnerability where as the other saw her skill, strength and killer instincts  the two opposing views actually make Celaena who she is. 

“We all bear scars,... Mine just happen to be more visible than most.” 

One of my favourite aspects of this story was how feminine Celaena was, she was/is an assassin and yet she still loves the girly things like clothes and her appearance  she is smart and loves to spend her spare time reading, there is more to Celaena then just being an assassin and I liked how Maas showed that girls can kick butt just as good as any guy and still look good doing it. 

And what can I say about the two leading men in this story, I'm not usually a fan of love triangles, in fact most of the time they tend to infuriate me, unless they are done well a lot of them appear to be there if for no other reason then to bring some sort of angst into the story. But Maas actually makes this one work, as I said before the two men, Dorian and Chaol both see Celaena in their own way. Dorian the Prince, who needs Celaena to win a contest that his father the King has made, has had Celaena dragged out of the mines where she was sent to die in order to fight for him, he sees a vulnerable and lonely girl, someone in need of saving, that's not to say he thinks she is weak, he knows she isn't but he sees some of the same vulnerability and the sense of being misunderstood in her that he himself is suffering. I suppose in a way he is looking for someone to connect with, someone he can relate to and I liked the scenes with them bonding over books, they were fun and flirty together and it was a nice contrast to her interactions with Chaol. Chaol the Commander sees her as a warrior  he sees her strength and passion and knows that she has endured so much darkness in her life, Chaol pushes in and has faith in her own abilities that she will be able to survive the trails, at first they are  constantly butting heads, Celaena loathes authority figures and Chaol who wont stand against his cruel King is everything she despises and yet as they grow closer both their feelings grow, it is a slow burn but they once again they see something of each other in themselves. He is a little shy and awkward but not afraid to speak his mind, I love how open and honest he becomes with Celaena. I personally favour Chaol as he is able to love Celaena knowing the darkness that she suffers from, he knows what she is capable of and yet loves her all the same. They have some beautiful moments together and the scene where he is looking up at her from the Castle gardens after the Ball really breaks my heart.

The writing whilst not great was good, it was captivating and engaging and the overall story did keep me hooked. I like the combination of mystery and magic and whilst I kind of figured a few things out it was still very well written and I did end up surprised a few times. The entire cast of characters is great and you get the feeling throughout that they are all still hiding more secrets, I can't wait for the next book to see what's revealed. 

So the negatives, whilst few there is a reason this book isn't five stars for me, the writing was a little bit disorientating at times, the dialogue was sometimes confusing as to who was talking and at times it took me a minute to understand who's pov it was in. And as much as I enjoyed the world there was some bit of it that were a little unclear, I didn't fully understand the magic that supposedly once exsisted or how the world could have changed so much in Celaena's life time but I guess that is something that is probaly going to be explored more fully in future books.

This book is filled to the brim with action, tension, murder, mystery, romance and with a sprinkling of magic. Loyalty is questioned, battle lines are drawn and it is just the start to what is sure to be an epic series.

My Rating: 4.5

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

 “She absorbed the terror and beauty of him and his world. Of every moment over the past days. All of it, filling her up like the first breath she'd ever taken. And never had she loved life more.”                                             
Rossi dives right in to the story from the very first page and uses the show rather then tell technique to develop her world. She drops the reader in right at the beginning of the action with little background information or real explanation as to what is occurring. Instead of being confused and frustrated, it actually made me want to continue on reading to understand more of this strange new world I had found myself in. Rossi managed to pique my interest within the first chapter and kept me intrigued to continue, a trait which many authors fail at. She has managed to take what is now a well developed genre in the YA field and put her own unique slant on it.

In Under the Never Sky the population have been forced into living in 'pods' these are bland structures that separate people from the outside world which has now become near inhabitable due to Aether storms, which are basically very severe electrical storms that consist of lightening and fire raining down from the sky (its all very biblical). These storms have destroyed the landscape and left the world a desolate and dangerous place. The people within in the pods have very limited 'real' interactions with each other, they never truly touch another person instead they communicate and live their lives through eye pieces known as smart-eyes which allow them to alter their realities, they can be partying in Ancient Greece one minute and the next they can be flying, they feel no pain but neither to they know what anything truly feels like. But one day Aria's mother (who has been sent to another pod known as 'bliss') fails to communicate with her, which leaves Aria panicked and she knows Bliss has been hit by one of the Aether storms and so when she hears of her chance to find out more information about her mother she takes it, which is how the story opens. The events that happen that night outside the pod will change Aria's life forever and she will be left questioning everything she thought she knew about herself and the life she leads inside the pods.

Rossi has done a superb job at creating a believable dystopian world, at first it was a world I wanted to live in the smart-eyes sounded like such a cool idea, the idea that you could experience such amazing feats intrigued me but as the story developed and I saw how Aria felt discovering touch and really being able to feel for the first time I realised how deprived the world inside the dome is and as it progresses Aria becomes more human and you see how the people inside the pods lack emotion and empathy, they are unable to connect emotion and killing and it ultimately results in a madness descending upon them. Rossi created a memorable and exciting world and I know that there is still more to uncover in the next instalment. I also really liked the differences between the dwellers and the outsiders or the moles and savages as they refer to each other as. Both groups of people are fearful of each other, they misunderstand each other. It was an intriguing twist that the outsiders developed enhanced senses due to being exposed to the Aether storms, some have better sight/hearing or smell which helps them in their survival on the outside.

Perry and Aria have spilt narration in this book, I liked being able to hear from both of their perspectives, normally I don't think this can work, as either the voices are not distinct enough or I end up not liking one of the characters but Rossi actually made it work here and it helped the story develop and the characters are actually more likeable because of this. I felt like I got to understand their backgrounds more which in turn helped in world development.

Perry and Aria are great leading characters but I don't think either of them could carry the story alone, Rossi has managed to create two strong leading characters that have their own reasons for needing to carry on through extreme circumstances, I could feel their pain and struggles. Aria has to struggle to life outside the dome, she struggles to adjust to her surroundings and Perry's indifference to her, all the while trying to find out what has happened to her mother whilst Perry has to struggle with the guilt he feels over loosing his nephew and the infuriating presence in his life that is Aria. The romance here wasn't insta-love, it was slow building but this made in more believable, at first they couldn't stand each other but as they spent more time together they soon started to realise they aren't as different as they first thought.

This book wasn't non-stop action, it was a slow build at the beginning but it does pick up speed and the plot starts to develop at a faster pace. It was funny and light hearted at some moments with Perry having to tell Aria about her 'Aunt Irma'. This wasn't just a dystopain read, it was a story about family and loyalty and above all trying to survive and keep going in the most pressing of times.

My rating: 4

Soulless by Gail Carriger

Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1)
“She filed the image away as an excellent and insulting question to ask the earl at an utterly inappropriate future moment.” 

The story unfolds with Alexia (our heroine) trying to escape another tedious party she has been forced to attend when a vampire, who fails to introduce himself decides she looks like a tasty snack and what's a girl to do if not to defend herself, which ultimately results in the poor vampires demise and the introduction of Lord Maccon a rather rude and temperamental werewolf who is to investigate the vampires death. Alexia is rather perplexed by the vampires behaviour as well, as they are usually well mannered members of society and decides to investigate this unusual behaviour herself. Will she be able to do all this without running into the deliciously tempting and infuriating Lord Maccon.

This book is charming and witty and wonderfully funny. Alexia is a great heroine, she is smart and feisty and has a wicked mouth on her, she can out-wit the most distinguished members of society. I love the interactions between her and her mother and sisters, they are complete opposites and play off each other perfectly. Alexia is a spinster in the eyes of society, too old to be considered marriage material but she is also what is known as soulless, she has no soul a trait she inherited from her father as well as her Italian looks, Alexia has the ability to turn vampires and werewolves into their human form, an ability that a lot of society is interested in. Some may consider being a spinster a bad thing however Alexia doesn't she loves the freedom it allows her, the chance to be able to do and learn as much as she wants.

Lord Maccon is exactly how I imagined a Scottish Lord of that time to act. He is gruff and irritable but utterly charming, for me he is a wonderful example of both an alpha werewolf and a period gentleman. 

“These feelings you engender in me, my lord, are most indelicate. You should stop causing them immediately.” 

He is demanding and him an Alexia have a great chemistry, its definitely a love/hate relationship between the two of them, they are constantly fighting their attraction towards each other and their witty banter is charming and I was aching for them to hurry up and get on with it.

Gail Carriger created a great setting for these books, it's an alternative reality set in the Victorian era, its the perfect blend of steampunk and fantasy. Even though there are a few historical inaccuracies, with it being a steampunk book that can easily be forgiven. Werewolves and vampires being a common occurrence at dinner parties, people are more concerned with being a perfect hostess then what they are. It was a nice change to the usual vampire/werewolf stories. 

Carriger bought to life the Victorian era for me and even though it was an alternative setting I really felt like it was a wonderful representation of that era, the wit and sophistication created a light and humorous story that was such a joy to read. It had a perfect blend of gothic atmosphere mixed with a very eccentric British behaviour

A funny and scintillating story that doesn't take its self too seriously. If you're looking for an urban fantasy with something a little different then this is the perfect book for you. 

My rating: 3.5 

Saturday, 24 August 2013

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

“Usually we walk around constantly believing ourselves. "I'm okay" we say. "I'm alright". But sometimes the truth arrives on you and you can't get it off. That's when you realize that sometimes it isn't even an answer--it's a question. Even now, I wonder how much of my life is convinced.” 

The Book Thief is one of those books that has sat on my shelf for years, I kept meaning to pick it up and read it but I always found a reason not to (the reason always being another book). Everyone I know who had read it absolutely loved it and I suppose a part of me didn't want to be let down and another bigger part of me really dislikes reading books about wars, I've read a few of them and while I did enjoy them the subject matter always saddens me and so I have always tried to avoid it.

Not knowing much about the book accept it was set in Germany during World War Two, I was pleasantly surprised. The book thief is narrated by death and tells the story of a young girl named Liesel who he becomes fascinated with, Liesel is adopted by the Hubermanns after her mother can no longer look after her. The beginning of the book follows death's first meeting with Liesel after her brother has died in her arms on the way to her foster home and  he watches her steal her first book, The Gravediggers Handbook'. This book is the start of Liesel's life on Himmel street with the Hubermanns, its the book that she learns to read from and the book that creates the connection between her and her stepfather Hans. This book tells the story of one family, their lives during a horrific time, it tells the pain and horror seen during WWII and shows us how even during the darkest times people continue living.

Liesel was a wonderful character, her love affair with books fascinated me, from a girl who couldn't read a single word to someone who is starving for more words. She is fierce and gentle, she is brave and a coward, Leisel is a girl trying to find her self in a world where nothing makes sense. Leisel is real, she is you and she is me.

"She was the book thief without the words.

Trust me, though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like rain.” 

Death narrates the book throughout and beware he does give a lot of spoilers away. At first it was hard to get used to and I know a lot of people may give up because of this but please don't, once I got used to it I started to really like hearing from Death. He sees humanity in such a wonderful way, we are glorious and yet we are so ugly.

“I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn't already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.” 

This book will stay with you long after you finish reading it, it will inspire and leave you awed and yes it will make you cry.  No matter how much Death tries and prepare you for the ending, it will leave you feeling profoundly sad and at the same time shows how people can continue to live on after suffering such profound tragedy. Liesel is a character that will stay with me for a long time.

My rating: 4

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

“Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there's no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.

I remember when this book first came out, I saw the book in work and read the synopsis and I thought it sounded okay but I just wasn't tempted enough to pay for it in hardback and boy was I wrong. The daughter of smoke and bone lives up to its hype and more. From start to finish I was completely transfixed, this book has it all, amazing best friends, hot guys, heart ache inducing forbidden love, paranormal creatures (that are seriously freaky but so cool at the same time) and a lot of angst, seriously this story is brimming with angst but that's one of the reasons its so captivating.

In my opinion Laini Taylor has crafted a beautiful and endearing masterpiece with her story of Karou, this book will emotionally drain you and in the end will leave you speechless, from start to finish Taylor takes you on a journey with Karou, discovering her life and who she really is. It's majestic and its magical.

Karou is a seventeen year old art student in Peru, she had bright blue hair, hangs out in a wonderfully gothic cafe with her best friend and tries her best to avoid her ex-boyfriend who can't take the hint. At first glance Karou appears to be a normal seventeen year old, but alas she is hiding a secret, for Karou has no normal family, she has been bought up by the Chimera, specifically those who grant wishes and she must frequently run errands for them collecting teeth from all over the world. Karou has spent her life in between worlds and she feels like she doesn't fit in either, until one day when she runs into beautiful Akiva and everything she knows shatters.

As you've probably already guessed I adored this book, in particularly the wonderful mix of characters, Karou is feisty and funny and makes mistakes in her life. She regretted loosing her virginity to her ex-boyfriend after he turned out to be nothing but a nightmare, she is inquisitive and is both fearless and vulnerable. Karou appears lost in the world, not knowing who she is or where she belongs.

And Akiva, Madrigal Brimstone, Kaz, Issa, I could go on, every character in this book has a purpose, they are wonderful and charming and I can't wait to learn more about their back stories.

I think one of my favourite aspects of this book was Taylors writing, its is beautiful, emotional and poetic and completely swept me away. It is a wonderful mix of fantasy and seraphim/chimaera  mythology and whirlwind romance. I've read a lot of Angel and forbidden love stories in the past but this one by far surpassed them all. The mystery and suspense throughout this book is crafted amazingly, I never would have guessed the true reason behind Brimstone needing all those teeth or who Karou really is and for that Taylor I thank you, I loved being able to be surprised by a book as that very rarely happens.

This is a must read book, Taylor has created a world that will stretch the limits of your imagination she paints a picture with her words. This story left me speechless and stayed with me long after I had finished reading.

“Wishes are false. Hope is true. Hope makes its own magic.” 

 My rating: 5

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Looking For Alaska by John Green

“Thomas Edison's last words were 'It's very beautiful over there'. I don't know where there is, but I believe it's somewhere, and I hope it's beautiful.”

Can I just say I was never a big fan of contemporary fiction before I read John Green but he has lead me to reassess my reading habits and try more books outside of my comfort zone. Anyway on to the review.

Looking for Alaska tells the story of Miles Halter or 'pudge' as he becomes known. Miles is a friendless high-school student who loves learning famous historical peoples last words. He begs his parents to send him to a boarding school in Alabama were he sees it as his chance to start again and break out of his shell. 

Miles goes to boarding school looking for his 'great perhaps', he wants a life of adventure and honestly I think he is trying to find something to live for and boy does he find it. Alaska Young is Miles idea of perfection from the moment he meets her, she is outgoing, reckless and doesn't care what anyone thinks, the type of person Miles wants to be. Looking for Alaska is spilt into two parts, the first counts down the days to a big event and the second counts the days afterwards. Miles was always looking for the 'Great Perhaps' but I don't think he ever thought it would turn out quite like this.

One of my favourite aspects of this book is how John Green deals with depression, I know some may not agree with me but I think  Green shows how people dealing with depression are not as easy to spot as some may think, they don't mop around and lie in bed all day, some walk out the house with a smile on their face and you wouldn't ever know anything was wrong. Both Miles and Alaska show how depression can affect different people, Miles is an introvert, back home he had no friends and spent most of his time alone but he is determined to overcome this and forces himself to be someone new whereas Alaska is an extrovert, she masks her vulnerability by being loud and exuberant until its too late and before anyone can help.

Once again Green shows how he is a master with his words and his characters, even though I'm a little older than they are I found myself being able to relate to them and for those few short hours I was able to become Miles and see the world from his eyes, a scared teenager just trying to find himself. Green always has a way of creating relatable characters and once again I was able to see parts of myself in them, Alaska the care-free, book loving girl, who finds herself a little bit lost at times and Miles the shy, caring, sweet boy who is looking for something better, trying to find some meaning to his life.

Green's characters are flawed but they are honest and realistic, they deal with situations in a way any teenager might. Overall I thought that Miles found his 'Great Perhaps' he found it in his courage to move to boarding school, in his love (or infatuation) for Alaska and in dealing with the 'after'. At the end of this book Miles has questioned everything about himself but in the process of doing this he has managed to find himself and perhaps now he is ready for another adventure. I don't believe the 'Great Perhaps' is a destination rather a journey Miles takes to find himself. 

Looking for Alaska is a story about finding yourself and loosing yourself, its about love and longing, pain and suffering and not being afraid of searching for your own 'Great Perhaps'. 

My rating: 4.5

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. This weeks topic is top ten books you've read so far in 2013. So far this year I've read 59 books so I had a lot to pick from.

  • Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
  • The Diviners by Libba Bray
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
  • The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
  • Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  • Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
What's been your favourite book so far this year? Any you think I should be reading?

The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa

“There are no good choices, Allison," Kanin offered in a quiet voice. "There are only those you can live with, and those you can work to change.”

Eternity cure picks up a few weeks after the events of the last book with Allie following the call of her sire Kanin who has been taken hostage and is being tortured by a seriously deranged vampire known as Sarren. On her long journey to find Kanin, Allie finds herself partnering with her 'brother' Jackel who is also trying to find Kanin and together they try to free Kanin albeit with different motivations. This is an action packed sequel that definitely doesn't suffer from second book syndrome, full of twists and turns that we leave you wanting more. Kagawa isn't afraid to push the boundaries and she will have you screaming in frustration by the end of this book.

Once again Allie was the tough girl, sometimes she comes across as heartless but with everything that she has had to suffer through I can forgive her for this. She hasn't had an easy life and it doesn't get any easier in this book. She is struggling to hold on to the small piece of humanity left inside of her but life as a Vampire for Allie seems awfully a lot like life as a Fringer, trust no-one and look out for number one. The only times Allies human side comes out is when she is with Zeke, he is the only light left in the dark world she now lives in. Their relationship is sweet and tender and faced with so many obstacles its hard to see them overcoming them all. Kagawa also explored Allies relationship with Kanin a lot more thoroughly  in the first book he was her sire and I understood that she felt some loyalty towards him and so that's why she went searching for him but throughout the Eternity Cure I felt like he was more like a father-figure to Allie she looks to him for guidance and understanding. In the end both these relationships are tested with heartbreaking conclusions.

One of the more surprising aspects of this book was Jackals character, we saw him in the first book as the King of the Raiders trying to find a cure for the rabids. Jackal teams up with Allie in order to help him find Kanin who he believes knows the secrets for the cure. What's surprising about Jackal is that like Allie I found myself warming to him, he was comical and teasing and would often make me laugh during very dark moments in this book. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't supposed to like him but I suppose its a testament to Kagawas wiring that she can turn the villain of one book into the comical bad boy of another. The real villain of this book and I suppose the entire story arc is Sarren, an extremely psychotic vampire hell bent on riding the world of all humans and vampires so that civilisation can start again. Kagawa has created a wonderful villain and because he has a few screws loose you know he is capable of anything which makes these books even more thrilling and compelling.

This book had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish, the story moves along at a great pace and never lets up on the action. Its a dark and deadly world and such an original concept, Kagawa is able to mix vampire and dystopian fiction together seamlessly. This book will leave you breathless, its bloody, violent with just a sprinkling of romance. The jaw dropping ending will have you wishing the next book was already out. 

My Rating: 4

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

“Even in the Future the Story Begins with Once Upon a Time.” 

Cinder is the retelling of the classic fairytale Cinderella with a twist. Set in a dystopian future where the world has been ravaged by four world wars, a plague called leutomis kills within a matter of days and has no known cure. Cinder is a cyborg, living in New Beijing with her two stepsisters and her 'evil' stepmother she works as a street mechanic fixing androids and other mechanical items. Being a cyborg means Cinder is treated as a second class citizen, she is content on living her life as best as she can until one day she meets Prince Kai and her sister falls ill to the plague and then Cinder's whole world starts to fall in around her and she is left questioning who she really is.

I really enjoyed reading this book, it was a fast and easy read but full of action and suspense. It was a never ending roller-coaster with plenty of twists and turns in the plot. Cinder is written in third person mainly from the perspective of Cinder but occasionally from Kai. The writing although not poetic or overly descriptive still manages to have a distinct voice between Cinder and Kai meaning you know instantly who the voice of the chapter is.

I really liked the character of Cinder, she was funny and sweet and the relationships between her and her sister Peony and Iko the android are charming and show a vulnerable side to Cinder. I loved how self-concious she was about her cyborg parts, always making sure they were covered up, she hated how people judged her because of them and again it showed a vulnerable side to her that we rarely see in female leads. Don't be fooled into thinking that she is weak because she isn't, Cinder shows many times how brave and strong she can be, but I liked how Meyer made her a normal girl.

However Prince Kai I wasn't in love with, he is a great male YA character, he is sweet and kind and doesn't look down on Cinder for being a mechanic (he isn't aware of her cyborg nature) but I don't feel like he was a fully fleshed out character. Maybe he will grow on me in future books. I did however like how he had concerns and problems that didn't involve Cinder. Both him and Cinder had their own lives and own issues, their worlds didn't revolve around each other. I did like the relationship between him and Cinder, it wasn't instant love but it was instant attraction. There flirtation was cute and real and as both their worlds are crumbling around them it was nice to see a little light romance at times.

I love the Cinderella arc in this book, I grew up reading fairy-tales and so it was nice to see it refreshed and in a whole new light. Cinder's stepmother isn't as evil as she first comes across, she has had a lot of heartache in her life, her husband adopted Cinder behind her back but before he could return from Europe with her, he contracted the illness and died and so Cinder's arrival in the family came at a very hard time for her. Apart from the whole Cinderella aspect of the book, the other major arc would be the Lunars, these are a race that live on the Moon and are able to use bio-electricity to glamour people into believing and seeing things that aren't there and so they are deemed by the people of earth to be very evil people. The most evil of them to be their Queen, who is the most powerful of the lot. Queen Levana is pure evil, she enjoys playing political games with Kai and the other rulers of Earth, she wants power and will do anything to get it. She feels like a real villain that won't be easily overcome, you can tell just from the first few pages of meeting her that she will do anything to get what she wants. (The Lunars play a major role in this series but I don't want to say too much about them or their history otherwise I will end up spoiling the entire story for you.)

The one flaw I have with this book is the lack of world building, so much back history behind the Lunars and why the world is the way it is, is left out. I don't know whether this was intentional or not but I just wish we knew WHY?

Overall I really enjoyed this book, it was engaging and exciting from start to finish. I would definitely recommend if you like sci-fi or dystopian fiction or are just looking for a little something different. The romance is plausible and Cinder is a great kick-ass lead. This is more than a fairy tale retelling and would be a excellent story without it, the ending left me turning the page and needing more, I can't wait to get my hands on Scarlet.

My rating: 4

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

New Books

These are all the book I bought in May and boy did I buy a lot. I didn't get much reading done in May because I had my final third year exams. No more studying for me :). So most of these books are on my June TBR pile.

 Looking For Alaska By John Green
Eric by Terry Pratchett
Hyperion by Dan Simmons
I am Legend by Richard Matheson
Flowers for Alergnon by Daniel Keys
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe
Cinder by Merissa Meyer
The Beautiful and the Damned by F.Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gastby by F.Scott Fitzgerald
Tender is the Night by F.Scott Fitzgerald
The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
The Steep Approach to Garbadale by Iain Banks
Walking on Glass by Iain Banks
Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Paper Towns by John Green

These books I got for free from book and publishing events I attended through work

Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Casino Royal by Ian Flemming
Misery by Stephen King

Fuse by Julianna Baggott
Fracture by Megan Miranda
Hidden by Marianne Curley
Insignia by S.J Kincaid
Noble Conflict by Malorie Blackman
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

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Green-Eyed Demon by Jaye Wells

“He paused, letting the tension mount. His solemn gaze met mine. "How long are you going to make me wait?"

I considered making a joke. Blowing the whole thing off like nothing had happened. But I cared about Adam too much to dismiss his genuine interest with careless sarcasm. "I don't know."

He stared at me for a few moments. Behind his eyes I could see the wheels turning. Weighing the options and eventualities. Finally, he breathed out through his nose, like expelling bad energy. "Well, I guess that's better than 'never'.”

Green-eyed demon is the third book in the Sabina Kane series, it picks up a couple of days after Sabina's sister has been kidnapped by her Grandmother. I absolutely adore this series, it has everything you could want from an urban fantasy, Vampires, Werewolves, Mages and a kick-ass heroine. We move cities again in this story and Sabina finds herself in the home of voodoo, New Orleans.

This story is all about character progression, Sabina is becoming less cold-hearted and there are many scenes within this book were we see her thinking about her actions instead of just jumping in and thinking about the consequences later. In order to get her sister back she has to learn to work with others and keep her mouth shut at times. Which we know from past books is very hard for Sabina to do. I like how she becomes more open and vulnerable and she is starting to understand more why she is unable to love. Wells does all this though without losing the qualities of Sabina we love so much, she is still pretty much bad-ass, has a wonderful snarky attitude and always manages to piss someone off.

I don't want to give to much away but Sabina and Adams relationship certainly starts to heat up finally (even thought its at a snails pace). After she ran into the arms of another man in the last book,Sabina ends up having a heart to heart with Giguhl about her and Adam and he gives her some very good advice. They still have a lot to work out at the end of the book but the L word may be mentioned by a certain someone at one point. Sabina is finally understanding that letting people in and showing emotion is not a bad thing.

As usual the fight scenes are intense and action packed. Wells never fails to create fast paced and descriptive action sequences that constantly have you wondering if everyone will survive. The big bad evil that the plot seems to centre about was not too much of a surprise I had pretty much guessed it a couple of chapters in but still it is going to make a good story arc for the next story. I loved the setting of New Orleans, I've been there when I went travelling and it made the perfect setting for this story, the graveyards and voodoo queens, really give the story a spooky magical quality.

The only thing I will say about this book is Sabina's actions would at times frustrate me, she seemed to be making progress in admitting how she was feeling and then she would do something stupid again. I know learning takes time but how many times can you learn the same lesson.

Green-Eyed Demon is a fast past and well executed book, it kept me hooked from start to finish. All the characters learn something about themselves and the world around them in this book and not everyone at the end is the same any more.

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Paper Towns by John Green

“The town was paper, but the memories were not.”

Paper Towns follows the story of Quintin 'Q', the one crazy night he spends with Margo Roth Spiegelman and what happens afterwards. The story is spilt into three parts; the strings, the grass and the vessel, each part discusses a different philosophy on life.Margo's 'strings' that can eventually become cut until there is nothing left, Walt Whitman's 'grass' which becomes a metaphor for so many different things, hope, life, death, connectedness or Q's  'cracked vessel' where we start out whole but as life continues on we become cracked and broken. 

This is my second John Green novel, the first one I read was 'The Fault in Our Stars' which set Mr Green on a very high pedestal. When I finished this book I found it rather hard to decide whether I liked it or not. I liked the themes and ideas behind but I don't think it had be as enthralled as the fault in our stars did but maybe that is just because I had such an emotional connection to the latter.

Margo and Q represent more than just two high school children who've known each other their entire lives but not really known each other. They show how the world views each other, we have these ideas in our heads about people, even people we are extremely close too but are they really true. Do we know the person or just a version of themselves? Q thinks he knows Margo, they live next door to each other, she appears to be happy and care free but is she really, as the story progresses it seems more and more that Margo feels lonely and isolated, misunderstood by those around here. In one particular scene Q thinks he sees Margo laughing when really she is screaming because she is angry. Q has Margo on a pedestal, he likes the idea of her without really knowing who she is. 

“When did we see each other face-to-face? Not until you saw into my cracks and I saw into yours. Before that, we were just looking at ideas of each other, like looking at your window shade but never seeing inside. But once the vessel cracks, the light can get in. The light can get out.” 

The middle of this book was hard going for me, as they searched for the missing Margo following more and more of her clues, I found myself not caring at some points, at first Margo seemed selfish and uncaring. She knew people would be missing her and yet she just left and it wasn't the first time she had done it and yet as the story progressed and I realised how vulnerable she really was, I stared wondering along with Q if she really had killed herself. 

Throughout this book Q learns more about how he judges other people based on his own ideas. He has to learn to accept his best friend Ben for his 'honeybunny'  and prom loving ways. People aren't going to be who we want them to be but you just need to learn to accept it.

“You know your problem, Quentin? You keep expecting people not to be themselves. I mean, I could hate you for being massively unpunctual and for never being interested in anything other than Margo Roth Spiegelman, and for, like, never asking me about how it's going with my girlfriend - but I don't give a shit, man, because you're you. My parents have a shit ton of black Santas, but that's okay. They're them. I'm too obsessed with a reference website to answer my phone sometimes when my friends call, or my girlfriend. That's okay, too. That's me. You like me anyway. And I like you. You're funny, and you're smart, and you may show up late, but you always show up eventually.” 

Paper Towns is a wonderful if yet slow moving and slightly repetitive story about looking at more than just a paper image of someone. This book gets you to think about people being more than just the outside shell that they allow us to see. People are complex, with hidden layers and it is only when the cracks start to show that we can really start to see them at all.  
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